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State justice denies benefit from alleged stolen union funds

Written by The Associated Press | Feb 7, 2019 3:25 PM
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FILE: Kevin Dougherty speaks after he was sworn in as a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016, at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. Dougherty and other new members join a court that has been roiled by scandal in recent years. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)


(Harrisburg) -- A Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice who is the younger brother of an indicted Philadelphia labor leader is denying he knowingly benefited from any money allegedly embezzled from the union.

The Philadelphia Inquirer cited five unidentified people familiar with the investigation Thursday as confirming Justice Kevin Dougherty is "family member No. 4" in court documents made public last week.

The 159-page federal indictment said union funds were used to pay to remove snow from the relative's home in 2016, and for construction, repairs and painting there in 2011.

Dougherty's lawyer told the newspaper he never knowingly accepted any improper benefits.

The judge, a Democrat elected in 2015, is not accused of wrongdoing in the indictment. His lawyer, Courtney Saleski, said he paid for all the work at his home and had no reason to know who shoveled his snow on the date in question.

Pennsylvania's Republican Party issued a statement Thursday asking federal and state prosecutors and the court's ethics boards to review the "serious matter."

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John Dougherty, the politically powerful boss of Local 98, now faces federal corruption charges. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Dougherty's brother, John Dougherty, is accused in an influence-peddling and embezzling case of misspending $600,000 in union funds home repairs, sports tickets, trips and luxuries, and using union-funded benefits to illegally elicit official action from a Philadelphia city councilman.

He pleaded not guilty Friday.

John Dougherty has led the 5,000-member International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98 since 1993 and more recently took the helm of the city's Building Trades Council, which has 70,000 members.

Under him, the electricians' union has become a major political campaign donor, spending more than $30 million through political action committees over the past decade to influence elections, campaign finance records show.

That includes about $1.5 million for Kevin Dougherty's 2015 judicial campaign, or about one-in-three dollars the campaign reported spending, according to the records.

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