Former head of the Philadelphia Ironworkers union Joseph Dougherty was sentenced Monday to 19 years in prison for orchestrating a violent campaign against nonunion contractors.
“His leadership led to a lot of damage,” U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson said in court, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. “It led to a lot of crimes and it continued the bad reputation Philadelphia has for tolerating union violence.”
The 73-year-old union boss was accused of leading his union, Local 401, on a campaign of sabotage, arson, raids, threats and intimidation against nonunion contractors. In total, 12 members of the union were convicted in connection to the crimes. According to The New York Times, Dougherty was the only one to fight the charges.
Dougherty and his accomplices were even accused of burning a Quaker Meetinghouse in 2012 and running raids to sabotage construction sites. The acts of violence and threats were all done to coerce contractors into hiring union workers.
“I don’t believe any of the charges against him,” Jim Moran, a long-time union leader, told the local affiliate of CBS News. “I don’t think he’s guilty. I think the jury got it wrong.”
Though Baylson took Dougherty’s advanced age into consideration, the judge wanted the punishment to match the seriousness of the crimes. Along with prison time, Dougherty was also ordered to pay more than a half-million dollars in damages. Prosecutors, however, wanted a much harsher sentence including 23 years in prison.
“There is no question Joseph Dougherty did many good things for the union and its members during his long tenure,” prosecutors wrote in their memorandum. “His zeal for the union members became misguided and he lost his moral compass. Somewhere along the way, he began to believe that any criminal act was justified if it furthered the goals of the union.”
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