By Steve Tawa
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — While it appears as though at least half of the ten defendants in the upcoming ironworkers’ uinon racketeering case could plead guilty next month, the former longtime head of the local is not one of them.
Although all of the defendants originally entered not guilty pleas, change-of-plea hearings have been scheduled for five of them, including Edward Sweeney, who was one of Ironworkers Union Local 401’s business agents.
But the union’s now-retired business manager, Joseph Dougherty, and three other defendants will face trial, which has been scheduled to begin January 5th.
“Mr. Dougherty has maintained his innocence throughout this process and will continue to do so,” says his attorney, Fortunato Perri Jr. Perri says their trial strategy is unchanged, and he calls recorded telephone conversations involving his client “bluster more than anything else.”
“Some of the words may have been used to try to move forward the process of the ironworkers’ union, but in no way was he in any way involved in any criminality,” Perri says.
Indictments filed earlier this year accuse the union’s former top leadership and members of threatening, committing act of violence, or conspiring violence against contractors to force them to hire Local 401 workers.