PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A federal lawsuit filed in court on Monday alleges John Dougherty engaged in a pattern of racketeering by intimidating and harassing non-union workers. The man who filed the lawsuit confirms he was interviewed by the FBI immediately after the Philadelphia DA declined to prosecute the case, instead sending it to the attorney general.
Joshua Keesee, in an interview at his attorney’s office, took us back to January, recalling when he says he got into a violent tangle with Dougherty. Parts of the exchange were captured on video.
The details are now contained in Keesee’s federal racketeering lawsuit against Dougherty, the IBEW Local 98, and three union workers. The suit claims Dougherty and others intimidated, harassed and assaulted non-union workers.
“He was like who do you think you are,” Keesee alleged Dougherty said. “You want to fight or something?”
Keesee, a non-union electrician, says on January 21, the threats escalated. He claims Dougherty showed up at 3rd and Reed Street in South Philadelphia, where he was working, and started hurling racial remarks.
Keesee alleged Dougherty said: “This is my neighborhood and I don’t want any (expletive) or (expletive) working for me.” He alleges Dougherty then threw two punches, breaking his nose.
“That was really the only two clean shots, then we are in brawl mode,” he said. “Doc had wing tip shoes on. I knew where he was at all times. I have two guys on me left and right, both with sneakers.”
“What’s John Doc doing on the street messing with a non-union electrician,” asked Keesee’s attorney, Clifford Haines.
Haines asserted Philadelphia Police had a strong case of aggravated assault against Dougherty, but the decision to prosecute rested with Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, who instead sent the case to the Pennsylvania Attorney General.
“I don’t know why Seth booted this,” Haines said. “It’s Philly street crime.” In an interview with Ukee Washington last month, Dougherty said he is the complete opposite of what is alleged in this lawsuit: “I’m not a bully, I’m effective,” Dougherty said.
A spokesman for Dougherty and the union says he had not seen the lawsuit, but added all you need to know about the motive is that the press saw it first. Frank Keel said 24 hours after it was first reported, Dougherty had still not been served with the document.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for DA Seth Williams indicated that his office would refer CBS3 back to a statement issued shortly after his decision to hand the case over the attorney general:
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams has a long-standing professional relationship with Mr. Dougherty who is the Business Manager of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 98 that required him to refer the matter to another agency.
Additionally, the DA made the referral because of Mr. Dougherty’s prominent involvement in Philadelphia Democratic Party Politics, as well as the fact that IBEW with Mr. Dougherty as its Business Manager contributed to DA Williams’ campaign.
PA law allows the referral of a matter where there is a potential for an actual or apparent conflict of interest on the part of the district attorney or his office
Meanwhile, the Pa. attorney general’s office has convened a grand jury, investigating the January street fight, according to Keesee’s lawyers.
Keesee tells us he already testified in front of that grand jury.