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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – IBEW Local 98 union boss pleaded not guilty to federal corruption charges on Friday. Dougherty was arraigned Friday afternoon on embezzlement, theft, and wire fraud charges. Several other union members were also in court to face charges.
Dougherty, who was released on $50,000 bail, argued outside of the courthouse that he did nothing wrong.
“I’m not gonna stop doing my job, you’re going to see me all over the city,” said Dougherty.
The indictment, released Wednesday, shows a pattern of Dougherty allegedly abusing his power as the leader of the 70,000 member Building Trades Council by using union money to buy personal items and home upgrades.
In one instance, the indictment shows a union credit card was used to pay for a lavish $1,300 birthday dinner for Dougherty in 2015. Authorities say it was falsely reported as a political campaign meeting.
In all, the indictment shows more than $600,000 in union money was misspent over five years.
Other defendants named in the indictment include union president Brian Burrows, and union members Michael Neill, Marita Crawford, Niko Rodriguez, and Brian Fiocca. Anthony Massa, who owns a construction company, was also charged. Authorities say Massa’s company received more than $1.8 million for work done on union members’ personal homes.
Frank Keel, the union’s communications director, spoke outside the federal courthouse, saying that despite the charges, the union backs Dougherty.
“We trust John Dougherty, we believe in John Dougherty, we know who he is. He’s a good man, a decent man,” said Keel.
Philadelphia City Councilman Bobby Henon has already entered a not guilty plea.