PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The participants in an alleged massive Philadelphia corruption case are asking a federal judge to try the cases separately from union leader John Dougherty. Some lawyers argued their clients aren’t even charged with some of the offenses included in the 100-plus count indictment.
It was a who’s who of defense attorneys at the federal courthouse on Wednesday. Dougherty, along with other Philadelphia leaders, are in federal court over a corruption case involving IBEW Local 98 as the case is at a fork in the road.
Alleging guilt by association, lawyers for some of the defendants charged in a sweeping corruption investigation argued for separate trials.
Giving CBS3’s photographer a pat with his court documents, Dougherty, a prominent labor leader, was in court on Wednesday, as was Philadelphia Councilman Bobby Henon.
Both men face the most significant amount of criminal charges in a federal indictment handed up in February that nailed six others.
They’re implicated in public corruption, misuse of funds and false statements.
“We’ve said from the beginning these allegations are absurd,” attorney Brian McMonagle, who represents Henon, said. “This is an indictment that should have never been brought. It certainly shouldn’t have been joined and we’re hopeful all these counts will be severed and we’ll have separate trials. We look forward to successfully defending in a separate trial.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Costello argued all of the defendants were involved to some degree with the alleged illegal use of union money at IBEW Local 98.
“We have two conspiracies here — a conspiracy to embezzle and a conspiracy to commit honest services,” attorney Tom Bergstrom, who represents Local 98 president Brian Burrows, said. “What are we going to do? Sit there for three weeks while they prove that and Brian Burrows has nothing whatsoever to do with it?”
Attorney William Brennan says his client, a carpenter named Anthony Massa, simply submitted invoices for payment — and claims he had nothing to do with public corruption.
“Tony Massa is about as apolitical a guy you can be,” Brennan said. “He has as much involvement with Bobby Henon as the man on the moon. My client is a contractor. He’s a carpenter, he’s not an electrician. He did work for IBEW, for individuals, for lots of people. He’s self-employed. He’s retired now.
“He worked eight hours and he billed for eight hours. I don’t see what he did wrong. The government has elected to charge him for participating in a conspiracy based on where he sent invoices.”
The government argued all of the defendants were involved to some degree with the alleged illegal use of union money at IBEW Local 98.
The judge has yet to rule.