By Joe Holden

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A powerful Philadelphia union leader and his nephew were charged by federal law enforcement authorities on Wednesday morning. IBEW Local 98 union leader John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty and Gregory Fiocca are facing extortion and conspiracy charges.

In this latest round of federal charges, something Dougherty’s spokesperson described as a “persecution,” the labor leader is accused of making threats of economic harm to the owner of an electrical contracting company after, prosecutors say, the unidentified company didn’t pay Dougherty’s nephew for a 40-hour work week.

“Today, after John just returned home after spending 12 days at his seriously ill wife Ceilie’s bedside in the Intensive Care Unit of Jefferson Hospital, they descended again upon John and Ceilie’s home and arrested him again. This isn’t a prosecution, it’s a persecution,” according to a statement from Dougherty’s spokesman Frank Keel.

Court documents show Dougherty appointed Fiocca, his nephew, as Local 98 steward on a job site and it’s alleged he frequently didn’t show up for work.

The pair face 19 counts of extortion and conspiracy.

Acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams quoted the indictment, where documents outline Fiocca’s alleged threats to his manager.

  • “We’re pulling the whole job. You know that, right now. I’m calling my uncle already.”
  • “We’re pulling everyone off the job.”
  • “Tell the company owner to check on me tomorrow, too. As soon as he’s in the parking lot and no cameras in there, I’ll break his face, too.”

It’s also claimed Fiocca grabbed that manager by the throat and threw him on a desk.

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Dougherty, already under indictment for charges of embezzlement and wire fraud, was arrested Wednesday morning by the FBI. His trials, alongside indicted City Councilman Bobby Henon and other Local 98 figures, are scheduled for this year.

“This is someone who is already facing serious charges. You would think he would prefer to stay out of trouble, instead the corruption only continues,” said Michael Driscoll, Special Agent in Charge at the Philadelphia FBI office.

Dougherty was arraigned and left the courthouse out of view of news cameras.

Prosecutors indicated they requested he be held in pre-trial detention.

“Our office, in court at Mr. Dougherty’s initial appearance, did request home detention for him and the judge released Mr. Dougherty on the same conditions as he was released previously,” Williams said.

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Calls to Dougherty’s attorney were not returned.