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John Dougherty trial: Closing arguments in federal embezzlement case heard Monday

Deliberations excepted to begin Tuesday in John Dougherty trial
Deliberations excepted to begin Tuesday in John Dougherty trial 02:18

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Closing arguments were heard Monday in the federal embezzlement trial of former Philadelphia labor leader John Dougherty.

Federal prosecutors spent almost three hours Monday on their closing argument. They argued the allegations of embezzlement are important because it happened repeatedly and no one, they say, was watching.

Dougherty, who told CBS News Philadelphia the government has been after him for 30 years, left court confident after sitting through hours of a closing argument where the federal government asked jurors to convict the once powerful and influential head of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98.

"I think he told him the truth," Dougherty said outside the courthouse after the arguments. "I think someone finally had to tell the truth."

Prosecutors allege Dougherty used his union's money to buy groceries and supplies and pay for dinners, trips and outings.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Costello told jurors, "John Dougherty pays for everybody's stuff with union money. He lied, he stole, you know it."

In one instance, Dougherty bought $400 in crab cake dinners for his wife and in-laws from The Palm restaurant and prosecutors said it was paid for by Local 98. 

"The members [of Local 98] didn't know what he was doing," Costello said. 

Dougherty is on the hook for dozens of charges, including counts of embezzlement and conspiracy.

Dougherty was already convicted two years ago at a separate trial on charges related to political corruption, alongside former city councilmember Bobby Henon.

Henon is currently serving his 3 1/2-year prison sentence.

Over the last month in the trial, government witnesses testified Dougherty used Local 98 money to pay for hundreds of thousands of dollars of repairs at his home, for termite treatment, bathroom renovations, as well as work at the homes of family members.

Records and government exhibits showed the money flowed right out of Local 98.

But Dougherty's Defense Attorney Greg Pagano told jurors the union boss was "spreading the goodwill of the union."

The union's former president, Brian Burrows, is also on trial -- accused in the embezzlement scheme -- for allegedly telling contractors doing work in his home to bill Local 98 directly.

But attorneys for Dougherty and Burrows deny there was any criminal intent.

"Bookkeeping was not something he did well," Pagano said about Dougherty. 

Pagano told the jury one of the governent's main witnesses, a contractor, perpetrated a fraud and billed Local 98 behind Dougherty's back.

"We haven't heard from any member of Local 98 who was victimized by either of these good men," Pagano said about the embezzlement. 

Several other union officials had been initially indicted in the 2019 case, but aside from Dougherty and Burrows, the remaining defendants all pleaded guilty in exchange for their cooperation. 

It's expected the jury will get instructions from the judge Tuesday morning and then go to deliberations.

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