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Ten Members of Phila. Ironworkers' Union Charged With Racketeering, Arson

By Paul Kurtz

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) --  In an indictment that takes a legal crowbar to the leadership of Ironworkers Local 401, the US attorney in Philadelphia says the local union strongarmed construction contractors in the city to hire workers from that local.

Business manager Joe Dougherty,  business agents Ed Sweeney, Sean O'Donnell, Christopher Prophet, and William O'Donnell, and five others charged with conspiracy, extortion, arson, destruction of property, and assault under federal racketeering statutes.

US attorney Zane Memeger (center of photo below) says the defendants resorted to strongarm style tactics of the 1940s and '50s.

"The defendants used goon squads which included union members and associates who committed assaults, arsons, and other violent and destructive acts to make their point emphatically clear.  And that point to any contractor or builder was, you'd better hire local ironworker union members or you will pay a heavy price," Memeger said today.

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(US attorney Zane Memeger, in file photo by KYW's Paul Kurtz)

Among the alleged criminal acts was the December 2012 torching of a Quaker Meetinghouse under construction in Chestnut Hill.  Memeger says that act alone caused a half-million dollars in damage.

All ten defendants were arrested this morning and were expected to be released on bail today.  If convicted, they each face decades-long prison sentences.

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