Former Philadelphia councilman gets 3 1/2 years in massive corruption case

A former Philadelphia council member convicted along with a prominent labor leader in a federal public corruption case has been sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison.

Prosecutors say Bobby Henon, a former union electrician who was elected to the city council in 2011, got a no-show job from the union to ensure he did its bidding. Also convicted was John Dougherty, longtime business manager of Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

At Wednesday’s sentencing, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Schmehl called Henon a good man ‘convicted of doing a bad thing,’ The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The judge said the case ‘exposed the dirty underbelly of how Philadelphia politics works.’

Henon was convicted in November 2021 of 10 counts including conspiracy, bribery, and honest services mail and wire fraud.

He choked back tears Wednesday as he told the judge he never viewed his paycheck as a bribe and tried his best to help everyone in Philadelphia, ‘especially those who were vulnerable and those in need’ — but ‘by putting the interest of my union first, I failed you.’

Henon was fined $50,000 and ordered to hand over $207,000, which is how much he received from Dougherty and Local 98, the newspaper reported.

He was ordered to report to prison April 17. After completing his term, he will spend three years on supervised release. He earlier vowed to appeal the conviction, saying council members are permitted outside jobs and it shouldn’t have surprised anyone that he and Dougherty agreed on a lot of issues.

Prosecutors sought the eight- to 10-year sentence recommended by federal sentencing guidelines. The defense sought to spare their client prison time. Defense attorney Brian McMonagle said the case wasn’t about bribery but ‘blind loyalty,’ especially loyalty to the labor leader.

Dougherty — known widely by his nickname ‘Johnny Doc’ — had been a major force in Pennsylvania politics, steering millions in union campaign contributions to candidates for political office, including his brother, who was elected as a state Supreme Court justice in 2015.

Dougherty’s lawyers contended he exerted no undue influence. He has yet to be sentenced in the case, and faces another federal trial in an embezzlement case.

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