Federal prosecutors handling the case of Philadelphia union leader John Dougherty and several co-defendants claim to have identified a conflict of interest involving lawyers for two of the accused.
In a memorandum filed March 8 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, prosecutors alleged that because defendants Marita Crawford and Bobby Henon are represented by the same firm—McMonagle Perri McHugh Mischak and Davis—a potential conflict could arise during trial.
Dougherty and seven others were charged in late January on 116 counts for allegedly conspiring to funnel union money into a personal “slush fund” for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 98 boss. Henon, a Philadelphia City councilman, is accused of acting at Dougherty’s behest to advance the union leader’s interests, including allegedly delaying legislation and drafting a resolution proposing to investigate a company that had towed Dougherty’s car. Crawford, IBEW Local 98′s political director, is charged with embezzlement of union funds, among other charges.
All defendants have pleaded not guilty. Both Henon and Crawford are out on bail.
“Despite the fact that Henon and Crawford are not charged together in any count, the government expects, at the very least, to introduce recorded conversations Crawford had with John Dougherty and with Robert Henon that constitute evidence of the honest services charges lodged against Dougherty and Henon,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Gray wrote in the government’s filing. ”Thus, it is apparent that Henon or Crawford could take conflicting positions before trial, or during trial by testifying or making argument contrary to the other’s interest. Additionally, one of these defendants could plead guilty and testify. In addition to the possibility that the cooperating defendant could inculpate the other, counsel for the remaining defendant would also face the possibility of having to cross-examine a client of his law firm, without making use of any privileged information that he might have obtained as a result of the joint representation.”
Gray added that while Henon and Crawford may put up a united front, “it is also possible that at least one of the defendant’s best defense may be to deflect blame to the other.”
Brian McMonagle, who represents Henon, and Fortunato “Fred” Perri Jr., who represents Crawford, have not yet filed responses to the government’s memorandum. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for March 25.
Perri declined to comment on the matter. McMonagle did not respond to a request for comment.
Dougherty, widely know by the nickname “Johnny Doc,” has led IBEW 98 for more than 25 years. From that perch he has been a major political force in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania, providing huge amounts of funding for countless political and judicial offices. His organization also provided significant amounts of funding for the campaigns of several Democratic candidates now sitting on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, including that of his brother, Justice Kevin Dougherty.
The others who were indicted along with Dougherty, Henon and Crawford are Brian Burrows, a business partner with Dougherty and president of the Local 98; Michael Neill, training director for the union’s apprentice training fund; Dougherty’s nephew, Brian Fiocca; Local 98 employee Niko Rodriguez; and construction company owner Anthony Massa.