Not-guilty plea to 100 charges

Posted: June 28, 2007

A Philadelphia electrical contractor pleaded not guilty yesterday to 100 federal charges, including a bank bribe, stealing $869,000 from a union benefits plan and making illegal payments to labor leader John J. Dougherty.

The contractor, Donald "Gus" Dougherty, entered the plea before a federal magistrate and was released on $100,000 recognizance bond. He was ordered to remain in eastern Pennsylvania or New Jersey until trial.

His lawyer, Nicholas Nastasi, said that although the nature of the allegations were not new, the timing of Tuesday's indictment was unexpected.

"Tuesday was a little like Dec. 7, 1941," Nastasi said. "However, my client stands ready to face these charges and to get on with his life and his responsibilities. That said, we have the highest respect for the U.S. Attorney's Office and its awesome powers and its wisdom."

U.S. Attorney Patrick L. Meehan said at a news conference Tuesday that the investigation was continuing but would not elaborate.

The charges related to the labor leader allege that the contractor sold John Dougherty a Shore home for $24,000 below market value and that he performed $115,000 worth of renovations on his Philadelphia home at no cost.

As part of their investigation, federal agents searched John Dougherty's home late last year.

John Dougherty, who is a childhood friend of Gus Dougherty but no relation, was not charged in the indictment. Dougherty, business manager of Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, has said he has done nothing wrong.

If convicted, Gus Dougherty probably faces 41 to 51 months in prison, according to the advisory federal sentencing guidelines.

Asked if Gus Dougherty might strike a plea agreement with the government that included testifying against others under investigation, his lawyer said, "This case is going to trial."

Contact staff writer John Shiffman at 215-854-2658 or jshiffman@phillynews.com.

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