Union protesters get community service in Goldtex assault

Posted: January 17, 2013

Two union protesters who were charged with assault over the summer at the Goldtex construction site in central Philadelphia have entered a diversionary court program through which their arrests could eventually be expunged.

Each was ordered to perform 18 hours of community service, and pay a fine and court costs of $200.50, records show. A follow-up hearing to Tuesday's sentencing was scheduled for Feb. 19.

Ryan P. Stewart, 29, of Philadelphia, and Philip J. Garraty, 58, of West Grove, Chester County, were charged with simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, and conspiracy simple assault.

That followed a July 12 incident at the building site at 12th and Wood Streets, where developers Michael and Matthew Pestronk were converting a 10-story loft into 163 apartments. A video submitted by the Pestronks to city investigators showed a Pestronk engineer thrown against a wall as he entered the construction site.

Efforts to reach the men's attorney, Joel Trigiani, who also represents the Laborers District Council of Philadelphia and Laborers Local 332, were unsuccessful.

The Pestronk brothers attempted to employ a mix of union and nonunion workers, the first time in decades that anyone had tried to build a major project here without an all-union workforce.

Michael Pestronk on Wednesday called the men's admittance to the diversionary program "grossly unfair."

"These men are violent criminals," he said, "and they deserved jail time."

A siege developed at the site, with workers beaten, car tires slashed, and delivery trucks blocked for hours. In September, U.S. Rep. Bob Brady (D., Phila.) brokered a deal that ended picketing of the $38 million project.

Pestronk said that picketing had resumed recently and that he gave police video evidence of a violent incident that occurred Dec. 3.

Court records show that Municipal Court Judge Thomas Gehret granted a motion Tuesday to allow both defendants to enter the Accelerated Misdemeanor Program rather than contesting the charges at trial.

The program, established to handle less-serious misdemeanor cases that can clog the Philadelphia court system, can accept defendants charged with such offenses as drug possession, retail theft, and prostitution.

Tasha Jamerson, spokesperson for the District Attorney's Office, said the men were eligible for the program because a charge of simple assault was a misdemeanor.

Defendants who agree to community service and a fine do not go to trial and may have their record expunged.


Contact Jeff Gammage

at 215-854-2415 or jgammage@phillynews.com,

or follow on Twitter @JeffGammage.

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