3 Ironworkers are expected to plead guilty

Posted: August 15, 2014

THREE Ironworkers Union members who were charged in a 10-defendant racketeering-conspiracy indictment in February are expected to plead guilty, including two accused of setting fire to a Quaker meetinghouse construction site.

James Walsh, William Gillin and Francis Sean O'Donnell are expected to enter guilty pleas at hearings in September, according to court documents filed yesterday and their attorneys.

Walsh was the union's "hit man" and Gillin was part of the "hit team," the indictment said. Both men were accused of various arsons, destroying property and other criminal acts.

In December 2012, when a contractor at the site of a new Chestnut Hill Friends meetinghouse refused requests by an Ironworkers leader to hire its members, Walsh and Gillin "set a crane on fire, used a torch to cut some of the steel beams and bolts supporting the new structure, and caused approximately $500,000 in damage," the indictment said.

Walsh's attorney, William J. Brennan, said yesterday that Walsh "is going to plead guilty to the charges related to the Quaker meetinghouse" and "will take responsibility for his criminal activities" there.

Gillin's attorney, Maureen Coggins, confirmed that Gillin will be pleading guilty to some of the counts against him.

O'Donnell was an Ironworkers business agent who covered counties outside Philly. According to a superseding indictment filed last month, he "employed a 'shadow gang' which used sledgehammers to destroy" property on construction sites in an effort to force nonunion contractors to hire union labor.

He has also been accused of arranging the attempted arson of property at a construction site in Malvern.

His attorney, NiaLena Caravasos, confirmed by email that "Sean O'Donnell will be accepting responsibility for the crimes with which he is charged."

Meanwhile, four other defendants are to be arraigned today on charges lodged against them in the superseding indictment.


On Twitter: @julieshawphilly

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