Jurors ended a second day of deliberations Thursday without a verdict in the bribery trial of labor leader John Dougherty and City Councilmember Robert Henon.
The panel of seven women and five men spent seven hours working behind closed doors, occasionally asking U.S. District Judge Jeffrey L. Schmehl, in notes, to send back evidence for them to review. Twice during the day, they emerged from their deliberation room with questions, asking the judge to review his legal instructions on bribery and honest services fraud — the central charges in the case.
They are expected to resume their deliberations Friday. Here is a review of the evidence they are weighing from the six-week trial:
CHOP, L&I, and an MRI machine
The background: In August 2015, the city’s Department of Licenses & Inspections issued a stop-work order on the installation of a $5.3 million MRI machine at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
What the government says: Dougherty twice used Henon’s sway over L&I to halt the installation by nonunion contractors.
What the defense says: Halting the work was about safety, and the manufacturer-approved installers didn’t have the proper permitting. Attorneys emphasized that the issue was passed on to L&I by a Local 98 employee — not Henon — tasked with reporting concerning job sites.
The testimony: Jurors heard conflicting reports about who stopped the work.
The L&I inspector who initially visited the site testified that he found no issue, but after his boss conferred with then-L&I Commissioner Carlton Williams, he was ordered to shut it down. Williams testified he felt Dougherty previously exhibited threatening behavior toward him, but the decision was made by his staff. A CHOP senior project manager said having manufacturer-approved installers was to preserve the complex machinery’s warranty.
The Local 98 safety coordinator who reported the job testified that the contractors’ training and qualifications could not be verified.
In calls from an earlier instance at CHOP, Dougherty instructed his union members to contact Henon. Within days, L&I issued a stop-work order. That, Henon told Dougherty, “was me.”
The background: In December 2015, Comcast was renegotiating its franchise agreement with the city. Dougherty called Henon frequently, pushing the councilmember to ensure Comcast sent more work to his union workforce.
What the government says: Dougherty had Henon threaten to hold up a high-stakes vote on the franchise bill unless Comcast agreed to hire one of Dougherty’s favored union contractors.
What the defense says: Dougherty was a stakeholder in the franchise negotiations fighting for union jobs. They say Henon set up meetings between Dougherty and Comcast negotiators as a good councilmember advocating for union stakeholders.
The testimony: Much testimony centered on a December 2015 meeting in Henon’s office between Dougherty and Comcast negotiators, and a flurry of wiretapped phone calls as Dougherty leaned on Henon to pressure the cable giant.
A former Henon staffer told jurors Dougherty opened the meeting with veiled threats and delivered an ultimatum, but the Comcast executives testified that while they believed Council’s approval was contingent upon meeting Dougherty’s demands, no explicit threats were made.
Henon’s chief of staff, Courtney Voss, told the jury she saw the meeting as the councilmember placing parties in a room to hash out a deal, and Henon’s staffers had worked on the Comcast agreement for months before Dougherty got involved.
The background: In 2016, newly elected Mayor Jim Kenney made the tax on sweetened beverages, which had failed to pass a year earlier during the Nutter administration, one of his chief priorities.
What the government says: Dougherty rallied Henon to vouch for the soda tax — in 2015 because Dougherty wanted to strike a blow against the rival Teamsters union, which opposed it. In 2016, prosecutors allege Dougherty pushed Henon to support the bill at the expense of Henon’s district because Dougherty wanted to see a win for his ally Kenney.
What the defense says: Dougherty’s pressure on Henon was nothing more than effective lobbying. They say Henon voted for the measure under Kenney not because Dougherty told him to but because it was good public policy.
The testimony: Jurors reviewed text messages between Henon and Dougherty the morning after the Teamsters and carpenters’ unions ran an unflattering ad in 2015, with Henon vowing to “f— them big time.”
Dougherty said in a call that enacting the soda tax would “cost the Teamsters a hundred jobs in Philly.”
Voss told jurors she met with Henon in early 2015 to talk about the tax, long before the Teamsters ad.
Henon’s former communications director testified he drafted talking points and helped cut a TV ad for the councilmember. It never aired.
Wiretaps from 2016, once Kenney had taken office, showed Dougherty suggesting tactics to Henon for selling the rebranded tax to the public. Deputy Mayor of Labor Richard Lazer told Dougherty they had tapped Henon as their point person.
A former Henon staffer testified the councilmember had agonized over his position but ultimately voted for the tax. It passed, 13-4.
The head of the Teamsters union told jurors that he “couldn’t get a straight answer” on why Henon suddenly changed his mind after initially opposing the bill.
A new plumbing code
The background: In fall 2015, Dougherty ran for head of the Building & Construction Trades Council — an umbrella organization of the city’s trade unions — and worried he wouldn’t get backing from the plumbers’ union.
What the government says: Dougherty sought to use a proposed update to the city’s plumbing code, which the union didn’t want, as leverage to win their support and leaned on Henon to delay a vote on the legislation until he got what he needed.
What the defense says: Dougherty never instructed Henon to do anything with the plumbing code, and the councilmember’s actions were of his own volition.
The testimony: Jurors listened to calls between Dougherty and Henon in which Henon explained his plan.
“Well, so what do you want to do?” Dougherty asked as they discussed the coming election. Henon responded: “F— the plumbers.”
On the day of the election, Henon told a former state representative about the “internal trade politics,” and plans to “disguise [the plumbing legislation] in the middle of everything.”
The FBI lead agent on the case could not say whether Henon introduced the legislation as planned. The plumbing code update wasn’t passed for more than two years.
The Philadelphia Parking Authority and windows
The background: In June 2016, an audit was proposed in City Council to examine whether the Philadelphia Parking Authority could be sending more money to the city’s cash-strapped schools.
What the government says: Henon helped to squash the proposed audit at the request of former PPA head Joseph Ashdale. In exchange, Henon requested and received home windows for Voss, his chief of staff. Ashdale promised she’d only have to pay for installation, not the $3,105 glass bill.
What the defense says: Voss ultimately paid for her own windows and Henon never asked Ashdale to give them to her for free. Henon made up his mind about the PPA vote before speaking with Ashdale.
The testimony: Jurors listened to phone calls between Henon, Ashdale, and then-PPA Director Vincent Fenerty, in which Fenerty informed Henon of the audit resolution, which Henon said he’d vote down.
In later conversations, Ashdale pushed Henon to vote against the resolution, before their talks turned to new glass for Voss’ home. Ashdale told Henon he wouldn’t have to pay for the windows, just the labor.
Jurors also heard from the glass shop owner, who tried for more than two years to obtain the full $3,105 payment from Voss.
Voss testified she was trying to rehabilitate a “dilapidated” home and turned to her boss — with whom she was also in a romantic relationship — for help. She sent two payments of $100 to the company, then paid the remaining sum after seeing Henon had been charged in 2019 with accepting them as a bribe.
Towing and ‘a night of rage’
The background: In September 2015, Dougherty double-parked his car in the Pennsport Mall lot while he ran into his daughter’s apartment. When he returned, a tow-truck driver had loaded the vehicle onto the hauler and couldn’t make change or accept a credit card to release the car.
What the government says: Dougherty had Henon draft a resolution calling for public hearings to investigate the tow-truck company.
What the defense says: Henon’s interest in towing originated months before Dougherty told him to do anything, when his own car was towed. He had discussed the matter with the District Attorney’s Office before what Dougherty’s lawyer characterized as the labor leader’s “night of rage.”
The testimony: Prosecutors played a series of angry phone calls from the night Dougherty’s car was towed, as the labor leader told an associate that “Bobby Henon’s going to put a bill in tomorrow” calling for Council investigations of the towing company’s predatory practices.
A former Henon legislative aide testified that he was to draft a resolution calling for a Council hearing on towing about a week after Dougherty’s incident. That legislation was never officially submitted.
Verizon, the CWA, and a Council hearing
The background: In spring 2016, Verizon was nearing its deadline to complete a seven-year project to expand its Fios network in Philadelphia. At the same time, it was mired in a long-running labor dispute with members of its workforce who belonged to the Communications Workers of America union.
What the government says: Henon sought $13,000 in campaign contributions in exchange for assisting CWA. In exchange, he convened a raucous Council hearing to embarrass Verizon into making concessions in the labor dispute.
What the defense says: Henon sought nothing in return for convening the Verizon hearing. His negotiations with CWA about campaign contributions were incidental. New York City was facing its own problems with a Verizon buildout, and Philadelphia had reason to ask questions.
The testimony: Jurors heard from an official in the city’s Office of Information and Technology, who said he advised Henon that holding a hearing on Verizon’s buildout was premature. He recalled feeling unsettled by the “raucous” hearing packed with booing and jeering CWA members.
The jury also heard wiretapped calls of Jim Gardler, head of Local 13000 of CWA, telling Henon the union could use a public Verizon hearing “as some leverage to put some pressure on them.”
In another call, Gardler told Henon he could secure him a $5,000 donation from the union PAC because “I know what I can ask Bobby to do for us.” Four days later, Henon emailed his staff, reminding them to schedule the hearing.
Ed Mooney, international vice president of the CWA, testified that his union did not bribe the councilmember.