Two views of Philadelphia Ironworkers Union boss Joseph Dougherty - general waging a guerrilla war against nonunion contractors, or aging leader undermined by ruthless underlings - are now up to a federal jury to sort out.
The jury spent about 90 minutes deliberating Tuesday after a brief defense case, closing arguments from lawyers, and legal instruction by U.S. District Judge Michael M. Baylson. It will resume its review of the case Wednesday.
The seventh day of the trial began Tuesday with a parade of character witnesses - 10 who testified and 14 more who rose as their names were called, who praised Dougherty's generosity, leadership of Local 401, and reputation for honesty. He elected not to testify in his defense.
The day ended with jurors still deliberating and the 73-year-old Dougherty taken by ambulance to Pennsylvania Hospital after waiting outside on Market Street and complaining of breathing problems.
Dougherty, who has had a stroke and a heart attack, stood outside the federal courthouse surrounded by union workers and relatives and stepped into the ambulance on his own.
He is charged with racketeering conspiracy; two arson-related counts for damage to a site on Grays Avenue in Southwest Philadelphia on July 18, 2013; two arson-related counts in the Oct. 12, 2013, attempted attack on a site in Malvern; and a count of extortion for allegedly coercing a steel company to hire union ironworkers to erect an apartment building at 31st and Spring Garden Streets in West Philadelphia.
Baylson granted a defense motion dismissing arson counts involving the Dec. 20, 2012, attack on the Quaker meeting house under construction at 20 E. Mermaid Lane in Chestnut Hill. Baylson ruled there was not enough evidence linking the incident to Dougherty.
Prosecutors say Dougherty faces a mandatory minimum 15 years in prison if convicted.
In closing arguments, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert J. Livermore said there was no doubt Dougherty improved the lives of his union members and won their loyalty.
But he added that Dougherty's voice on FBI wiretaps also made it clear that the union boss hated nonunion contractors and believed in using arson, intimidation, and extortion to force them to hire union ironworkers.
"He calls them pigs and he treats them worse than any pig should be treated," Livermore said, adding that Dougherty "created a culture within the union where these acts were not only tolerated, but they were rewarded."
Defense attorney Fortunato N. Perri Jr. told the jury in his closing not to be swayed by the tough, expletive-peppered tenor of the wiretap recordings.
Perri called the recorded conversions between Dougherty and four union business agents "the rantings of an aging man."
"Sometimes you have to say things to make yourself sound like a bad guy, like a tough guy," Perri said.
Perri maintained that the acts of violence against about two dozen nonunion sites from 2008 to 2014 were not ordered or planned by Dougherty.
Rather, he argued, the acts were the work of the four business agents trying to preserve their elected positions and financial benefits and jostling for power to possibly succeed Dougherty.
Perri told the jury not to trust the testimony of some of the 11 Local 401 officials and members who pleaded guilty and testified under deals with the government for a lesser sentence.