Mayor Kenney's appointee to lead the city's Zoning Board of Adjustment this week became the latest ally of labor leader John "Johnny Doc" Dougherty to fall under federal scrutiny as part of the expanding investigation into the powerful Electricians union.
FBI agents served search warrants Tuesday on the Pennsport home and chiropractic office of James Moylan, who has worked as a political consultant for Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in the past, according to sources close to the investigation.
While the scope of the warrants remains unclear, they suggest the federal investigation could enmesh another influential arm of city government.
There have been more than a dozen federal raids in the last month at sites ranging from union halls to the City Hall offices of Councilman Bobby Henon.
Authorities have also targeted the homes or offices of at least three other members of Dougherty's inner circle, including Marita Crawford, who succeeded Henon as the union's political director; union president Brian Burrows; and Mike Neill, head of Local 98's apprentice program.
In each instance, the warrants sought evidence of possible crimes, including embezzlement of union funds, intimidation of contractors, and extortion by an unnamed public official.
Moylan, through a union spokesman, said Thursday he would have no comment.
Kenney spokeswoman Lauren Hitt said it was too soon to discuss whether the raids would affect Moylan's status on the board. "We didn't even know the raids were happening, so it's difficult to say at this point what effect they might have," she said.
The mayor appointed Moylan, 53, in February as chairman of the five-member body, which plays a vital role in shaping city development, and grants exceptions to building restrictions.
Like all members of the board, Moylan receives a $100 stipend for each meeting he attends, not to exceed $22,000 annually.
Moylan's connection to Dougherty spans at least two decades. The Local 98 leader urged Moylan to move his family to Pennsport and set up his chiropractic office there in the early 2000s, union spokesman Frank Keel said in a statement. Since then, Dougherty has received treatment from Moylan and considers him a "dear, personal friend," according to the statement.
"He is a longtime community activist who volunteers for everything," Keel's statement said. "Jim also helps Local 98 with its charitable fund. . . . The government's interest in Jim Moylan is puzzling to say the least."
Between 2011 and 2012, Moylan received more than $20,000 from the union for work as a political consultant for "get out the vote" efforts, U.S. Labor Department records show.
In 2011, Moylan became president of the Pennsport Civic Association, a post once held by Dougherty. Moylan resigned from the position about a year ago to avoid any potential conflict of interest when he was appointed to the zoning board.
Rene Goodwin, a board member of the community group and Moylan's neighbor, said he had been a strong voice for the group because he "knows the language" of developers.
"Jim, in his role as president, made himself aware of the zoning code so that he could talk to developers intelligently," she said.
More recently, Moylan spoke in Dougherty's defense after a May 2014 melee broke out among Dougherty, Local 98 members, and nonunion bricklayers across the street from Moylan's office on the 300 block of Reed Street.
The bricklayers told police that Dougherty and his members started the altercation. Moylan told investigators that he saw as many as five men near Dougherty, with three "coming at him" and two others standing nearby with pipes.
The matter remains under review as part of a state grand jury investigation led by the Attorney General's Office.
Dougherty has denied wrongdoing related to the fight and the matters at the heart of the federal probe.
In a letter to the union's membership last week, he wrote: "The scope of these investigations suggest a comprehensive attack on multiple aspects of Local 98."