Lawyers for board member Bobby Henon push back allegations he accepted free windows for Chief of Staff Courtney Voss in exchange for the Philadelphia Parking Authority audit canceled
As prosecutors neared the conclusion of their federal corruption case against union leader John Dougherty and city council member Bobby Henon on Wednesday, defense attorneys rebuffed allegations that Henon had accepted a bribe. free windows wine in exchange for his vote to kill a 2016 Philadelphia Parking Authority audit.
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey L. Schmehl told jurors at the end of today’s testimony that the government could rule on Thursday. The proceedings would then move on to the presentation of the defense and the testimony of witnesses, which should take at least a few more days.
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Dougherty, the leader of the politically powerful Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, has sworn to testify, joking to reporters earlier in the lawsuit that he has a lot to say.
“I’ll be up there for a week,” he said. âThis room will be packed.
It remains to be seen whether he will follow. Asked again about his intentions on Monday, he smiled and pointed guns at reporters, saying only, âListen. Pay attention. You will be here.
Meanwhile, with testimony on Wednesday, prosecutors sought to assert their claims over $ 3,000 worth of windows that Henon arranged to have installed in 2016 at the home of his chief of staff, Courtney Voss, with whom he had worked. had a romantic relationship.
They alleged that Henon obtained these windows as payment from Joseph Ashdale, who was then chairman of the Philadelphia Parking Authority as well as leader of the union representing glaziers and glassmakers.
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Ashdale asked Henon for help after board members David Oh and Helen Gym introduced a resolution calling for a performance audit to see if the PPA should send more money to schools in the city. And Henon, after discussing the issue with Ashdale, first voted with other council members to table the bill, and then, three months later, he finally voted against it.
Cross-examination of the senior FBI agent on the case on Wednesday, Henon’s attorney Brian McMonagle asked why Ashdale hadn’t been charged with a felony if the windows were a bribe like the government alleged it.
He also sought to show that despite Ashdale’s promise to Henon that Voss would only have to pay the labor costs for installing the windows – which the attorney pointed out that Henon did not not asked – she eventually paid the full $ 3,105 for the drink. , too much.
Matthew Trzaska, organizing director of the International Union of Painters and Allied Crafts District Council 21, told jurors Ashdale had sent him to Voss in Pennypack Creek to measure him and provide an estimate.
And after helping his contractor find the glass he needed, he figured his involvement in the deal was over. But a month later, the supplier started sending invoices for the glass to the union.
“I said [Ashdale], ‘We cannot pay them,’ âhe said. âCourtney Voss has to pay for this. She’s the one who owns the house.
Trzaska said he even went so far as to return to Voss’ house and leave a copy of the bill on his doorstep. But for the months that followed, it went unpaid.
Patrick McIntyre, owner of the Collingdale company that supplied the glass, said he even went so far as to call Henon directly to try to get paid.
âI was a small business and couldn’t pay my bills,â he said.
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McIntyre admitted on cross-examination that Voss ultimately paid the balance owed in full – but only after several more calls to Henon’s office and more than two years after the glass was first installed.
“[You] make sure you charged because that wasn’t a favor, was it? McMonagle asked.
But by the time Voss started sending money to McIntyre, the FBI investigation into Henon had already erupted in public view with a series of raids on his council offices and sites linked to the local. 98.
His final payment came around the same time Henon was accused in January 2019 of accepting those windows as a bribe.
McMonagle maintained that the windows had nothing to do with Henon’s vote on the PPA audit. While the board member and Ashdale often discussed the two issues on the same phone calls, the one had nothing to do with the other, the defense attorney said.
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He made a similar argument involving the main alleged bribe at the heart of the government’s business: the over $ 70,000 a year salary that Dougherty’s union continued to pay Henon even after he was elected to the government. advice.
Prosecutors alleged that Henon had done nothing for the money except to use the powers of his council office to advance Dougherty’s personal and professional interests in government.
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Testifying Wednesday about the 2016 FBI raids on the Spring Garden Street headquarters at Local 98, FBI Special Agent Jason Blake said he found no evidence that Henon had an office or produced memos, letters, notes or any other sign of legitimate work. done for his union pay.
Defense attorneys, who have argued that Henon has served a number of functions for the union, will have an opportunity to question Blake on this issue when the trial resumes on Thursday.
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