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HomeWorldFormer Philadelphia labor union president sentenced to 4 years in embezzlement case

Former Philadelphia labor union president sentenced to 4 years in embezzlement case

READING, Dad. — The former president of a Philadelphia union has been sentenced to four years in prison for his role in what federal prosecutors called the embezzlement of more than $600,000 in union funds.

Brian Burrows, 64, of Mount Laurel, New Jersey, former president of Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, was also ordered Wednesday by a federal court in Reading to forfeit nearly $136,000 and pay damages to be determined later pay.

Burrows and John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty, the union’s longtime business manager, were convicted in December of conspiracy, embezzlement and other charges. Prosecutors said they used the money for things like home renovations, concerts, groceries and even a cookie tray for the baptism of a relative’s baby.

Dougherty is expected to be sentenced on July 11.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Burrows delivered a 45-minute speech in court, portraying himself as a loyal steward of union funds who put thousands of dollars in pension, health care and profit-sharing benefits back into members’ pockets.

“That wasn’t a coincidence,” Burrows said repeatedly, adding that his day job “was not to see what was on John Dougherty’s expense reports.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Bea Witzleben noted that she had not heard an apology and said Burrows appeared to be saying that if he saved union electricians money here and there, “it was OK to steal from them.”

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey L. Schmehl criticized Burrows not only for a “serious violation” of the trust of union members, but also for failing to stop the misconduct of others. He said he had “clearly ignored the warning signs of accountants and other union officials.”

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Dougherty, 63, was previously convicted of bribery for keeping a city councilman on the union’s payroll to keep tight control on construction jobs. The former councilor, Bobby Henon, is serving a 3.5-year prison sentence.

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