By P.J. D’Annunzio

Law360 (April 25, 2024, 10:29 PM EDT) — A Pennsylvania federal jury on Thursday night was unable to reach a verdict in the government’s case alleging former Philadelphia labor leader John Dougherty threatened a Live! Casino construction contractor with “financial ruin” if he didn’t pay his electrician nephew for work he didn’t perform, marking a mistrial for the previously twice-convicted union figurehead and his relative.

The jury in U.S. District Judge Jeffrey L. Schmehl’s Reading courtroom deliberated for about 11 hours after a two-week trial in which prosecutors accused the former International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98 business manager and his nephew Gregory Fiocca of conspiring to extort Raymond Palmieri, the owner of the company working on the project.

Talking to reporters after the jurors were excused, Dougherty’s attorney, Gregory J. Pagano, commended the jury’s hard work and judge’s “fair-handed” approach during what he called a difficult case.

“I believe that John acted lawfully and acted with legitimate labor interests and had a right to do what he did,” Pagano said, adding that his client “did not have any criminal intentions whatsoever.”

Attorney Rocco C. Cipparone Jr., representing Fiocca, told reporters that he’s hopeful the government won’t retry what he described as a complex case with shortcomings.

“It’s been a rough road for him over the last three years, he’s got a couple of little kids. He just wants to get back to a somewhat normal life with his family and not having the significant stress of this,” Cipparone said.

A prosecutor declined to comment.

During the trial, prosecutors said Dougherty refused to listen to jobsite managers and foremen who complained about Fiocca, choosing instead to blame them. But Pagano told the jury that his client may have been hot-headed on the phone with Palmieri regarding his nephew, but he was far from guilty of extortion.

Prosecutors alleged that Fiocca was frequently absent from the jobsite, and when he did show up, he made frequent disappearances. When a manager refused to pay Fiocca for the absences, he assaulted him in a trailer, authorities said.

Afterward, Dougherty called Palmieri and threatened to pull all the union electricians off the job if his nephew didn’t get paid for a 40-hour work week, prosecutors claimed.

The case was Dougherty’s third time on trial, having lost in two previous prosecutions against him.

Dougherty and Fiocca were hit with the 19-count extortion indictment in March 2021. At that time, Dougherty already faced charges from a 2019 indictment accusing him, former Local 98 President Brian Burrows, former Philadelphia City Councilman Bobby Henon and other Local 98 employees with a host of corruption and related counts.

In the first trial, Dougherty and Henon were convicted in November 2021 on bribery charges related to Dougherty allegedly using a union salary to buy Henon’s influence on the City Council.

Two years later, Dougherty was convicted in a second trial on charges that he and others used hundreds of thousands of dollars from Local 98’s coffers for their own gain.

Dougherty is represented by Gregory J. Pagano and Henry M. George of the Law Offices of Gregory J. Pagano PC.

Fiocca is represented by Rocco C. Cipparone Jr. of Rocco C. Cipparone Jr. Law Offices.

The government is represented by Jacqueline C. Romero, Bea Witzleben, Frank Costello, Anthony Carissimi and Jason D. Grenell of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

The case is U.S. v. Dougherty et al., case number 2:21-cr-00065, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

–Editing by Michael Watanabe.

Update: This article has been updated with comments from Pagano and Cipparone, and to reflect that the government declined to comment.