Pennsylvania high court justice's name surfaces in brother's embezzlement trial

FILE - Johnny "Doc" Dougherty departs the federal courthouse, Feb. 1, 2019, in Philadelphia. The longtime former Philadelphia labor leader is on trial on embezzlement charges, accused of having stolen from the union he led for nearly three decades. Dougherty and others are accused of having embezzled more than $650,000 from Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers between 2010 and 2016. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A witness in federal court reportedly testified this week that he oversaw thousands of dollars in improvements at the Philadelphia home of a Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice, work he said was initially paid for by the labor union that the justice’s brother led at the time.

The testimony about Justice Kevin Dougherty came during the federal embezzlement trial of his brother John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty, on trial for allegedly stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

Contractor Anthony Massa testified that he oversaw $7,500 worth of painting and drywall work at Kevin Dougherty’s northeast Philadelphia home in 2011 that he had been instructed to bill to Local 98, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

While questioning Massa, a defense lawyer contended that the justice’s wife had paid Massa at the time in cash. Massa said she had not.

Kevin Dougherty’s lawyer, Courtney Saleski, said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press that Massa is “an admitted liar.”

“In contrast, anyone who knows Justice Dougherty understands his integrity,” Saleski said. “The only consistency in his testimony is the spewing of falsehoods attempting to tarnish others while covering for his own felonious behavior.”

Massa is the only codefendant to plead guilty in the wide-ranging case accusing top union officials of misusing union dues to pay for personal expenses.

Massa acknowledged that he had not told Kevin Dougherty that Local 98 was paying the bill.

He testified a day later that Dougherty did eventually write him a check for that job — five years later, the Inquirer reported. That was after the FBI revealed it was investigating his brother by searching John Dougherty’s home, a nearby union bar, the electricians’ union headquarters and a city councilman’s office.

Kevin Dougherty has not been accused of wrongdoing. He was a Philadelphia judge in 2011 and ran successfully for state Supreme Court in 2015. The electricians’ union was a major donor to his campaign.

John Dougherty, 63, has denied the embezzlement allegations. Dougherty was indicted in 2019 and convicted in 2021 of conspiracy and fraud in a separate corruption trial.

He resigned from Local 98 a day later.