John Dougherty gets insurance coverage to defend against extortion charges


Now it’s up to John Dougherty’s insurance company to bear the cost of defending the former union leader against extortion and conspiracy charges in federal court.

Judge Ramy Djerassi of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas order the National Union Fire Insurance Co. of Pittsburgh, PA, to advance Dougherty’s defense costs and expenses on March 17. The order grants a motion for a special injunction that Dougherty filed when the insurance company denied his request for coverage.

Dougherty is insured under National Union’s “D&O and Nonprofit Organizations” liability coverage section of its policy with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 98, where he was a business manager until his retirement. resigned following his conviction for conspiracy in 2021. Under this policy, the insurer must advance the costs of defense if the insured does not have valid exclusions.

Defendants argued an exclusion applied because Dougherty knew his conduct was wrong, but the judge called that logic ‘circular’ as Dougherty is presumed innocent until a trial proves otherwise .

Denying coverage for his legal fees, Djerassi said, would cause irreparable harm to Dougherty.

Lamb McErlane’s Joseph Podraza represented Dougherty in the case. He said he was unaware of any previous decision in Pennsylvania that found an insurer’s failure to provide expenses rose to the level of irreparable harm.

Given the nature of the injunction – which was intended to compel an act rather than prevent one – the judge noted the higher standard of review involved in assessing potential harm. Djerassi said that given what’s at stake if Dougherty doesn’t receive coverage, the injunction was warranted.

Dougherty argued that without the upfront fee, he would not be able to retain consultants and risk having his lawyers drop his case.

Djerassi said the harm such a result would cause would likely be irreparable.

“The damage presented by a possible criminal conviction with its threat to freedom is substantially different from civil liability,” he wrote. “A conviction has consequences for personal liberty, reputation and family life that cannot be measured or adequately compensated by damages.”

Michael DiFebbo and Sean Mahoney of Kennedys Law represented the National Union. DiFebbo declined to comment.

The charges will go towards Dougherty’s defense against an indictment that federal prosecutors brought against him and his nephew, Gregory Fiocca, in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in March 2021.

Dougherty and Fiocca face 18 counts of extortion and one count of conspiracy to commit extortion related to threats they made against Fiocca’s employer for cutting Fiocca’s salary.

The indictment alleges that Fiocca assaulted its project manager and Dougherty threatened economic retaliation.

If found guilty on all counts, according to at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Dougherty and Fiocca face a maximum possible sentence of 380 years in prison, a $4.75 million fine, a two-year supervised release sentence and a special assessment of 1,900 dollars.

These charges are unrelated to Dougherty’s public corruption case, in which he and former Philadelphia City Councilman Bobby Henon were convicted of conspiracy and honest services fraud.


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