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Warminster union worker pleads guilty to sabotaging construction sites (Read More…)

By ANTHONY DIMATTIA Staff writer | Posted: Monday, September 22, 2014 8:30 pm


A Bucks County member of the Ironworkers Local 401 has pleaded guilty to sabotaging area construction sites in retaliation for contractors who did not hire union workers.
Francis Sean O’Donnell, 43, of Warminster, pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracy, conspiracy to maliciously damage property by means of fire and related charges Monday in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia.

O’Donnell faces a maximum sentence of 60 years in prison with a five-year mandatory minimum sentence along with three years of supervised release and a $750,000 fine. His sentencing hearing is set for Jan. 13.

On more than 10 instances, O’Donnell acted as a business agent for the Ironworkers Local 401 by extorting or attempting to extort non-union contractors to hire union labor. If a contractor refused, O’Donnell and his “Shadow Gang” — which included other Ironworkers Local 401 members — would use sledgehammers to destroy anchor bolts and cause thousands of dollars in damage to non-union construction sites.

O’Donnell personally arranged and authorized the attempted arson and destruction of property at a construction site in Malvern last year, according to an indictment filed in February. He is also accused of organizing a sabotage effort at a Ridley construction site last year, authorities said.


William Gillin, 43, of Philadelphia, also pleaded guilty Monday to RICO conspiracy, maliciously damaging property by means of fire and related charges. Gillin admitted to participating in the December 2012 arson of the Quaker Meetinghouse on Grays Avenue in Philadelphia and an attempted arson in Malvern as well as other cases in retaliation for contractors’ failure to hire union ironworkers.
O’Donnell and Gillin were among 10 ironworkers indicted in February for using illegal tactics — including arson, sabotage and physical violence — to force contractors to hire union workers.

Christopher Prophet, 43, of Richboro, is accused of supervising and organizing extortion, picket lines and other acts of sabotage on behalf of Ironworkers Local 401. If convicted, Prophet faces a maximum of up to 40 years in prison.

Prophet and O’Donnell are two of the three business agents for Local 401 in Philadelphia — along with business manager Joe Dougherty — accused of organizing the illegal activities that were carried out by six other union members between 2010 and last year, authorities said.

Prophet also organized the baseball bat assaults on two nonunion workers at the construction site, which were carried out by other defendants, according to the indictment. Prophet also provided police with false information about the identities of the baseball bat suspects and their connection with the union to throw off the investigation, authorities said.

The 10 defendants are charged with participating in a conspiracy to commit criminal acts of extortion, arson, destruction of property and assault in an effort to force construction contractors to hire union ironworkers, according to the indictment. Specifically, the indictment charges RICO conspiracy, violent crime in aid of racketeering, three counts of arson, two counts of use of fire to commit a felony, and conspiracy to commit arson.

Other defendants named in the indictment are Edward Sweeney, 55, of Philadelphia; William O’Donnell, 61, of Cherry Hill, New Jersey; and union members James Walsh, 49, Richard Ritchie, 44, Daniel Hennigar, 53, and Greg Sullivan, 49, all of Philadelphia.

A Jan. 5 trial at the U.S District Court in Philadelphia is scheduled for Dougherty, Prophet, Sweeney and Ritchie. A change of plea hearing is scheduled for Sept. 23 for Sullivan and Walsh and Oct. 10 for Hennigar, according to online court records.

If convicted of all charges, Dougherty, Sweeney and Walsh each face a mandatory minimum 35 years in prison; Hennigar a mandatory minimum of 15 years; Sullivan a mandatory minimum of five years in prison; and William O’Donnell up to 20 years behind bars.

Posted by Admin on 09/22 at 10:33 PM
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