Mar 2, 2023 - News

Ex-Philadelphia councilmember Bobby Henon sentenced to prison in bribery case

Bobby Henon

Then-Councilman Bobby Henon in August 2017. Photo by Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty

A federal judge sentenced former Philadelphia councilmember Bobby Henon to three and a half years in prison yesterday following his 2021 bribery conviction.

State of play: Henon must also serve three years of probation and forfeit $207,000 in benefits he reaped through an arrangement with powerful labor leader John Dougherty, per the Inquirer. He is also required to pay a $50,000 fine and perform community service.

  • The sentence is more lenient than the 10 years sought by federal prosecutors.

Catch up quick: Prosecutors said Henon essentially did Dougherty’s bidding in exchange for a $70,000-a-year, no-show job with the local chapter of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

  • A three-term Democrat who represented Northeast Philadelphia, Henon was convicted of 10 counts, including bribery and fraud. He resigned from office last year.
  • The same jury convicted longtime Local 98 business manager Dougherty of eight counts, including conspiracy and honest services wire fraud.

What they’re saying: U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey Schmehl, who handed down Henon’s sentence, said the case “exposed the dirty underbelly” of city politics and called the ex-politician a “good man” who did “a bad thing,” per the Inquirer.

  • The judge received nearly 180 letters hailing Henon’s decade of serving the city from supporters including former governor Ed Rendell and Philly council members Mark Squilla and Michael Driscoll.

Henon’s defense attorney, Brian McMonagle, argued the case wasn’t about bribery but “blind loyalty.” Henon, meanwhile, accepted responsibility for his actions and thanked supporters who packed the courtroom.

  • “You all have touched my heart,” he said. “I know I’ve made mistakes, and today, I must answer for some of them.”

What’s next: Henon must report to prison by April 17. Dougherty hasn’t yet been sentenced and faces a second trial next month on allegations that he and others embezzled $600,000 from the union.

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