Prophet Pleads Guilty in Philly Racketeering

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Three more members of Ironworkers Local 401 have pleaded guilty to federal charges of racketeering, but the judge is refusing to accept the charges without further information.  U. S. District Judge Michael Baylson, indicated he believed in “proportionality.”  That is,
the more culpability the client has, the more severe the sentence.  Julie Shaw has the story on philly.com.

U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson said at separate hearings for the three – Christopher Prophet, 43, of Richboro, Bucks County; William O’Donnell, 62, of Cherry Hill; and Richard Ritchie, 45, of Philadelphia – that he needs more information about their backgrounds and their roles in the case.

Prophet, O’Donnell and Ritchie were among 10 members of Ironworkers Local 401 who were indicted in February, accused of engaging in a pattern of racketeering crimes, including arson and extortion, to force or attempt to force nonunion contractors to hire their members. Two more members were later charged.

Prophet pleaded guilty yesterday to the two charges he faced – racketeering conspiracy and extortion. He was one of the union’s four business agents and had overseen Bucks and Montgomery counties.

In his plea memo, the feds noted that he recruited many union members for his “Shadow Gang” out of the apprentice school and the union’s softball team, letting them know if they wanted jobs, they had to do “nightwork” – crimes on behalf of the union.

Under the terms of Prophet’s plea agreement with the government, he would receive a sentence of five years in prison if the judge accepts his plea.

O’Donnell was also a business agent. He oversaw parts of Philadelphia. But, out of the four business agents, he “was by far the least aggressive when it came to forcing non-union contractors to hire union ironworkers,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Livermore wrote in O’Donnell’s plea memorandum.

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