Philadelphia Ironworkers Local 401 James Walsh will serve three years in federal prison and will repay $128,000 in restitution for his part in a reign of terror throughout Philadelphia against nonunion construction sites and workers. Julie Shaw has the story on phillynews.com
JAMES WALSH, known as the “hit man” of Ironworkers Local 401, who used an acetylene torch to cut through a Quaker meetinghouse under construction and to damage a Grays Avenue warehouse, was sentenced yesterday to six years and three months in prison.
Walsh’s attorney, William J. Brennan, told the judge that his client is “a lot more than the guy who coined the acronym T.H.U.G.” – which, the government has noted, stood for “The Helpful Union Guys.”
Brennan said what Walsh did was wrong, but also noted the crimes committed – known as “night work” – “was the culture of the Ironworkers at the time.”
“He couldn’t get day work unless he did ‘night work,’ ” Brennan said.
In December 2012, Walsh used the torch to cut the metal infrastructure and anchor bolts of the new Quaker meetinghouse under construction in Chestnut Hill. Another union member, William Gillin, set a crane on fire.
Walsh also used the acetylene torch to damage a warehouse on Grays Avenue in Southwest Philly in July 2013. And he was a conspirator in an October 2013 attempted arson in Malvern.
He pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and five arson-related counts in September.
Baylson said the destruction caused by union Ironworkers on construction sites “was an epidemic of violence” that caused “many law-abiding people in Philadelphia to throw up their hands.” Initially, “nobody knew who was doing it,” the judge said.
He said the reason for such violence – because union ironworkers were not getting jobs – “shows a warped mind, a criminal mind” and is “incomprehensible in a civil society.”