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Calling his client’s indictment a “travesty of justice,” the lawyer for Philadelphia City Councilman Bobby Henon denied on Thursday that there was anything criminal about his client’s relationship with powerful labor leader John J. Dougherty and vowed to give prosecutors a bruising fight at trial.

Attorney Brian J. McMonagle scoffed at the government’s depiction of his client as a corrupt politician who sold out his constituents to serve the demands of the union boss paying his salary.

“If you look around this city, you’ll see a lot of skyscrapers,” McMonagle said. “They’re not built by robots. They’re built by hard-working union men and women. Unfortunately, yesterday’s indictment is a reflection of the fact that the government wants to make sure that the political power in this city stays inside those buildings, and not with the men and women who built them.”

The fiery remarks defending Henon as a champion of union workers citywide came as the councilman made his first appearance in federal court Thursday and pleaded not guilty to conspiracy, bribery, and fraud charges that threaten to send him to prison for decades.


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