He’ll Be Back, Philly Union Boss Promises

Sherman Harris, a frmr. official of Philadelphia’s biggest govt. union, admitted no wrongdoing before he was sentenced to 2 yrs. in prison for taking kickbacks from city contractors.  And the “once-and-future” exec. asst. of Dist. Council 33 of the Amer. Fedtn. of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME) said he expected to be rehired to his $72,000-a-yr. job once he completes his jail term.  Dist. Council 33 president Herman “Pete” Matthews defended Harris’s character at an earlier hearing.


Harris was 1 of 18 city supervisors indicted in the kickback scheme, which fed. prosecutors said cost taxpayers $2.1 million from 1993-99.  During that period, father-and-son owners of AAA Electric Motor, John and Nicholas Fafalios, paid the supervisors to approve invoices that were either grossly inflated or included work never done.  Harris personally took $45,803 from the Fafalios.  He was convicted in Oct. of 2002.


In asking for leniency, Harris claimed: “I’m a good person; I’m a community person.”  U.S. Dist. Judge William H. Yohn Jr. (E.D. PA, G.H.W. Bush) responded to Harris and his co-defendants: “Basically you are good people who did a bad thing.  You got caught up in a scheme that let you take what you thought was a little easy money that would never be detected.”  Judge Yohn also ordered Harris to make monthly payments of $750 toward repaying his kickbacks once he gets out of prison. [Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/3/04]