The federal wiretapping probe into City Hall refused to be felled by the death of its central focus, nor did it end with the first round of convictions some months ago. Instead, new wood continues to fall. Most recently, local lawyer and close Street associate Leonard Ross agreed to plead guilty
on corruption and extortion charges (staving off charges expected yesterday
U.S. Attorney Patrick L. Meehan said yesterday that Ross used that position and "his relationship with the mayor to sell his office and to sell out the people of Philadelphia... . Len Ross' financial well-being depended on John Street's winning reelection in 2003. In fact, Ross had a deal with a law firm, $10,000 a month, so long as Street remained mayor."
The plea spares the city the circus of another trial, but it also casts more shadows over the current mayor and those around him.
Meehan said Ross' conduct of the Penn's Landing development competition represented a cynical picture of what it takes to compete for a development opportunity in Philadelphia.
"You don't get an opportunity to present unless you go through the right people," Meehan said. "And then once you go through the right people, part of the payoff is going to be the expectation that you've got to pay some campaign donations... you start to question, is the game rigged?"
The Daily News has two related stories, one portraying Ross as a man who wanted to be an inside player
, and the other capturing Street's expressions of sorrow
over his good friend's fate. The latter lists more of the specific illicit moves made by Ross in various arenas of influence.