Second close associate of Philadelphia mayor charged |

Second close associate of Philadelphia mayor charged

PHILADELPHIA – An attorney who headed a committee trying to develop a key piece of city-owned property was charged with fraud and conspiracy Tuesday, the second close adviser of Mayor John F. Street to be swept up in a federal corruption investigation.Prosecutors said Leonard Ross, 58, attempted to sell access to his office to raise campaign funds for Street and to get a $150,000 line of credit for himself.The charges echo similar counts filed against others caught up in the probe, which became public when police discovered an FBI bug in Street’s office in 2003.A series of related federal probes have resulted in convictions of more than a dozen people, including the former city treasurer who tried to trade government contracts with businessmen for gifts, favors and cash.Prosecutors said they unearthed no evidence that the mayor had committed any crime and he was not charged.Street said his more than 20-year friendship with Ross was not jeopardized by the charges, but that if Ross is found guilty “he should be punished accordingly.”The charges against Ross relate in part to his dealings with attorney Ronald A. White, a Democratic campaign fundraiser who also had close ties to Street.Ross, who the mayor appointed to chair the oversight committee for a city real estate deal, is accused of giving inside information about the selection process to White, a consultant to a firm trying to win a contract for the project.In exchange, Ross obtained a line of credit from Commerce Bank, where White served on the board of directors, U.S. Attorney Patrick L. Meehan said.White was indicted on corruption charges last year but died before his case went to trial.Ross also got potential developers to contribute to Street’s 2003 re-election campaign, prosecutors said. By keeping Street in office, Ross would earn $10,000 a month from a law firm seeking his help in obtaining legal work from the city, Meehan said.A message left for Ross’ attorney, James Schwartzman, was not immediately returned.Vail, Colorado

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