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(Philadelphia) Mayor Street's office bugged
Philadelphia Inquirer ^ | Oct. 8, 2003 | Thomas J. Gibbons Jr & others

Posted on 10/08/2003 7:25:27 AM PDT by South Hawthorne

Posted on Wed, Oct. 08, 2003 story:PUB_DESC
Mayor Street's office bugged

Inquirer Staff Writers

A sophisticated electronic listening device with multiple microphones was found yesterday morning hidden in the ceiling of Mayor Street's City Hall office.

Within hours, the FBI said that the eavesdropping device was not related to the mayor's race, but declined to explain how it knew that so quickly.

Pressed whether federal investigators themselves might have planted the bug, FBI spokeswoman Linda Vizi said the agency "would not confirm or deny" whether that was the case.

Street emerged from his office yesterday to say: "I have done nothing wrong."

"The question that ultimately will get raised in the minds of some people is: Who's investigating the mayor's office?" Street said.

"Well, in response to that question, I want to assure the people of this city that this mayor is not being investigated."

The mayor said he had no idea who had bugged his office.

He went on to acknowledge that there could be "some kind of official investigation that could be taking place that I don't know anything about - and would have no reason to know."

Vizi would not talk in detail about the matter but did say: "We have come to the conclusion that this is not associated with the election in any way."

While refusing to say how the FBI knew this, Vizi said the FBI felt it important to tell the public that the bugging was not politically motivated because, with the election four weeks away, the campaign was "at a very critical time."

She added: "We are not giving out specific details as to where it was found, exactly what it looks like, whether it was operating or not, or anything like that, other than the fact that we will handle the matter."

The bug and the FBI's response seemed certain to add to the tension and confusion of an already overheated and close mayoral race, now in its final four weeks.

Republican mayoral candidate Sam Katz said he could make no substantive comment until he knew more.

"It's breathtakingly shocking in many ways," Katz told reporters during a campaign stop. "I'm not willing to make any comments about something that's just based on the finding of a listening device. I don't think that in and of itself says anything."

Officers from the Internal Affairs Division of the Philadelphia Police Department found the bug at 7:15 a.m. yesterday during a "sweep" of the mayor's office - City Hall Room 215 - for electronic devices. Such sweeps have been conducted periodically since the Goode administration, according to Police Commissioner Sylvester M. Johnson.

What was found was described by one top investigator as an "extremely sophisticated" battery-powered device designed to broadcast to a remote location, such as another building or a van parked outside.

"Whoever did it was professional," an official said.

The bug was not a recording device. The base unit for the device was in the ceiling above the mayor's desk. Several remote microphones were placed in the ceiling throughout the spacious office.

The unit had enough battery power to operate for several months.

A law enforcement official said investigators believe the device was planted in the last four months. The mayor's office was last swept by Philadelphia police about June and nothing was found, the official said.

Moreover, the official said that there was evidence that a portion of the dropped ceiling had been moved since the sweep earlier this year.

Johnson said that as soon as he was told about the listening device, he called the FBI.

The agency sent agents over to examine the device. Johnson referred all other questions to the FBI.

The discovery yesterday came at a time of heightened worry in the Street camp about surveillance. About two weeks ago, the Street campaign hired a private security firm to conduct a sweep of the campaign office on Cherry Street, near 16th Street. No bugs were found.

Street spent much of yesterday afternoon in his City Hall office - a space guarded around the clock by police - huddled with Johnson.

Street later said the discovery was "certainly a concern for me."

He said he had long worried about "the kind of access that people have to City Hall" because he had seen "strange people" wandering on the second floor, where his office is.

Street said that the Police Department would conduct its own investigation, along with the FBI.

"This is a huge matter of concern for me," Street said. "You'd like to think that you have a certain amount of privacy in your own office, and when you don't, you feel violated."

In order to bug a top public official's office, legal experts said, federal prosecutors would have to receive approval from the Justice Department and a federal judge.

Prosecutors would have to persuade the judge that there was "probable cause" to believe there would be discussions about an ongoing crime, the experts said, and that they could not obtain that evidence through less-intrusive means. The order allowing such interceptions would be regularly reviewed by the authorizing judge.

The discovery of the bug comes as federal authorities have been engaged in criminal investigations related to city government, including a ticket-fixing scandal and the 2001 award of a $13.6 million airport contract to a firm with ties to the mayor's brother, T. Milton Street.

In June, the city turned over 25,000 pages of documents related to that airport contract, the City Solicitor's Office said.

Federal agents have interviewed former city officials, lawyers and business people involved with the contract, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

In the ticket scandal, the U.S. Attorney's Office is investigating whether people with political connections used that pull to have tickets fixed.


Contact staff writer Thomas J. Gibbons Jr. at 215-854-2642 or tgibbons@phillynews.com. Inquirer staff writers Cynthia Burton, Thomas Fitzgerald, Marcia Gelbart, Emilie Lounsberry, Ira Porter, Joseph A. Slobodzian and Joseph Tanfani contributed to this article.


TOPICS: Breaking News; Crime/Corruption; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; US: Pennsylvania
KEYWORDS: bug; bugged; feds; investigation; johnstreet; katz; philadelphia
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In order to bug a top public official's office, legal experts said, federal prosecutors would have to receive approval from the Justice Department and a federal judge.

Prosecutors would have to persuade the judge that there was "probable cause" to believe there would be discussions about an ongoing crime, the experts said, and that they could not obtain that evidence through less-intrusive means. The order allowing such interceptions would be regularly reviewed by the authorizing judge.

The good news is that even if he steals the upcoming election, he'll likely be in the slam before his next term is up.

Owl_Eagle

" WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
DIVERSITY IS STRENGTH"


1 posted on 10/08/2003 7:25:28 AM PDT by South Hawthorne
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To: All

"Facts are stubborn things, and whatever may be our
wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions,
they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence."
- John Adams -


Make your statement.




2 posted on 10/08/2003 7:26:08 AM PDT by Support Free Republic (Your support keeps Free Republic going strong!)
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To: Owl_Eagle
sophisticated electronic listening device with multiple microphones

Pressed whether federal investigators themselves might have planted the bug, FBI spokeswoman Linda Vizi said the agency "would not confirm or deny" whether that was the case.

Things that make you go hum.........

3 posted on 10/08/2003 7:27:33 AM PDT by Lockbox
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To: Owl_Eagle
???


4 posted on 10/08/2003 7:35:19 AM PDT by Chad Fairbanks (My idea of housework is to sweep the room with a glance.)
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To: Lockbox
Gee, another big GOP pick-up this fall in the making.
5 posted on 10/08/2003 7:35:46 AM PDT by republicanwizard
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To: Owl_Eagle

Mayor John Street of Philadelphia

Within hours, the FBI said that the eavesdropping device was not related to the mayor's race,

So that means they're not planning on hanging this on Rush?

6 posted on 10/08/2003 7:45:42 AM PDT by putupon (This Space for Sale or Rent, call BR-549)
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To: putupon
please don't call him that M-word.
7 posted on 10/08/2003 7:46:08 AM PDT by Libertarian4Bush
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To: putupon
please don't call him that M-word.
8 posted on 10/08/2003 7:47:09 AM PDT by Libertarian4Bush
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To: Owl_Eagle
The discovery yesterday came at a time of heightened worry in the Street camp about surveillance. About two weeks ago, the Street campaign hired a private security firm to conduct a sweep of the campaign office on Cherry Street, near 16th Street. No bugs were found.

OK .. why is Street hiring a private security firm to conduct sweeps??

And why is the FBI investigating Street?

Something is up

9 posted on 10/08/2003 7:52:58 AM PDT by Mo1 (http://www.favewavs.com/wavs/cartoons/spdemocrats.wav)
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To: Temple Owl
note the author
10 posted on 10/08/2003 7:53:50 AM PDT by Tribune7
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To: Owl_Eagle; brityank; Physicist; WhyisaTexasgirlinPA; GOPJ; abner; baseballmom; Willie Green; Mo1; ..
ping
11 posted on 10/08/2003 7:54:19 AM PDT by Tribune7
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To: putupon
Is he serious about that hair?
12 posted on 10/08/2003 7:55:36 AM PDT by JohnnyZ (RED SOX WIN! We had 'em all the way)
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To: JohnnyZ
Is he serious about that hair?

Serious and series too.

I heard he's letting grow out, when it gets long enough, he's planning on getting conked.

Word on the street is he alway's wanted to be like Al Sharpton when he grows up.


13 posted on 10/08/2003 8:06:28 AM PDT by putupon (This Space for Sale or Rent, call BR-549)
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To: Owl_Eagle
It's hard to believe there would be any corruption in the Philly mayor's office. < /sarcasm >
14 posted on 10/08/2003 8:13:39 AM PDT by Ditto ( No trees were killed in sending this message, but billions of electrons were inconvenienced.)
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To: Owl_Eagle
Hmmmmmmmm? A demonrat in office and an on going crime? It's only natural.
15 posted on 10/08/2003 8:27:44 AM PDT by fella
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To: Hillary's Lovely Legs
ping!
16 posted on 10/08/2003 8:28:56 AM PDT by habs4ever
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To: Owl_Eagle
Officers from the Internal Affairs Division of the Philadelphia Police Department found the bug at 7:15 a.m. yesterday during a "sweep" of the mayor's office - City Hall Room 215 - for electronic devices. Such sweeps have been conducted periodically since the Goode administration, according to Police Commissioner Sylvester M. Johnson.

Why did they inform the mayor? Couldn't they have checked with the FBI and determined that the bug had been placed for legitimate law enforcement purposes?

17 posted on 10/08/2003 8:30:49 AM PDT by aristeides
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To: Owl_Eagle
FBI
18 posted on 10/08/2003 8:30:53 AM PDT by mabelkitty
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To: Mo1
Yes, I vaguely remember it. I think it was unions/schools/elections/money and involved fraud/corruption/violation of law/RICO.

Pick one from each group.
19 posted on 10/08/2003 8:32:31 AM PDT by mabelkitty
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To: Owl_Eagle
He said he had long worried about "the kind of access that people have to City Hall"

Typical Democrat.

20 posted on 10/08/2003 8:34:20 AM PDT by Sir Gawain
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