The man in the middle of the bribery case against Democratic State Sen. Larry Farnese of Center City is identified only as "Person A" in the federal indictment released Tuesday.
But two sources, one familiar with the investigation and the other with the people involved, say he is Ted Mucellin, who briefly worked in Mayor Michael Nutter's administration and who has been Farnese's political consultant for eight years.
Mucellin's name came to light the day Farnese told constituents he had done nothing wrong and a Republican leader said the GOP would look for someone to run against Farnese this fall.
While Mucellin faces no charges, the indictment says "Person A" committed "crimes" to help Farnese win a 2011 election for Democratic ward leader via what prosecutors allege was a $6,000 bribe.
Asked if he was Person A, Mucellin told a reporter, "I obviously can't comment."
Farnese is accused of using $6,000 from his political fund to help finance college study abroad for the daughter of an Eighth Ward committeewoman in return for her support in the 2011 ward leader vote.
Farnese, 47, and the committeewoman, Ellen Chapman, 62, are charged with conspiracy, mail and wire fraud, and violating the Travel Act.
Farnese spoke Thursday evening at a town meeting that the Center City Residents Association had scheduled before the indictment surfaced.
"I'm your neighbor," he told about 30 listeners. "You've known me for years. But I want to assure you . . . if there was ever a time . . . where I thought that if anything I was doing was wrong or even inappropriate, I would never have done it."
Farnese would not discuss Mucellin's role in the case, saying after the meeting, "That's really not for me to comment on."
Chapman, too, was at the meeting and declined to comment. Hosts had urged attendees in advance not to ask about the case.
The indictment says "Person A" helped arrange for $6,000 from the Friends of Farnese political action committee to go to Bard College in New York state to help pay for Chapman's daughter's study abroad.
"Farnese and Person A attempted to conceal and did conceal their crimes by, among other things, causing Friends of Farnese to file a campaign finance report with the City of Philadelphia and [the state] falsely listing the tuition payment as a 'donation,' " the indictment says.
Mucellin, 34, a lawyer, was field director for Nutter's successful 2007 mayoral run and then served for a year as his assistant director of government relations.
The indictment says Farnese used the $6,000 to persuade Chapman to switch her vote from another prospective ward-leader candidate. It says Person A coordinated the payment with Chapman and emailed an invoice for the study-abroad program to the treasurer of Friends of Farnese, who then sent a check to the college.
The Justice Department's Public Integrity Section in Washington handled the investigation. Officials said it was transferred there because of an unspecified local conflict of interest.
Mucellin's wife is a community outreach coordinator in the U.S. Attorney's Office in Philadelphia.
Indictments that say an unnamed and uncharged person broke laws sometimes signal that the person is providing evidence to investigators, often in return for a grant of immunity from prosecution. There was no word whether that was true of "Person A."
Prosecutors declined to comment Thursday on what role, if any, Mucellin may play in the case. "Court rules prohibit us from naming those not charged in a charging document," spokesman Peter Carr said in Washington.
Mark Sheppard, Farnese's lawyer, has said Farnese is "100 percent innocent of these novel charges" and expects to be cleared.
Farnese, a lawyer, is unopposed in seeking a third four-year term in the First District on Nov. 8. But Joe DeFelice, chairman of the Republican City Committee, said his party would search for an independent to support or would launch a write-in effort for a Republican.
U.S. Rep. Robert Brady, chairman of the Democratic City Committee, said Farnese would remain a ward leader for now. The unpaid but coveted post is filled by a vote of party committee people, typically two from each of a ward's voting divisions.
"It's up to the ward," Brady said. "They can have another election. They can have a recall. He could resign."