There was a part of Barry Gross, one of Philadelphia's chief mob-busters over the last couple of decades, that was happy to doff the white hat, climb on the trusty steed, and ride off slowly into the sunset.

"We had pretty much accomplished what we had set out to do when we started in the 1980s," said the former assistant U.S. attorney, who often was the lead prosecutor in local federal mob-oriented cases. "After the Joey Merlino case, I had been through the prosecution of four mob bosses. The Philadelphia La Cosa Nostra had decimated itself by its own killings and the prosecutions. It was time to think of something new."

So, Gross, 56, took an early retirement from the U.S. Attorney's Office this year. A week later, he got a call from the prestigious law firm Drinker Biddle & Reath in Center City.

The firm wanted him as a partner in its white-collar-crime section.

Gross, who grew up in Media, Delaware County, and graduated from the Villanova University School of Law, seemed as much a part of the last quarter-century of Philadelphia mobdom as the dons he went after: John Stanfa, Ralph Natale, Latin King honcho William "King Homicide" Sosa, Merlino. He had a hand in all their prosecutions.

"It fit my skill set," Gross said. "My expertise has been in long-term investigations, which I find rewarding. I like getting involved in an investigation at the beginning, looking for the problem, seeing the way to the solution. La Cosa Nostra cases were like that, as were many that I dealt with during my time with the U.S. Attorney's Office."

Investigations that Gross handled included one at the Philadelphia Housing Authority in which seven contractors and a dozen officials were convicted of bid-rigging and extortion.

It was his savvy in those long-term investigations that attracted Gross to Drinker Biddle & Reath, and vice versa.

Plus, he said, "I told a friend that I won't have to worry about having my back to the wall in restaurants anymore." At Drinker, he said, he will be involved not only in defending clients in white-collar cases, but also in conducting investigations for clients - well before a prosecution would take place.

Although it may not be the headline-grabbing life he used to lead, Gross said he is ready for new challenges.

"Drinker was offering me a place to do what I do best: those long-term investigations. So it would have been hard to not say yes to the offer." - Robert Strauss

Thomas W. Driver has been named director of operations for the corporate office of Keystone Asset Management. He had been default operations manager at GMAC Mortgage, Horsham.

Kim Sajet has been named president and chief executive officer of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. She has been senior vice president of the museum and public programs at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. She will begin her new position April 2.

DNB Financial Corp., Downingtown, has named Gerald Sopp executive vice president and chief financial officer. He had been vice president and chief compliance officer.

Matthew Rotella has been named vice president of options derivatives trading development systems at the Philadelphia Stock Exchange. He had been director of application analysis/infrastructure and development.

Mark McLaughlin has been appointed vice president of supply chain at Just Born, the Bensalem maker of Marshmallow Peeps and other candies. He had been vice president of human resources and corporate affairs.

John Nickolas has been promoted to vice president and chief financial officer of the Philadelphia Phillies from director of finance and accounting.

John Weber has been named vice president, sales and ticket operations. He had been director of sales.

Edward W. Bernton has been named medical director of Protalex Inc., a New Hope biotechnology company. He had been a biotechnology industry consultant in Washington.

Bryan Russo has been named vice president of business development for chronic-care services of excelleRx, a Philadelphia-based hospice pharmacy services company. He had been national sales manager for Concentra Medical Centers, North Charleston, S.C.

Kanter International, a Philadelphia company that conducts business consulting, brand planning and marketing, has hired three new senior executives:

Justin Cupps is now vice president of consulting. He came to Kanter from And1, where he was vice president, international business development.

Joe Herget, the new senior vice president of strategy, had been national vice president, strategic marketing for the American Diabetes Association.

Larry McGearty is now Kanter's chief creative. He was creative director at Gyro Advertising in Philadelphia.

Sivoo, a Philadelphia Internet-TV network of multicultural on-demand entertainment programming, appointed Alan Sternfeld executive vice president, multicultural networks. He was formerly senior vice president at Lifetime and executive vice president at ABC Entertainment.

Sivoo also appointed two-time Emmy award winner George Chung vice president of production.

Joseph Mahady has been promoted to president-global business of Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Collegeville, and senior vice president of Wyeth, based in Madison, N.J. He had been president-U.S., and has assumed responsibilities for the rest of the Americas.

Geno Germano has been promoted to president-U.S. and general manager of Wyeth Pharmaceuticals from executive vice president, pharmaceutical business unit.

Aqua America Inc., Bryn Mawr, has promoted the following officers:

Christopher Franklin to regional president of southern operations and senior vice president of public affairs and customer operations. He had been vice president of public affairs and customer operations.

Mark Kropilak to senior vice president of corporate development and corporate counsel from vice president of corporate development.

Karl Kyriss to regional president of the Mid-Atlantic operation, adding responsibility for New Jersey and New York. He had been president of Aqua Pennsylvania Inc.

Kathy Pape to senior vice president, treasure and rate counsel from vice president and rate counsel.
- Inquirer staff