Neither trumpets nor thunderclaps heralded the return of Rosa Photo to Callowhill Street this week.
Instead, the passport-photo truck that was hauled away in disgrace three weeks ago after cops busted four workers for allegedly selling fake IDs there rolled quietly back to Callowhill on Monday, back into business and back into fierce competition.
Since 1991, Rosa Photo has sold passport-size photos from its battered white truck on Callowhill Street, near the Immigration and Naturalization Services building on 16th Street.
When Joseph Wulu Doe set up shop with his own photo-dispensing truck across the street in 1995, a bitter rivalry took root. The feud grew so ferocious that City Council intervened in 2002, passing a bill restricting where the trucks could park, limiting how many employees could solicit potential customers and allowing each business to operate just one truck.
Fast-forward to Feb. 6, when two undercover officers asked Rosa employees about getting fake driver's licenses. Police say the officers were told that forged IDs could be bought for $25 or $40, and were presented with a book of state IDs from which to choose.
Rosa employees Robert Braun, 59; Xiaoye Han, 31; Barbara Jackson, 34, and Calina Salanta, 27, were charged with tampering with government documents, unlawful use of a computer and other offenses. The namesake of the photo truck, Rosa de Braun, was not charged.
A preliminary hearing for all four is scheduled for April 29, according to court records. They are free after having been released on their own recognizance.
Yesterday, a smiling Robert Braun appeared in his truck's back door and said: "I'm going to be courteous and tell you no comment."
Across the street, Doe, the Liberian-born businessman and part-time preacher from Southwest Philadelphia, had plenty to say.
"If you violate any law and the law catches you, I pray that you stop and continue to do the right thing," said Doe, who said he enjoyed a slight surge in business while Rosa was away.
Doe said he daily refuses requests from people asking him to forge driver's licenses and other documents.
"You can't make a fake driver's license, because when you do that, you tell them to drive without reading the rules and regulations. It's very dangerous," Doe added. "So the government should stand strong and crack these people down." *