Grand jury investigating Pittsburgh police chief meets for second day
By Brian Bowling and Bobby Kerlik
Published: Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, 12:52 p.m.
A prosecutor on Wednesday presented at least one more witness to a federal grand jury investigating whether Pittsburgh police Chief Nate Harper played a role in awarding a city contract that defrauded the government.
Former city employee Christine Kebr, 56, of Castle Shannon spent about 30 minutes in the grand jury room. She pleaded guilty in December to helping businessman Art Bedway, 63, of Robinson set up a shell company to win a contract to install computers in Pittsburgh police cars.
The grand jury is investigating whether Harper, 59, of Stanton Heights was involved. He has not been charged and has said the police bureau “had no involvement in securing this contract or making any payments.” Harper was unavailable for comment.
Kebr and her attorney, Gary Gerson, declined to comment after her appearance, as did Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Cessar, the prosecutor in the case.
Bedway spent two hours on Tuesday testifying before the grand jury. He and his attorney, Martin Dietz, declined comment afterward.
University of Pittsburgh law professor John Burkoff said the timing of Kebr's appearance, a day after Bedway's, provides no clue about the status of the case.
Prosecutors could have asked the jury to indict or they could be months away from making a request, he said.
“There's just no way to tell,” Burkoff said. Grand jury proceedings are secret.
What's more certain is that Kebr is a prosecution witness since she made a plea agreement with the government. Federal prosecutors rarely make plea deals that don't require a defendant to cooperate in an investigation, Burkoff said.
“There's no reason, if you're the government, not to put that in and that's the primary reason (for a plea bargain) in a multi-person investigation,” he said.
Bedway's appearance before the grand jury was unusual because he's under indictment for conspiracy, bribery and mail fraud. He sought a delay in his case on Jan. 10 because he was discussing a plea agreement with prosecutors.
Legal experts said his appearance could signify he reached a deal with the government.
Court documents say Kebr and Bedway conspired with others to set up Alpha Outfitters to obtain the contract. In bid documents, the company claims to be a wholly woman-owned business, a factor that would help in its consideration. The bid listed Lois Kolarik, 61, of Sheraden as company contact. Her attorney, Stephen Stallings, declined comment.
Prosecutors say Bedway controlled the company. They say Kebr accepted $6,000 from Bedway for her role in the fraud.
Staff writer Margaret Harding contributed to this report. Bobby Kerlik and Brian Bowling are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Kerlik can be reached at 412-320-7886 or email@example.com. Bowling can be reached at 412-325-4301 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers defense’s rapid decline looks similar to that of Steel Curtain’s
- Starkey: NHL stuck in stone age
- Steelers notebook: Roethlisberger comes to Haley defense again
- Pirates general manager Huntington is searching for right player, deal
- Pirates notebook: Polanco ruled out as Opening Day option
- Woodley says he’s fine with move to right side despite numbers
- Help on deck to help Jeannette deal with Monsour, nearby buildings
- Penguins’ Neal apologizes, vows to be better
- Highmark health plan enrollment skyrockets from Healthcare.gov
- Likely $2.3B influx puts PennDOT big-ticket road projects in play
- PNC plans to do away with tellers