Former Washington Co. DA to review Pittsburgh police rules on outside work
Former Washington County District Attorney Steven M. Toprani will review the Pittsburgh Police Bureau's policies for officers who moonlight or own businesses not regulated by the department, the mayor's office announced Monday.
Toprani, 34, of Monongahela, an attorney with the Downtown firm Leech Tishman Fuscaldo & Lampl, served as district attorney from 2007-11.
“I've been called many times throughout my time as DA to look into sensitive issues of police policy and procedure,” he said. “I've looked at everything from police moonlighting as security in concert events to actually doing security work at Marcellus drilling sites.”
Mayor Luke Ravenstahl called for the review of the bureau on Feb. 8 upon learning Chief Nate Harper partnered with four subordinates in forming the private security firm Diverse Public Safety Consultants LLC.
Questions about police side jobs and businesses surfaced last week when FBI agents armed with subpoenas removed records from bureau headquarters in the North Side. Karen Janoski, CEO of the Greater Pittsburgh Police Federal Credit Union in Elliott, said in an email Monday to the Tribune-Review that the FBI made copies of “account materials” there.
A federal grand jury is investigating whether Harper was involved in awarding a contract to a shell company set up by his one-time friend Art Bedway, 63, of Robinson.
The FBI seizure at police headquarters included records from the special events office, which oversees officers working off-duty as security guards at businesses, including bars and nightclubs.
Businesses pay officers' wages, plus an administrative fee, and the city deposits the money, amounting to about $7 million annually, in an account for on-duty officers' overtime. Ravenstahl and city fiscal officers, including Controller Michael Lamb, said they don't know how the police department tracks the cash, which is not included in annual budgets.
The administrative fees generate about $700,000 in annual revenue.
Credit union board President Frank Amity said last week that the FBI wanted financial records from an account created by Harper's office. Several names were on the account along with Harper's, Amity said.
City Solicitor Daniel Regan said in an email on Monday that the city recently found out about several accounts at the credit union, some of which were opened in 2004. Harper, 60, of Stanton Heights, who was unavailable for comment, was promoted to chief in 2006.
“To our knowledge, the accounts have been closed, and we are in the process of investigating how funds in the accounts were used and by whom,” Regan said.
Lamb, who began an audit of police accounts last week, said the credit union is not an authorized depository for city money. It would be theft to divert city money to an unauthorized bank account, he said.
“If in the course of our audit we found that there was money directed to a noncity account, we would report that to law enforcement,” Lamb said.
Janoski said several customers have expressed concerns about the security of their accounts, but she assured them they are safe.
Toprani has worked in private practice since he left the district attorney's office. He served as an attorney in former Gov. Ed Rendell's Office of General Counsel, where he assisted the state Department of Public Welfare.
Regan said the city would work out payment terms with Toprani this week.
Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-765-2312 or email@example.com.
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.
- Not to be left behind, speedy Steelers are on the fast track in NFL
- Rossi: Steelers will make small strides this season
- The IRS scandal: Do the Lois Lerner emails still exist?
- Steelers have plenty of new faces at wide receiver
- Customers anxious for details about Highmark transition plan for W. Pa.
- In last preseason game, a final audition for some Steelers
- McKeesport Area teacher fired amid sex scandal returns to school
- Starkey: Bucs still battlin’
- Jury deliberating sex assault charges against ice cream shop owner
- Annual Rib Festival at Heinz Field promises plentiful good food, music
- Penguins GM insists new coach Johnston was no afterthought