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Federal judge OKs UPMC hiring forensics expert for Ravenstahl computer

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014, 1:54 p.m.

UPMC can hire someone to make a forensic mirror image of the hard drive in former Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's work computer, but it has to pay for two copies, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday.

If the health care giant elects to go that route, the copies will be kept in tamper-proof, sealed packages and remain in the hands of outside attorneys for UPMC and the city until further order of the court, U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti said.

UPMC has asked to examine the computer to determine whether Ravenstahl might have deleted evidence relevant to ongoing legal battles between the UPMC and the city.

The city is claiming in state court that UPMC doesn't meet the definition of a public charity and should be required to pay property and payroll taxes. UPMC claims in federal court that the city's challenge violates its constitutional rights.

The judge last fall issued a preservation order in response to UPMC's concern that evidence would disappear as the city changed mayors. Ravenstahl served more than seven years before Bill Peduto took office this year.

The city and Ravenstahl said in a court filing last week that he did not delete anything during the 10 days in December and January when he had the computer at his house in Fineview.

A forensic mirror image would preserve the status of the hard drive, including any remnants or other evidence of deleted files.

If UPMC has the copies made, the vendor who does the work will have to sign a confidentiality agreement to not reveal what is on the hard drive, Conti said in her order. Neither side could open the package or analyze the mirror images without the court's permission, the judge said.

Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-325-4301 or




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