Pittsburgh police chief's possible role in shell company probed by grand jury
By Bobby Kerlik and Margaret Harding
Published: Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
A federal grand jury is investigating whether Pittsburgh police Chief Nate Harper played a role in awarding a city contract to a shell company that a friend set up.
The investigation is related to the prosecution of Arthur J. Bedway, 63, of Robinson, the owner of Carnegie-based Victory Security.
In November, federal prosecutors accused Bedway of conspiring with a former city employee and unidentified others to set up a company, Alpha Outfitters, to win a contract to install computers in police vehicles.
U.S. Attorney David Hickton declined to answer questions about the case.
Harper, 59, of Stanton Heights has not been charged. He could not be reached for comment. Police spokeswoman Diane Richard said Harper “doesn't know what you're referring to” when asked about the investigation.
He has said the police bureau “had no involvement in securing this contract or making any payments.”
Mayor Luke Ravenstahl appointed Harper as chief in October 2006. He joined the department in 1977 and is set to make $105,000 this year. Harper reports to Public Safety Director Mike Huss, who declined to comment.
Joanna Doven, a spokeswoman for Ravenstahl, also declined to comment.
Harper has described Bedway as a former friend. The chief said his wife, Cynthia Harper, 58, once worked as a consultant with Kathleen Bowman, co-owner of Victory Security.
Bowman, 61, of Robinson couldn't be reached. Bowman's attorney, Charles Porter, declined to comment.
Attorney Martin Dietz, Bedway's lawyer, declined to comment. Bedway could not be reached.
Christine Kebr, 56, of Castle Shannon, a former senior systems analyst for the city, pleaded guilty on Dec. 6 to conspiracy and is awaiting sentencing. She could not be reached. Her attorney, Gary Gerson, did not return calls.
The city paid more than $327,000 to Alpha Outfitters between 2007 and 2009 for work done on police vehicles, according to federal prosecutors. A grand jury charged Bedway with bribery, conspiracy and mail fraud, saying he and Kebr conspired in 2006 with others to form Alpha Outfitters as if it were a female-owned business so he could bid on a contract.
Kebr worked for the city's information systems department from October 2001 until she resigned in July 2011. Her salary was $60,592.
Her supervisor, Howard Stern, said investigators talked to him, but he thought it ended with Kebr's guilty plea.
“All I know about it is what I've read in the papers and seen on TV,” said Stern, who retired in May.
According to the indictment, Bedway told Kebr he was creating Alpha Outfitters, with a “straw owner,” to bid for the contract. They began meeting in 2007 to draft a bid.
Kebr took part in reviewing the bid for the city in July 2007 and recommended accepting it, the indictment states. After the city accepted the bid, Bedway paid Kebr $3,000 in cash for her assistance.
City Finance Director Scott Kunka signed the contract. He did not return a call for comment.
Council in 2006 authorized spending the money for the Alpha Outfitters contract but did not approve the contract, according to Controller Michael Lamb. Council passed legislation authorizing Kunka or the director of General Services to award contracts for certain services.
The Alpha Outfitters bid and contract listed Lois Kolarik as the contact person for the company.
“I have no comment,” said Kolarik, 61, of Sheraden. Her attorney, Stephen Stallings, declined comment.
The Pennsylvania Department of State lists Alpha Outfitters as an active company.
The Pittsburgh Housing Authority in August terminated a $3.7 million contract with Victory Security for failing to consistently provide security at housing complexes.
Staff writers Brian Bowling and Bob Bauder contributed to this report. Bobby Kerlik and Margaret Harding are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Kerlik can be reached at 412-320-7886 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Harding can be reached at 412-380-8519 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.
- Patients nationwide die waiting as 1 in 5 kidneys rejected by doctors
- Officials identify Chartiers shooting victim as Wilkinsburg man
- Film tax credits bill would bump up state budget
- Pope Francis inspires incredible optimism
- Bethel Park man to receive degree from Pitt he earned 64 years ago
- Newsmaker: Rosalind Ross
- Castle Shannon man accused of crashing way down Pittsburgh street
- 1 dead, 1 wounded in shooting at Chartiers party
- South Fayette mother wants case against bullied son to be dropped
- Bullied South Fayette student’s case prompts wiretap overhaul legislation
- Man found fatally shot in Larimer a mile away from Homewood peace march