Harper to stay off job for now
By Jill King Greenwood
Published: Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013, 11:02 p.m.
Pittsburgh Police Chief Nate Harper will be off the job for an undetermined amount of time, police brass confirmed Thursday.
Deputy Police Chief Paul Donaldson issued a memo to the entire police bureau saying, “In addition to my normal duties I will continue to serve as the Acting Chief of Police until the return of Chief Harper.”
Harper, 59, of Stanton Heights has been out of the office because of his mother's death.
“As far as I know, Chief Harper has not stepped aside and is still taking care of the affairs of his mother,” said police spokeswoman Diane Richard.
Richard said it is normal procedure for the deputy chief to send out notifications of who is in charge while the chief is away. She said she did not know when Harper would return.
She said police officials initially expected him to return this week, “so another notification was sent out saying that (Donaldson) was continuing as acting chief.”
Donaldson's email was news to City Council President Darlene Harris.
“I haven't heard that,” Harris said. “I talked to Donaldson around 4 or 5 this afternoon and nothing was said then.”
A federal grand jury is investigating whether Harper, who has been chief since 2006, was involved in awarding a contract to a shell company set up by his one-time friend Art Bedway.
Bedway, 63, of Robinson owns Carnegie-based Victory Security. In November, federal prosecutors accused Bedway of conspiring with a former city employee and unidentified others to set up Alpha Outfitters to win a contract to install computers in police vehicles.
Harper has not been charged and has said the police bureau “had no involvement in securing this contract or making any payments.”
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 former city employee Christine Kebr, 56, of Castle Shannon, conspired in 2006 with others to form Alpha Outfitters as if it were a female-owned business so he could bid on a contract.
This week the grand jury heard testimony from Bedway and Kebr, who spent about 30 minutes in the grand jury room. She pleaded guilty in December to helping Bedway.
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.
Harper joined the department in 1977 and is set to make $105,000 this year.
Neither Joanna Doven, press secretary for Ravenstahl, nor Public Safety Director Michael Huss could be reached for comment.
Sgt. Michael LaPorte, president of Fort Pitt Lodge No. 1, Fraternal Order of Police, could not be reached for comment.
Jill King Greenwood is an assistant metro editor for Trib Total Media. Staff writers Bobby Kerlik, Margaret Harding and Michael Hasch contributed to this report.
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.
- Population expansion in Western Pennsylvania hinges on immigrants
- Landslides put Baldwin firefighters in financial peril
- Police fatally shoot man in Wilkinsburg after chase
- Change in kidney allocation rules should help patients
- Film tax credits bill would bump up state budget
- Bethel Park man to receive degree from Pitt he earned 64 years ago
- Catholic learning sessions to start in Pittsburgh
- Shale oil, gas drilling boom wins favor with labor unions, thwarting environmentalists
- Castle Shannon man accused of crashing way down Pittsburgh street
- Newsmaker: Toni Silva
- Newsmaker: James Lange