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Pittsburgh Bureau of Police workers in limbo, demand answers

Jeremy Boren
| Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, 12:15 a.m.

A mother and daughter suspended indefinitely from their Pittsburgh Police Department posts said on Saturday that they've hired criminal defense attorneys and deserve to know why their careers are in limbo during a federal investigation of the police bureau.

Acting police Chief Regina McDonald on Thursday suspended with pay Officer Tonya Montgomery-Ford and clerks Kim Montgomery and Tamara Davis until the FBI investigation is completed. Kim Montgomery is Tonya Montgomery-Ford's mother.

Davis and Montgomery-Ford are business partners of former police Chief Nate Harper. It's unclear what, if any, role the business relationship played in their suspensions.

McDonald has refused to explain why she suspended the three, saying the reasons are a confidential personnel matter and part of the federal investigation.

“Tell us why they were suspended,” said Warner Macklin III, a communications consultant and spokesman for all three women. “We just feel these women are owed something in this fiasco. So far, the city has not kept up its side of the bargain in giving justification as to why they were placed on leave.”

Diane Richard, a police spokeswoman, declined to comment on Saturday.

Officer Montgomery-Ford, 43, of New Homestead hired Megan F. Temple of the Downtown law firm Johnson, Bruzzese & Temple.

Montgomery hired attorney Michael J. Machen, Allegheny County's former chief public defender who is now in private practice. It's not clear whether Davis has a lawyer.

“I've always been dedicated to my duties of protecting the residents as a law enforcement officer while working in the community and conducting youth initiatives. I'm very eager to return back to work,” Montgomery-Ford, a 17-year police veteran, said in a statement.

In a similar statement, Montgomery said she has been a data entry clerk for 15 years. She hopes to return to the job.

“My faith in God and the love and support of my family and friends will see me through,” she said.

Both women said they would cooperate with authorities.

Davis, 46, and Montgomery, 59, both of the Hill District, worked in the personnel and finance office.

Davis, Montgomery-Ford, Cmdr. Eric Holmes and Sgt. Barry Budd formed a company — called Diverse Public Safety Consultants LLC — in February 2012 with Harper, who was then chief.

When Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl learned that Harper teamed with four subordinates to establish the consulting company, he called for a review of bureau policies on Feb. 8.

Ravenstahl asked for and received Harper's resignation Feb. 20. Harper has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

State corporation records list Montgomery-Ford as president of D&T Enterprises LLC. The city paid D&T about $7,000 in 2011 for providing catering and merchandise, according to city invoices. One contract said “D&T Enterprise Catering By Kim” was to provide dinner for a police program.

The FBI investigation centers in part on whether two spending accounts at the Greater Pittsburgh Police Federal Credit Union received or spent public money.

Two top police officials, Deputy Chief Paul Donaldson and Assistant Chief Maurita Bryant, said they learned only recently that credit union debit cards had been issued in their names without their knowledge.

Ravenstahl has said all three of his police bodyguards had been issued credit union debit cards in their names. The mayor blamed Harper for providing the cards.

Critics have said that by using the debit cards, cardholders could charge on-the-job expenses without filing receipts that would be available for public inspection.

Federal investigators copied records at the credit union and took at least nine boxes of documents from police headquarters in the North Side this month. Those actions occurred after a grand jury probe of Harper became public last month.

The grand jury is examining whether Harper helped award a city contract to a shell company created by his former friend Art Bedway, 63, of Robinson.

Jeremy Boren is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7935 or Staff writer Margaret Harding contributed to this report.

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