Camera returned, but photos wind up with lawyer in Pittsburgh
How much is Yarone Zober's camera and more than 1,000 personal photos worth to him• The answer falls somewhere between $20 and a criminal extortion investigation.
Zober, chief of staff to Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, said his digital camera was either lost or stolen during a bicycle ride Downtown last month.
Police recovered the camera from Wesley Connor, 40, of Wilkinsburg, who said he found it on a sidewalk outside the federal courthouse.
But in a bizarre twist, more than 1,000 photos stored on the camera showing Zober vacationing and attending official events fell into the hands of Lawrence Fisher, a Downtown lawyer representing Connor who has publicly criticized Ravenstahl's administration.
Fisher represented ousted Urban Redevelopment Authority head Pat Ford, who called Ravenstahl's administration corrupt.
Zober got his camera back, through police intervention, but Fisher made copies of the photos and downloaded them to his laptop. He said he believes it is legal for him to keep them on his computer and distribute them to anyone who requests them.
"(Connor) called the office and said, 'Hey, I found your camera,' which I thought was great," Zober said. "And then the person asked me if there was money involved, and I said, 'I don't know. I just bought another camera.' I said, 'I can give you $20.' "
Zober said Connor accepted the offer and agreed to return the camera, but then didn't.
A day later, Zober said, Connor wrote him an e-mail explaining he looked at Zober's photos and was offended by some that he believed made a mockery of gang violence. In one photo, a female companion of Zober's is pictured holding up a gang sign that spells "blood" with her fingers.
Connor wrote he was "insulted" by Zober's offer of $20 and demanded an apology. Connor said he would give the photos to the news media and the NAACP to "let them see how you think gangs are so hilarious and let them deal with the implications of your actions."
Zober called police, who persuaded Connor to turn over the camera through Fisher. The lawyer said he told Connor the law required him to return the camera.
Zober declined to discuss the photos and said he didn't think his vacation photos were newsworthy.
Public Safety Director Michael Huss accused Connor of running a "blackmail" scheme.
"The guy was just trying to get money out of Yarone, and Yarone was trying to get his camera back," Huss said.
Connor denied he was looking for money. He said he only wants an apology from Zober. Connor, who was charged in Maryland with theft in the past, said his cousin was killed by gang violence in 1995 in Pittsburgh.
Huss said Zober did not press charges, in part, because he's uncertain whether the camera was lost or stolen.
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.