Alpha Outfitters founder Bedway charged with bribery, conspiracy in Pittsburgh contract

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The founder of several local companies has been charged with bribery, conspiracy and mail fraud and is due to appear in federal court at 1:45 p.m. today.

Arthur J. Bedway Jr., 63, of Robinson, created Esplen-based Alpha Outfitters, which won a city contract in 2007 to install, service and maintain the computers in Pittsburgh police cars. Police Chief Nate Harper, who had been a friend of Mr. Bedway, avoided any involvement in the contracting process, he has said.

According to the charges against Mr. Bedway, he falsely portrayed Alpha Outfitters as a woman-owned business. He then conspired with a city employee, Christine Kebr, to win the contract, and paid her for assistance, in violation of laws against bribing an agent of an organization receiving federal funds.

Ms. Kebr, hired by the city in 2001, was a senior systems analyst earning $59,403, according to payroll records. She is not on the city's current roster, but the date and nature of her departure weren't immediately available.

Ms. Kebr could not be immediately reached.

Mr. Bedway made his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Maureen Kelly today and was released on $100,000 unsecured bond.

He is allowed to travel to Florida, where he has business interests, but must not have any contact with victims or witnesses in the case.

He did not speak during the brief appearance.

Judge Kelly told him he faces a maximum of 20 years in prison on the mail fraud counts, 10 years on the bribery count and five years on the conspiracy count.

Federal sentences, though, are usually much lower than that and are often driven by the amount of money gained in a scheme and the defendant's criminal history.

Prosecutors also filed a criminal information this afternoon against Ms. Kebr. She faces only one count, for conspiracy.

Mr. Bedway's attorney, Martin Dietz, would not discuss specifics of the case, but said the city was not ripped off.

"The City of Pittsburgh got the benefit of a bargain," said Mr. Dietz. "My understanding is that Alpha Outfitters did submit the lowest bid, and they did the work." The company also serviced vehicles for other municipalities, he said.

The indictment names only Mr. Bedway, and includes seven counts. It said that Mr. Bedway approached Ms. Kebr to discuss a proposal in which the two of them, and an unnamed individual, would join in a business.

Ms. Kebr, according to the indictment, then helped the city put together its request for proposals, and helped Alpha Outfitters to craft its bid. Ms. Kebr recommended to others at the city that they award the contract to Alpha Outfitters, it said. Then she helped Alpha Outfitters to submit invoices "which inflated the amount of and work performed" by the firm, it said.

Chief Harper, in an email response to questions, wrote that the bureau "had no involvement in securing this contract or making any payments." Nor was the bureau involved in the investigation, he wrote.

The city paid about $330,000 under the contract.

Around Christmas 2007, the indictment said, Mr. Bedway gave Ms. Kebr "an envelope containing $3,000 in cash" in return for her help.

The FBI arrested Mr. Bedway earlier this week. His initial court appearance will be before U.S. Magistrate Judge Maureen Kelly.

Alpha Outfitters was created in 2006, according to state records, and the president and owner was Lois Kolarik. According to her 2005 bankruptcy filing, she was an employee of Victory Security.

Mr. Bedway has chaired Carnegie-based Victory Security, a large guard firm he founded that has been credited with reducing crime in several housing developments and which employed Chief Harper's wife for a time.

The Pittsburgh Housing Authority hired Victory Security to provide armed guards, unarmed guards and later constable-equivalent security personnel at its communities.

In August, however, the authority terminated one contract with Victory, saying the firm had failed to place enough constables in seven communities. The contract was ended nearly three months after a constable who had managed much of the operation for Victory, but who was fired by the firm, told the Post-Gazette that other personnel were submitting questionable documentation of their work for the authority.

Victory employed Cynthia Harper for a period that has not been disclosed by Victory or by her husband, Chief Harper, who said last year that she left to stop rumors in the security industry about the nature of her work there.The chief wrote today that his wife worked as a consultant for Victory and described Mr. Bedway as "a past friend."

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Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1542 and on Twitter: @richelord.


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