Pittsburgh's mayor's private attorney: He's just a witness

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Charles Porter, a prominent area defense attorney, said today that he is representing Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl in connection with a federal probe of the city's Bureau of Police, and emphasized that the mayor is only a witness.

"He was basically asked to speak with the government," said Mr. Porter. "He was advised that he was a fact witness. ... I routinely represent witnesses."

Mr. Porter confirmed that he accompanied Mr. Ravenstahl, as did a city attorney, on Feb. 20 when the mayor met with representatives of the FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office. "I can't discuss, obviously, the contents of anything," Mr. Porter said. He also declined to disclose the payment arrangement he has with the mayor, other than noting that the city is not paying for his services.

Mr. Porter said that he "made the effort to reach out to the U.S. Attorney's Office yesterday and was advised that nothing was changed, that [Mr. Ravenstahl] was a witness."

The mayor's statements about the meeting with the FBI have suggested that the subject was a probe of the flow of funds meant to pay for police secondary detail work into the police federal credit union, and the use by police bureau employees of debit cards tied to one account.

Mr. Porter said that he also represents Kathleen Bowman, chief executive officer of Victory Security, a Carnegie-based firm that is mentioned in court documents describing the case against Art Bedway. Mr. Bedway, who has also been associated with Victory Security, has pleaded not guilty to federal charges that he conspired with and bribed former city systems analyst Christine Kebr to get a $337,000 contract to install and maintain radios and computers in city police cars for the firm Alpha Outfitters. Prosecutors have said that one meeting related to the contract occurred at Victory Security's offices.

Mr. Porter said Ms. Bowman is a witness in that case.

Mr. Porter said that the credit union probe and the Alpha Outfitters case are separate, and that the U.S. Attorney's Office has confirmed to him that they do not view his representation of one witness in each matter does not reflect a conflict of interest.

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


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