Pittsburgh police personnel official's housing application questioned

Civilian employee facing scrutiny on several fronts

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An employee at the center of the federal probe of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police has lived for a decade in low-income public housing following an income verification process that involved another now-suspended police headquarters worker and may now undergo federal scrutiny.

Tamara Davis, 46, of the Oak Hill section of the Hill District, is involved in several bureau matters that have attracted scrutiny and led to the resignation last month of police Chief Nate Harper.

Ms. Davis, a civilian who is the No. 2 staffer in the police personnel and finance office, signed a $4,000 withdrawal receipt dated Sept. 28, 2009, from the now-controversial I.P.F. account at the Greater Pittsburgh Police Federal Credit Union. That same day, someone deposited a $5,675.52 check from the University of Pittsburgh, made out to the City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, into the I.P.F. account, despite the fact that it was not authorized to receive city funds.

Ms. Davis had one of eight debit cards that drew from the I.P.F. account. The FBI is asking about the use of those cards, according to multiple sources who have been interviewed by federal agents.

In February 2012, she filed incorporation papers for Diverse Public Safety Consultants, an embryonic business that also listed as its incorporators then-Chief Harper, then-Sgt. Eric L. Holmes, Sgt. Barry Budd and Officer Tonya Montgomery-Ford. Mr. Holmes is now a commander. Ms. Montgomery-Ford, like her mother Kim Montgomery and Ms. Davis, is on paid administrative leave.

The original location of Diverse Public Safety Consultants was 345 Burrows St., a duplex in the well-kept Oak Hill community. Formerly Allequippa Terrace, Oak Hill was redeveloped by Boston-based Beacon/Corcoran Jennison and is now a mixed-income area. It includes subsidized apartments, some market-rate units and a handful of owner-occupied homes.

Ms. Davis' unit was constructed using federal subsidies that require that new renters earn less than 60 percent of the area median income. Around May 2003, when she applied for the unit, the resulting income ceiling for a family the size of hers was $25,980, according to officials at Beacon/Corcoran Jennison.

City records show that Ms. Davis earned $25,391 in 2002, but $31,082 in 2003. Beacon/Corcoran Jennison representatives said that privacy rules prevent them from disclosing the precise income reported by Ms. Davis. They said, though, that she provided an income verification form signed by a representative of her employer, and was found to be qualified on that basis.

City payroll records from 2003 suggest that for all but the first month of 2003, Ms. Davis was supervised by bureau personnel and finance manager Sandra Ganster. But a person who has seen the income verification form submitted by Ms. Davis said it was signed by Kim Montgomery. Ms. Montgomery was an account clerk then, and is now a payroll clerk.

Ms. Montgomery was also involved in D & T Enterprises, a business with which Officer Montgomery-Ford was also associated. D & T in 2011 billed the bureau $7,037 for catering and draw-string bags.

Ms. Montgomery's attorney, Michael Machen, declined comment.

Warner Macklin III is a spokesman for Ms. Davis, Ms. Montgomery and Officer Montgomery-Ford. He said that he did not know if Ms. Montgomery signed the verification form for Ms. Davis.

"Every year Ms. Davis has followed the rules explicitly," said Mr. Macklin. Ms. Davis has annually and accurately reported her earnings to property managers, he said.

Ms. Davis' city earnings have risen steadily since, to $44,047 last year. That is well above 60 percent of 2012 area median income, but that doesn't disqualify her from remaining in the unit. While income increases bump a public housing resident's rent upward, to a ceiling of $593 a month in units like Ms. Davis', they do not trigger eviction, according to a Pittsburgh Housing Authority spokesman.

Beacon/Corcoran Jennison regional manager Paul Mahoney said the firm has handled Ms. Davis' application appropriately.

One Beacon/Corcoran Jennison official said that the company has been advised that the FBI has permission to look at Ms. Davis' housing file, and that the firm may ask for a Department of Housing and Urban Development review. Another Beacon/Corcoran Jennison official said he did not know of any ongoing or anticipated federal reviews of the file.

An FBI spokeswoman declined comment on whether the bureau had sought or received permission to review the file.

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


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