Federal prosecutors say in court filings that Harper was leader of conspiracy
February 21, 2014 11:20 PM
Darrell Sapp / Post-Gazette
Former police chief Nate Harper
By Rich Lord / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
In what appears to be the final legal jockeying in advance of Nate Harper's sentencing set for Tuesday, prosecutors Friday backed up their claim that the former Pittsburgh police chief was a leader of a conspiracy.
Though Mr. Harper, of Stanton Heights, pleaded guilty to conspiracy, his attorneys have said in pre-sentencing filings that his civilian underlings were not co-conspirators. They have also said that it was not his idea to create an unauthorized account at a credit union and to fund it with checks sent to pay the city for officers' moonlighting jobs.
"There was a conspiracy with multiple participants, and Harper organized, led, managed and supervised it," wrote assistant U.S. attorneys Robert Cessar and Lee Karl in a rebuttal. "Indeed, he instructed [subordinates] to misapply the funds at issue."
They reminded U.S. District Judge Cathy Bissoon that Mr. Harper pleaded guilty to conspiracy -- a crime which, by definition, involves others. They also said that the former chief did not object to the indictment alleging that he ordered diversion of $70,629 to the unauthorized account and spent $31,987 on personal expenditures.
"As such, the defendant has already conceded that there were other participants and that he organized, led, managed and/or supervised them," the prosecutors wrote.
If the judge decides that Mr. Harper was a leader, then federal sentencing guidelines would suggest a sentence of 11/2 to two years. If he was not a leader, then the guideline sentence would be one to 11/2 years.
The judge is not required to follow the guideline.
Rich Lord: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1542. Twitter: @richelord. First Published February 21, 2014 12:41 PM
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