Former Pittsburgh police chief Harper loses bid for reduced sentence

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Nate Harper's 18-month prison sentence need not be reconsidered, U.S. District Judge Cathy Bissoon ruled Tuesday, just hours after his new attorney asked her to have mercy on Pittsburgh's former police chief.

The attorney, Milton Raiford, urged in a motion that Judge Bissoon consider not only Harper's repentance and his many meetings with prosecutors, but the message his imprisonment would send.

"To imprison him reinforces to young African-American males the fact that the system is legally rigid, unforgiving and not to be trusted," Mr. Raiford wrote. "Put him in a position to show children what not to do," he wrote. "You cannot do that from prison."

He wrote that it was "clear error" on Harper's part not to enter into a plea agreement in the case, and that error allows the court to reconsider the sentence. Harper pleaded guilty in October without any agreement.

"The information contained in the motion was fully argued and considered by the court in its sentencing decision," Judge Bissoon wrote in an order in response. She wrote that she considered Harper's history and his prompt plea of guilty in sentencing him to a prison term at the low end of the federal guideline for his crime.

She added that there "has been no evidence of substantial assistance" granted by Harper to investigators.

Harper, 61, of Stanton Heights, also faces a year of post-release probation and $31,987 in restitution. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit theft from a federally funded program and four counts of failure to file tax returns. He has not yet been assigned to a federal penitentiary.

Rich Lord: or 412-263-1542. Twitter: @richelord. First Published March 11, 2014 12:08 PM

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