Harper, Bedway dispute details of radio purchase

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Neither a Robinson businessman nor a former Pittsburgh police chief would admit Tuesday to being the alpha male behind a bribery scandal, as attorneys for the two offered opposing accounts in pre-sentencing sparring.

Entrepreneur Art Bedway, 64, who is hoping to get probation at his sentencing next Tuesday, claimed in a court filing that former Chief Nate Harper drove the creation of Esplen-based Alpha Outfitters. The firm got $327,729 to install and service radios and computers in police cruisers.

Defense attorney Marty Dietz wrote in the filing that his client, Mr. Bedway, "agreed to undertake the actions at issue in this case at the request of a longtime friend," the former chief.

Mr. Harper "vehemently denies that he created Alpha Outfitters or that he was associated in any way with Alpha Outfitters," countered Robert Leight, one of the former chief's attorneys.

Mr. Bedway pleaded guilty to conspiracy, bribery and mail fraud in relation to the contract. Former city systems analyst Christine Kebr, 56, of Castle Shannon, is set to be sentenced Feb. 11 for conspiracy in the matter. Mr. Harper faces a Feb. 25 sentencing on unrelated charges of conspiracy to commit theft from a federally funded program, and failure to file tax returns.

Mr. Dietz wrote that Mr. Harper was not happy with another company that had handled the communications equipment in the cruisers.

"Mr. Harper advised Mr. Bedway that he had a contact within the City of Pittsburgh that could influence the award of the bid and Mr. Harper introduced Mr. Bedway to Christine Kebr," Mr. Dietz wrote. Ms. Kebr steered the contract to Alpha.

"Mr. Harper had indicated that he would be retiring in the near future and he hoped that Alpha Outfitters would become a viable entity and serve as a source of post-retirement income," Mr. Dietz wrote. Acquaintances of Mr. Harper and Ms. Kebr, who are not named in the memo, got jobs at Alpha, he added.

Mr. Dietz wrote that Mr. Bedway got $3,000 from Alpha, versus $6,000 paid to Ms. Kebr and $9,000 to Mr. Harper.

"Nate Harper also denies vehemently that he received any money from Art Bedway," or from anyone else in relation to Alpha Outfitters, Mr. Leight said.

Federal sentencing guidelines recommend 12 to 18 months in prison for Mr. Bedway's crimes.

Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1542. Twitter: @richelord. First Published January 7, 2014 5:06 PM

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