Pittsburgh police Chief Nate Harper said today he plans to return to work Monday and said he has not testified before or received a target letter from a federal grand jury believed to be investigating a 2007 city contract awarded to a firm affiliated with a former friend of his.
Of the federal investigation, the chief said: "It'll take its course, and I don't have any comment on that, and I'll deal with that when I get back to work."
The chief has been off of work since the Jan. 15 death of his mother, Geraldine. He said today that he has been busy dealing with the funeral and other duties, like cleaning out her apartment.
His bereavement leave has coincided with a grand jury's continued review of circumstances surrounding the city contract with Alpha Outfitters, a firm that was paid about $334,000 to install radios and computers into Pittsburgh police cars.
According to federal prosecutors, Alpha Outfitters was run by Art Bedway, a longtime friend of the chief, who is accused of paying bribes totaling $6,000 to city systems analyst Christine Kebr for help in winning the contract.
Ms. Kebr pleaded guilty last month to conspiracy in connection with her role in the contracting process.
Documents and statements by federal prosecutors have indicated that there was a third individual present at meetings between Mr. Bedway and Ms. Kebr.
Asked whether he was involved in those meetings at which three people planned Alpha Outfitters' bid, Chief Harper said, "No."
He said he never received any money from Mr. Bedway, saying speculation to the contrary was "not accurate."
"No I didn't, and that'll come out as well," Chief Harper said.
He said he hasn't seen the indictment of Mr. Bedway, who has pleaded not guilty and appeared before the grand jury this week.
On Oct. 2, 2006, a business called Renaissance Day Spa, based at Mr. Bedway's home, changed its name to Alpha Outfitters. Officially owned by Lois Kolarik, it was "falsely represented that Alpha Outfitters was a wholly owned Women's Business Enterprise," federal prosecutors have said.
The meetings between Mr. Bedway, Ms. Kebr and the third individual followed shortly after that.
The city hired Ms. Kebr, of Castle Shannon, in 2001. She left 10 years later earning $60,591 a year.
In December 2006, according to prosecutors, Ms. Kebr supervised a demonstration installation of mobile computers into city patrol cars by Alpha Outfitters.
In March 2007, she confirmed at her plea hearing, she helped to prepare the city's request for proposals that would invite companies to bid on the job of installing hundreds of computers and radios.
Mr. Bedway, prosecutors have said, arranged for Alpha Outfitters to rent a garage in Esplen. He and Ms. Kebr together drafted Alpha Outfitters' bid, prosecutors have said.
As a city employee, Ms. Kebr then reviewed the two proposals received.
The bid process was complex and the prices quoted were close.
For instance, Alpha Outfitters bid $235 for installation of the computers, versus $240 for Staley Communications.
Ms. Kebr recommended Alpha Outfitters, according to federal prosecutors, and her supervisors gave their approval for the contract.
She received two payments of $3,000 each from Mr. Bedway, she confirmed at her plea hearing.