Pittsburgh police chief Harper returns to work as grand jury continues

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Pittsburgh police Chief Nate Harper returned to work today after nearly two weeks off the job.

Chief Harper had been off work since the Jan. 15 death of his mother, Geraldine Harper, 83, of the Hill District. Spokeswoman Diane Richard said he took three bereavement days and the rest were discretionary days that he had earned.

His absence overlapped with new developments in a federal grand jury investigation looking at how a contract was awarded to a former friend of the chief.

Entrepreneur Art Bedway, his wife Colleen Bedway and Pittsburgh police Sgt. Gordon J. McDaniel, who oversees the bureau's vehicles, all appeared before the grand jury Tuesday. Former city employee Christine Ann Kebr, who has pleaded guilty to conspiracy in connection with the contract, appeared Wednesday before the grand jury.

Prosecutors have said that Mr. Bedway, Ms. Kebr and an unidentified third person met on or about Oct. 27, 2006, to talk about Alpha Outfitters, a company connected to Mr. Bedway that received a $327,000 contract to install police radios and computers.

Prosecutors wrote in a criminal information that Mr. Bedway and Ms. Kebr met at the office of another company connected to Mr. Bedway, Victory Security, and outlined Alpha Outfitters' bid for the city contract.

Prosecutors said Ms. Kebr then engineered the city's process to make sure Alpha Outfitters received the contract.

Chief Harper said last week that he has not testified before or received a target letter from a federal grand jury, was not involved in the three-person meeting at Alpha Outfitters and never received any money from Mr. Bedway.

Of the investigation, he 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."

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Liz Navratil: lnavratil@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1438 and on Twitter: @liznavratil.


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