Ex-Pittsburgh police chief Harper planning to plead guilty in early summer

Former Pittsburgh police Chief Nate Harper plans to plead guilty this summer to conspiracy and tax charges, and continues to talk with federal investigators, his attorneys said Thursday during and after a status conference on the case against him.

Robert Leight, one of Mr. Harper's attorneys, said the former chief has met with federal investigators twice since his indictment a month ago. He also was interviewed repeatedly by the FBI and IRS in the weeks leading up to his indictment.

Mr. Leight and Mr. Harper's other attorney, Robert Del Greco, declined to say whom Mr. Harper was talking about or to say whether federal agents were asking him about Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.

They said Mr. Harper has not been asked to go before a grand jury but added that he would do so if asked.

Last month, Mr. Harper was indicted on one count of conspiracy involving the use of public funds for personal use, and accused of directing the diversion of some $70,000 into an unauthorized account, from which he then spent $31,986 on personal expenses. He is also charged with failing to file tax returns from 2008 through 2011.

His attorneys said they do not expect any further charges will be filed against the former chief, and have no reason to believe that he will be charged in relation to a contract the city entered into six years ago with Alpha Outfitters, an Esplen firm that equipped city patrol cars with radios and computers. A former friend of Mr. Harper's, Art Bedway of Robinson, has been indicted in relation to that contract, and a former city systems analyst has pleaded guilty to conspiracy.

Assistant U.S. attorney Robert Cessar said little during Thursday's status conference other than to confirm that there were no ongoing problems with discovery in the case.

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Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1542 and on Twitter: @richelord. First Published April 18, 2013 7:00 PM


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