FBI spoke to Pittsburgh police bureau worker
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The federal investigation into the Pittsburgh police bureau continues to have ripple effects, with the FBI interviewing another employee and a federal court judge commenting on the former chief's recent notoriety.
Tamara Davis, a civilian working in the bureau's personnel and finance office, was interviewed voluntarily by FBI agents either Thursday or Friday, her spokesman, Warner Macklin III, said Monday.
Ms. Davis, Officer Tonya Montgomery-Ford and civilian payroll clerk Kim Montgomery have been placed on paid administrative leave pending the end of the FBI's investigation.
Federal prosecutors have remained mum about the probe. But acting police Chief Regina McDonald has said the target is the bureau's personnel and finance office, and Deputy Chief Paul Donaldson has said he believes agents are looking into allegations that money was misappropriated within the bureau.
Mr. Macklin, also serving as a spokesman for Officer Montgomery-Ford and Ms. Montgomery, said his clients feel as if they're being unfairly targeted.
"All three of them in their own right ... they think they're being picked on because they're women and they're low level," Mr. Macklin said.
He also suggested that some of the women's co-workers were jealous of their working relationship with former Chief Nate Harper, who resigned under pressure Wednesday after Mayor Luke Ravenstahl met with federal investigators for two hours.
Ms. Davis and Officer Montgomery-Ford were listed as organizers on state incorporation papers for Diverse Public Safety Consultants, a business also organized by Mr. Harper, Cmdr. Eric Holmes and Sgt. Barry Budd. Cmdr. Holmes and Sgt. Budd remain on normal duty.
Mr. Macklin said the women would sometimes go to lunch with Mr. Harper while he was chief and most of the time they "paid Dutch."
People "were jealous they had access to the CEO of the department, even though he didn't shower them with any favors," he said. "What they feel is it was just a lot of people who were jealous because they had access to the chief like that."
Ms. Montgomery handled processing of the payroll data for the mayor's bodyguards among other police bureau employees, Mr. Macklin said.
Mr. Macklin also disputed on Monday the level of friendship Mr. Ravenstahl attributed to them and the mayor's former bodyguard, Fred Crawford Jr.
Mr. Crawford, a retired detective who guarded the mayor for several years, told the Post-Gazette that Mr. Ravenstahl was aware that Mr. Crawford used a debit card connected to an account at the Greater Pittsburgh Police Federal Credit Union, from which the FBI took copies of records.
Mr. Crawford claimed that the card was deliberately tied to a noncity account so the mayor could skirt public records laws that might compel disclosure of his expenditures to the media.
The mayor denied Mr. Crawford's accusations and said he thought Mr. Crawford came forward to the Post-Gazette because he was upset about the forced resignation of Mr. Harper and was trying to divert media attention from Ms. Davis, Officer Montgomery-Ford and Ms. Montgomery. The mayor said Mr. Crawford was "very close" with them.
"She's never visited the man's home. They've never gone out," Mr. Macklin said of Ms. Montgomery's relationship with Mr. Crawford.
Mr. Crawford's relationships with Officer Montgomery-Ford and Ms. Davis were similar, Mr. Macklin said.
Also a point of controversy is Mr. Harper's relationship with Art Bedway, a Robinson man indicted and accused of paying bribes to secure a contract to install radios and computers in police cars. Mr. Bedway on Monday asked for, and received, a one-month extension to file pretrial motions.
Mr. Bedway has pleaded not guilty and appeared before a grand jury believed to be looking at the contract and possibly police bureau financial transactions.
Judge Cathy Bissoon gave Mr. Bedway's attorney, Martin Dietz, an extension until March 27.
Prosecutors have said Mr. Bedway, 63, controlled Alpha Outfitters, a company that got around $337,000 for installing the computers and radios. Former city systems analyst Christine Kebr, 56, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy and confirmed in court that she helped Alpha Outfitters to get the contract and took $6,000 in bribes from Mr. Bedway.
Mr. Harper was a friend of Mr. Bedway's but has denied having any involvement in the contract award. Mr. Harper's wife, Cynthia Harper, worked for Victory Security, with which Mr. Bedway has been associated.
Also on Monday, a federal judge denied a city of Pittsburgh request to delay a trial in a police-abuse case in light of the resignation last week of Mr. Harper.
U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Schwab wrote his order in the case of Jarret Fate, who sued the city, Mr. Harper and Assistant Chief George Trosky in relation to a 2010 run-in with former city Detective Bradley Walker.
Mr. Walker was found guilty of three misdemeanors in what has been described as a road rage incident. Mr. Walker was fired from the city police, but Mr. Fate has argued that he was not appropriately supervised.
The city sought to delay the March 18 trial. Judge Schwab wrote that the city's reason for seeking the postponement was "perceived 'extreme' negative publicity" surrounding Mr. Harper.
Judge Schwab continued that "there is no reason to believe that any publicity surrounding Mr. Harper would diminish over the [four to six] months for which Defendants request for a continuance.
"To the contrary, it is possible, if the investigation continues and if proceedings are instituted against Mr. Harper, that such publicity may increase and become more negative over the time period requested for a continuance."
First Published February 26, 2013 12:00 am