Former Pittsburgh Chief Harper Gets 18-Month Prison Sentence

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Former Pittsburgh police chief Nate Harper today was sentenced to 18 months in prison for conspiracy to commit theft from a federally funded program, and failure to file tax returns.

U.S. District Judge Cathy Bissoon handed down the sentence nearly a year after Harper was indicted following what appeared to be a whirlwind investigation by the FBI.

The judge called Harper’s diversion of funds a “quintessential case of government corruption and betrayal of the public trust,” adding that he treated an unauthorized credit union account as “a personal ATM.”

The judge also ordered Harper to pay restitution of $31,987 and to serve one year of probation following his release from prison.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2014/02/25/Former-Pittsburgh-police-chief-Nathan-Harper-sentenced/stories/201402250123#ixzz2uNCftqtk

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City Controller Michael Lamb Conducting Broad Audit Of Pittsburgh Police Bureau

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pittsburgh Controller Michael Lamb quietly launched a broad audit of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police last week, according to communications obtained by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette under the state right-to-know law.

The controller’s office launched the performance audit — which, as opposed to a fiscal audit, can go beyond dollars — through an email of March 21 to acting police Chief Regina McDonald.  The email said preliminary objectives include “secondary employment and staffing.”  The first meeting with Chief McDonald occurred Wednesday.

Other communications between top controller’s office officials and top police brass show that auditors launched a review of the police Premium Pay Account on Feb. 8 by emailing bureau personnel and finance manager Sandra J. Ganster.  On Feb. 9, Ms. Ganster brought her concerns about the alleged diversion of funds meant for that account to public safety director Michael Huss, her attorney has said.  The alleged misapplication of funds meant for the account last week became the centerpiece of the criminal case against former police Chief Nate Harper.

“It does appear that our [inquiry] is what prompted a whistle-blower to step forward,” Controller Michael Lamb said.  “I think that the work that we’ve done has helped to unveil this scandal.”

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-city/city-controller-michael-lamb-conducting-broad-audit-of-pittsburgh-police-bureau-681299/#ixzz2OwWQ6pb9

Attorney: Ex-Pittsburgh Police Chief Nate Harper To Plead Guilty

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Former Pittsburgh police chief Nate Harper intends to plead guilty after a grand jury returned an indictment against him Friday charging him with conspiracy and tax evasion, his attorney said.

Robert Del Greco Jr. said the evidence against Mr. Harper was “unambiguous.”  He said Mr. Harper would plead guilty to all five counts contained in the indictment without modification.

“It’s a felony,” Mr. Del Greco said this afternoon.  “It’s cost him his career, possibly his pension.  I don’t know that I could put it any better.”

He said his client’s actions were indefensible, that the “lure of the account” proved an “irresistible temptation.”

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/region/federal-grand-jury-meeting-suspended-police-finance-manager-on-hand-680415/#ixzz2ONLqh8zO

Pittsburgh Officer’s January Memo Alerted Police Command Of Fund Diversion

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pittsburgh police Deputy Chief Paul Donaldson ordered a secret credit union account to be shut down after learning of its existence in January from then-Assistant Chief Regina McDonald, he said Friday night.

The deputy chief confirmed that he has been cooperating with federal investigators probing the flow of funds into the Pittsburgh police bureau‘s personnel and finance office and has been interviewed by the FBI.

In January, Deputy Chief Donaldson said, Assistant Chief McDonald, who is now acting police chief, approached him after being made aware that an officer at police headquarters had written a formal memo documenting concerns about potentially questionable financial practices involving colleagues.

The memo, obtained by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, was dated Jan. 18 from Officer Christie A. Gasiorowski to her supervisor, Sgt. Carol Ehlinger.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-city/pittsburgh-officers-january-memo-alerted-police-command-of-fund-diversion-678558/#ixzz2N3QmJVuw

Pittsburgh Police Bureau’s Finance Chief Claims Harper Told Her To Divert Funds

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  Now it’s going to start “hitting the fan”.  This is gonna get way worse before it gets better.

The attorney for the Pittsburgh Police Bureau‘s finance manager said Thursday his client was instructed by former chief Nate Harper to open a credit union account now under federal scrutiny and followed his orders in diverting tens of thousands of dollars to it from funds meant for the City of Pittsburgh.

William H. Difenderfer represents police personnel and finance manager Sandra J. Ganster, who, he said, reported her concerns about the account to city Public Safety Director Michael Huss on Feb. 9.  He said his client has since spoken twice to federal authorities.

“The chief would tell her, basically, keep roughly a $3,000 balance in this account,” Mr. Difenderfer said.  “Like she said, I guess the best way to describe it was, ‘It had an odor, but the chief directed me to do it, and I did what he told me to do.’  She didn’t feel comfortable with it … but obviously complied.”

He estimated that between $28,000 and $37,000 was diverted to the credit union account since about 2008 or 2009 when the account was opened.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-city/police-bureaus-finance-chief-claims-harper-told-her-to-divert-police-funds-678454/#ixzz2My5KUCyn

Acting Pittsburgh Police Chief McDonald Says Changes Coming To Bureau

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Acting Pittsburgh police Chief Regina McDonald said FBI agents interviewed her today and that people can expect to see changes in the bureau within the next week.

Chief McDonald, a 32-year veteran of the force, would not specify what those changes will be or comment on the futures of those working in the office being investigated by the FBI or involved in a side business with former Chief Nate Harper, who resigned Wednesday at the request of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.

She said her primary goal will be to reestablish the ethics and integrity of the bureau.

“I guess you depend on the integrity of the people you put in various positions,” Chief McDonald said.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/politics-local/acting-pittsburgh-police-chief-mcdonald-says-changes-coming-to-bureau-676347/#ixzz2LZo4U4jY

Scranton PA – Electric City Building Boom Defies The Recession

Scranton

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Normally, when we think of boom towns, Scranton is not generally at the top of the list.  For decades Scranton has struggled with declining population and employment, as the area dealt with the death of “King Coal” and huge manufacturing losses.

Yet despite a major nationwide economic downturn, Scranton is in the middle of a building boom.  Another unusual factor is that this boom is primarily in center city.  Most cities are not seeing growth in their downtown areas.  Usually growth is occurring in the suburbs.

There are four major projects being built in Scranton that total more than $260 million dollars!  That’s not a small chunk of change for a city of 72,000 residents.  Heck, that’s not a small chunk of change for a larger city!

The projects include:

Construction of the Commonwealth Medical College - $120 million dollars

Several building projects at the University of Scranton – $116 million dollars

Connell Building renovation – $23 million dollars

Tobyhanna Army Deport Federal Credit Union headquarters construction - $4 million dollars

This is encouraging news for NEPA!  1,400+ workers in the building trades are finding employment during this frenzy of activity in Scranton.  These employers will add permanent jobs that will continue to benefit Scranton for years to come.