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Ex-Pittsburgh police chief gets 18 months for corruption

Feb. 25, 2014 at 4:28 PM   |   Comments

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- Pittsburgh's former top cop will spend 18 months in jail after being sentenced Tuesday on federal corruption charges, a judge has ruled.

Former Pittsburgh Police Chief Nate Harper will also serve a year of probation after his release and must pay back the money he stole, U.S. District Judge Cathy Bissoon said. Harper pleaded guilty in October to opening an unauthorized account at a credit union to divert some $70,000 in city funds collected for work off-duty police officers performed for private businesses. Prosecutors charged Harper spent $31,000 of the money on himself, including buying a stove, a television and an XM radio among other items, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

U.S. Attorney Robert Cessar said Harper could have received up to five years in federal prison after being indicted in March. Bissoon's sentence falls within federal guidelines for the corruption charge, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said.

Harper, 61, said he was devastated at his actions.

"I made a mistake," Harper told the judge before he was sentenced. "It has been devastating. I have tarnished the law enforcement community ... . I'm a broken man."

The federal investigation into Harper's actions is not over, Cessar said. Allegations have swirled for months former Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl was aware of the secret account -- and Harper's attorneys said Tuesday their client told investigators in admitting his guilt the diversion of funds was actually Ravenstahl's idea.

The former mayor's attorney denied the accusation and Cessar declined to comment on the ongoing investigation.

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