Former Pittsburgh police chief Nate Harper is expected to pleads guilty today to conspiracy and tax charges, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The plea is set to occur before U.S. District Judge Cathy Bissoon. His attorneys have said that federal guidelines call for around 10 to 16 months in prison based on the charges and his lack of criminal history. Also potentially the subject of a court fight is Harper’s $5,260-a-month pension, which he began collecting in March. Unlike private pensions, the retirement benefit of a public servant can be rescinded if he or she commits certain crimes; conspiracy is not one, though theft is.
Conspiracy is something of a gray area in pension forfeiture law. Most pension attorneys interviewed this week said they think Harper stands to lose his benefit. Harper, who resigned in February at the request of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, is accused of conspiring with unnamed others to divert $70,628 in public funds and spending $31,986 on personal uses, ranging from meals and alcohol to an XM satellite radio, oven and television. The money was paid to the police bureau by private entities that required the services of off-duty police, and was meant for the city’s general fund. Instead, it was shunted to unauthorized accounts.