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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Pennsylvania

Friday, October 18, 2013

Former Pittsburgh Police Chief Diverted Office Funds, Failed To File Federal Tax Returns

PITTSBURGH – Former Pittsburgh Police Chief Nathan E. Harper pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of conspiracy and willful failure to file income tax returns, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today. Harper, 60 of Pittsburgh, pleaded guilty to five counts before United States District Judge Cathy Bissoon.

"This case is about greed and the theft of taxpayer money for private gain," stated U.S. Attorney Hickton. "Public officials, especially those who serve in law enforcement, have a responsibility to make governmental decisions in the best interests of the citizens, not themselves."

FBI Special Agent in Charge Gary Douglas Perdue added, "Investigating public corruption remains one of the FBI’s highest priorities. We will continue to pursue public officials who violate Federal law."

"Each of us is responsible for filing correct and accurate tax returns," said Special Agent in Charge Akeia Conner. "No public official gets a free pass to ignore the tax laws, and IRS Criminal Investigation works diligently to ensure that everyone pays their fair share."

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that Harper was the Chief of the City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Police. From 2009 to 2012, he caused at least $70,628.92 in checks and cash received by the Special Events Office of the Department to be diverted to two unofficial accounts at the Greater Pittsburgh Police Federal Credit Union. Using Visa Debit cards, Harper obtained more than $31,000 in ATM withdrawals and debit purchases, all for his personal benefit. Harper also failed to file federal tax returns for the years 2008 through 2011. The total tax loss for all four years was $22,427.

Judge Bissoon scheduled sentencing for Feb. 25, 2014, at 10 a.m. The law provides for a total sentence of nine years in prison, a fine of $650,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Pending sentencing, the court continued Mr. Harper on bond.

Assistant United States Attorneys Robert S. Cessar and Lee J. Karl are prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation conducted the investigation leading to the indictment in this case.

Updated July 14, 2015