Over his more than 36 years of service, former Pittsburgh Police Chief Nate Harper accumulated a pension that would have paid him $5,260 a month. So, if he lived another 15 years, it would have been worth $946,800.
But because he pleaded guilty to conspiracy and tax evasion charges related to the diversion of just under $32,000 for his personal use, his pension is now worth $0—at least to him.
The police pension board voted unanimously Dec. 12 to forfeit Harper’s pension. But they did so after first telling his attorney Samuel Stretton there would be a hearing where he could argue against rescinding the pension, then voting anyway. Stretton called the board’s action “outrageous.”
“You can’t tell someone there’s no hearing and then have the hearing without them,” he said.
Stretton plans to contest the board’s decision in court and that because of this action all board members should recuse themselves if a judge orders a new hearing and another vote.
State pension law says a public official’s pension can be forfeited if he is convicted of certain crimes. Neither conspiracy nor tax evasion is among those enumerated.