Metro Beat: County CYF caseworker jailed, suspended in shootout car

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PITTSBURGH (AP) – An Allegheny County Children, Youth and Families caseworker has been suspended without pay and jailed on drug and weapons charges after she was stopped driving a bullet-riddled vehicle Pittsburgh police believe was involved in a shootout.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (http://bit.ly/1nur4Ac ) reports 39-year-old Medina El was arrested about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday. El’s passenger, 23-year-old Timothy Bazemore – a known gang member wearing a bullet-resistant vest – was also arrested.

Police stopped El’s vehicle when an officer saw it driving without headlights moments after hearing gunfire from several weapons a block away.

Police say they found marijuana and a gun in the vehicle. El didn’t have a permit to carry the weapon and Bazemore can’t legally own one because he’s a convicted felon.

Online court records don’ t list defense attorneys for either suspect.

Steelers bring back Joey Porter as coach

PITTSBURGH (AP) – Former All-Pro linebacker Joey Porter has rejoined the Pittsburgh Steelers as a defensive assistant coach.

Porter joined the Steelers staff after receiving his first coaching experience at his alma mater last season as a student assistant on Colorado State coach Jim McElwain’s staff while taking classes to complete his degree.

Porter worked with the Rams’ pass rushers, including linebacker Shaquil Barrett, who posted 12 sacks.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said: “We are excited about having Joey back with the Steelers’ family. Joey spent a number of years with Pittsburgh as a player, and now he’s back to assist the coaching staff. We look forward to his efforts and contributions.”

Porter played 13 NFL seasons with Pittsburgh, Miami and Arizona and was a four-time All-Pro.

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AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org

Cement truck hits bus in Pittsburgh, 10 hurt

PITTSBURGH (AP) – County transit police say a cement truck has rear-ended a bus in downtown Pittsburgh, hurting 10 passengers on board, though a transit spokesman says none had life-threatening injuries.

Port Authority of Allegheny County police Lt. Matt Porter says the cement truck toppled over after hitting the bus about 9:50 a.m. Wednesday.

Neither driver was hurt, but nine passengers were taken to UPMC Mercy hospital and a tenth to Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC.

Port Authority spokesman Jim Ritchie says the passengers’ injuries were typical of a rear-end accident, primarily bruises or complaints of neck and back pain.

Transit police didn’t immediately release the drivers’ names or say whether either would be cited.

The conditions of the passengers were not immediately available.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette leases new building

PITTSBURGH (AP) – The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has signed a lease to house its new printing and distribution center at an area industrial park.

The Post-Gazette (http://bit.ly/1kCzVTu ) announced the deal Wednesday. The media company says it will occupy a 245,000-square-foot building in the Clinton Commerce Park. That’s near the Pittsburgh International Airport.

Terms of the long-term lease weren’t disclosed.

The Post-Gazette plans to shut its downtown printing operations, and it expects the new printing equipment will be ready to use this summer. About 175 employees will move into the new site, starting next month and continuing throughout the year.

Editorial and advertising offices are expected to move out of the current downtown building next year. The plan is to keep them in the downtown area.

Carnegie Mellon, Yahoo reach $10M research deal

PITTSBURGH (AP) – Carnegie Mellon University and web browsing firm Yahoo Inc. have announced a five-year, $10 million research partnership in which the Pittsburgh school will help develop more user friendly smartphone apps that can learn and be personalized from users’ habits.

The deal announced Wednesday is called Project InMind, and will include a Yahoo-sponsored fellowship program to support students interested in researching machine learning and related technologies.

Students will also be enlisted to help test mobile applications that are developed by the partnership.

Carnegie Mellon, which is well-known for its research into computer science and artificial intelligence, already had tech partnerships with Apple, Google, Intel, Microsoft and Oracle.

Yahoo is based in Sunnyvale, Calif.

Guilty Pittsburgh worker blames ex-chief for scam

PITTSBURGH (AP) – A former city employee was sentenced Tuesday to probation for accepting $6,000 in bribes and blamed the former police chief for orchestrating a scheme that helped the chief’s friend land a $327,000 contract to install radios and computers in city police cars.

Christine Kebr, 57, was a systems analyst for the city when she accepted the money from the police chief’s businessman friend, Arthur Bedway Jr. The bid from Bedway’s business, Alpha Outfitters, was crafted to appear as if it came from a woman-owned company in order to take advantage of city set-asides for minority and woman-owned businesses, federal prosecutors said.

Kebr, who was sentenced to three years of probation, and Bedway have both claimed the 2007 scheme was the brainchild of former police Chief Nathan Harper.

“She’s a good soldier, she was dedicated to the police and Chief Harper, and that was her first lapse in judgment,” defense attorney Gary Gerson told U.S. District Judge Cathy Bissoon.

Harper’s attorneys have consistently denied wrongdoing.

“If Kebr and Bedway insist on deflecting their own responsibility by accusing the chief, so be it,” Harper’s attorney Robert Del Greco said Tuesday.

Del Greco said the duo’s allegations have been investigated and have not resulted in charges against his client.

Bedway contends he paid Harper $9,000, while Kebr claims to not know whether Harper received money, according to Gerson.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Cessar asked Bissoon for leniency because of Kebr’s “substantial” cooperation.

Prosecutors declined to comment after the sentencing, citing pending legal action against Harper in another case.

Harper resigned last February and later pleaded guilty to unrelated federal charges that he helped set up a secret $70,000 police slush fund using fees collected from bars and other businesses that hire city officers to work off-duty security details. He also pleaded guilty to spending more than $30,000 from the fund for personal reasons and not filing federal tax returns from 2008 to 2011.

Harper is scheduled for sentencing Feb. 25 in the slush fund case. His attorneys have said the fact that Harper hasn’t been charged in the bid-rigging scheme suggests that Bedway wasn’t credible. But the attorneys didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment after Kebr was lauded by prosecutors for providing substantially the same information that Bedway did about Harper’s alleged involvement in the bid-rigging.

Gerson said Kebr became involved because she was upset that a past vendor hadn’t properly installed electronic equipment in city police cars. Kebr, a “computer geek”, agreed to help Bedway get the contract after Harper assured her that Bedway’s company would do the job well, Gerson said.

Harper told her: “I’ve got someone in mind. And that someone, your honor, was Art Bedway,” Gerson told the judge.

Bedway is also serving three years of probation. His sentence does not include six months of house confinement, which Bissoon tacked onto Kebr’s punishment for violating the public trust as a city employee. Kebr also was fined $6,000, a fraction of the $30,000 the judge ordered Bedway to pay.

Gerson argued that Kebr didn’t like Bedway and initially resisted his efforts to pay her. Kebr eventually took $3,000 from Bedway, after the bid had been awarded, along with an identical amount months later, but she gave both sums to her brother, who had health and financial problems, Gerson said.

Gerson’s attorney said her motive was never financial.

Bissoon, who seemed perplexed, asked Kebr directly why she took the money.

“It was the stupidest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Kebr replied.

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