Ex-NYC Top Cop Pleads Not Guilty
There's more trouble for New York City's former top cop.
Bernard B. Kerik, New York City's ex-police commissioner and a candidate in 2004 to become the head of the Department of Homeland Security under President Bush, was charged this month with lying to his accountant and making false statements on a loan application. He pleaded not guilty today in federal court.
Kerik, 53, was originally charged in November 2007 with taking free gifts from a contractor, tax evasion and lying to White House officials during his vetting process for the cabinet post. The 16 corruption, mail and tax fraud, obstruction of justice and lying charges carry a maximum penalty of 142 years in prison. He was charged earlier this month with two additonal tax fraud charges.
Prosecutors say Kerik had his New York bank accounts filed with personal, interest-free loans from business people looking to do business with the city and federal government and subsequently left off those items on forms provided to the White House. Kerik's nomination in December 2004, and departure just days later, was an embarrassing episode for the Bush administration. Officials had billed Kerik as a proven crisis manager during the Sept. 11 attacks with a telegenic and symbolic presence.
The new, superseding federal criminal complaint filed this month against Kerik:
In reality, Kerik's connections to Lawrence Ray, a convicted felon with ties to a New York crime family painted a far different picture. Ray had worked as a security consultant for Interstate Industrial, a New Jersey construction company. Kerik, then commissioner of New York's corrections department, offered to help Interstate win contracts from Giuliani's administration, prosecutors say.
At the same time, Kerik accepted $255,000 in illegal gifts from Interstate that included extensive renovations to one of his apartments, according to court documents.
Kerik's background story is also one worthy for the screen: A high school dropout, Kerik was the son of a convicted prostitute who was killed when he was 9, reportedly by her pimp. He is a fifth-degree black belt in karate and served in Korea, where he fathered a child out of wedlock.
A former undercover narcotics detective in New York City, Kerik made a name for himself as ex-New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's driver. The pair later became partners in a security consulting firm and helped Kerik land a stint training Iraqi security forces after the U.S.-led invasion of the country in 2003.
He was also an aggressive fundraiser and campaigner for the Republican Party, making no secret of his political leanings as city police chief, reportedly keeping in his office a portrait of retired Marine Lt. Col. Oliver L. North.
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Posted by: Sideswiped | December 31, 2008 12:11 PM