Bernie Kerik Pleads Guilty to Misdemeanors

Update: Bernie pleads guilty. More details here in the New York Times.

Former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, who was nominated by Bush to be Homeland Security Chief after being recommended for the job by his pal Rudy Giuliani, will plead guilty Friday to two misdemeanors for failing to report gifts from contractors. The contractors are alleged to have ties to organized crime.

At today's proceeding, Mr. Kerik is expected to acknowledge that while serving as correction commissioner, he paid only a fraction of the cost of a $200,000 renovation to his Bronx apartment that was started in 1999 by associates of the contractor, Interstate Industrial.

Detailed background on the allegations against Kerik is here. Unanswered questions will remain after Kerik pleads guilty today, particularly about how much Rudy knew about Kerik's closeness to the company when he appointed Kerik to the Police Commissioner job in 2000. The Times reports:

While the renovation has come to light only recently, the city's Department of Investigation had long known of Mr. Kerik's relationship with Interstate. City records show that two months before he was made police commissioner by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, city investigators knew that Mr. Kerik was friendly with the owner of Interstate, a New Jersey construction company that was seeking a license from the city. And investigators knew the company had recently hired both Mr. Kerik's brother and the friend who was best man at his wedding.

Mr. Giuliani has said that none of this information was brought to his attention before he made his decision to appoint Mr. Kerik.

The terms of Kerik's deal:

Mr. Kerik plans to plead to two misdemeanor charges, and is expected to admit failing to report accepting the renovation, a person with information on the agreement said yesterday. He is also expected to admit failing to report a $29,000 loan from a friend, a real estate developer, that he used as the down payment on the apartment, the person said.

Under the arrangement, Mr. Kerik would not serve any time in jail and would keep his private investigator's license and his pistol license.

That's one helluva deal. When the Kerik-HSA mess first happened, readers may recall I decided not to bash Kerik too much since he is represented by my good pal Joe Tacopina -- who obviously has done a great job for Bernie. So I'm going to skip over Bernie again and get to the bigger issue. Rudy and Bernie.

Even after Bernie withdrew his nomination for Nannygate and other assorted personal reasons, Rudy continued to support him, even taking him as his guest to Bush's 2005 inaugural:

Giuliani, in an interview before entering his party, told reporters: "Bernie is a very, very good man. He's gone through a difficult time but he is a person who's done a tremendous amount to help my city, my country."

Rudy has always told different stories about his relationship to Kerik. For example, in 2002, he called Bernie the brother he never had, while after Kerik's HSA nomination failed, he said they weren't particularly close.

And this from Newsweek:

Giuliani said repeatedly that Kerik's role in the firm is very limited, representing "less than 5 percent" of its business. He also said that Kerik's position was largely limited to their joint venture, Giuliani-Kerik. "He's not part of Giuliani Partners," the former mayor said. But at the firm's Web site, Kerik is described as a "Senior Vice President at Giuliani Partners." Giuliani later explained the discrepancy by saying: "Senior vice president of the group is what Bernie was when we started. I think that remains his title, but that's not the way we primarily relate to him.

White House officials believed Rudy got badly burned politically by the Bernie mess -- although they say Bush never particularly liked him anyway. According to the New York Times,

Republicans say that Mr. Bush felt little affection for Mr. Giuliani, and that he was particularly perplexed as the mayor allowed his personal life to unravel publicly in the spring of 2000. "There aren't a lot of people close to the president who have those kind of experiences," said the Republican close to the administration, referring to Mr. Giuliani's admissions of infidelity with the woman who became his third wife and to his bitter split from his second wife, Donna Hanover. "It's an issue of not understanding it. I've had discussions with him where he's asked, 'What's this guy all about?'"

The New York Daily News reported at the time that Rudy had "called in a chit" to get Kerik the HSA appointment.

So now, Kerik, the former Police Commissioner of New York and Bush cabinet-level appointee is going to admit to breaking the law. He won't be going to the Bernie Kerik House of Detention, but I'm hoping this is something Rudy will never live down.

Update: Rudy testified before the grand jury investigating Kerik in April. Did he supply a nail in Bernie's coffin?

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