Bernie Kerik Pleads Guilty to Lying To Government and Tax Evasion

Update: The Plea Agreeement is here. (pdf)

Update: Judge says Bernie has done much good in his life and he will consider bail pending sentencing. For now, he will remain in jail.

Jailed former NY Police Commmissioner Bernie Kerik pleaded guilty today to charges he lied to the White House on his application to become Homeland Security chief in 2004, after being nominated for the position by President George W. Bush.

Kerik will also admit to tax evasion. The tax counts were set for trial separately. In all, he will plead to eight charges.

Mr Kerik made the first of eight expected pleas at a court in White Plains, New York state, on Thursday. The admissions are part of a plea bargain designed to head off three pending trials on 15 federal counts. Mr Kerik had previously denied all charges.

The prosecution is recommending a sentence of 27 to 33 months in prison . The plea documents are not yet on the court's website. [More...]

However, there is a letter from the psychiatric director of the forensic unit of Westchester Medical Center saying Bernie has been determined not to need psychiatric intervention. On Nov. 2, the doctor wrote, "He was discharged from the unit earlier this morning as he poses no risk to himself or others due to any psychiatric illness." The AP article also notes the case was an embarrassment to both Bush and Rudy Giuliani:
Giuliani, a Republican, had named Kerik police commissioner, had gone into private business with him and had pushed President George W. Bush to nominate him to run the Department of Homeland Security.
Update: The New York Daily News reports he's also pleading guilty to theft of honest services, but the Government is dismissing the most serious charges, mail and wire fraud. However, this report says the theft of honest services count was not addressed in court.
Mr. Kerik, 54, pleaded guilty to two counts of tax fraud, one count of making a false statement on a loan application — the most serious — and five separate counts of making false statements to the federal government....One charge that had been expected, depriving the public of his honest services as a government official, was not addressed.

Sentencing is set for Feb. 18. The Judge said to Bernie:

“I think you had a very full life,” Judge Robinson told Mr. Kerik, saying he would take the good with the bad as he mulled sentencing. “There is much good in that full life, I believe.”

Update: The U.S. Attorney has issued a press release (pdf):

KERIK pleaded guilty before United States District Judge STEPHEN C. ROBINSON to: one count of obstructing and impeding the due administration of the internal revenue laws from 1999 to 2007, one count of aiding in the preparation of a false tax return (for the 2000 tax year), one count of making a false statement on a loan application, and five counts of making false statements to the federal government. Two of the false statement counts – the two counts that KERIK also agreed to transfer to White Plains from Washington, D.C. – relate to materially false statements that KERIK made to White House officials vetting him for the position of Secretary of the United States Department of Homeland Security.

...At today’s plea hearing, KERIK admitted, among other things, that in 1999 and 2000 he received substantial renovations to his Riverdale apartment through Interstate (a metropolitan area-contractor) and conceded that Interstate paid approximately $255,000 for the renovations. KERIK also admitted that around the same time, he contacted New York City regulators concerning Interstate. KERIK further admitted that he failed to report the value of the renovations he received through Interstate on his federal tax returns. And KERIK admitted that he made false statements to the White House concerning the renovations he received on his Riverdale apartment and his relationship with Interstate when he was being vetted for the position of Secretary of the United States Department of Homeland Security.

Page 2 of the press release is a chart of the counts to which Kerik pleaded and the possible sentences. The tax counts carry a maximum of three years each, the false statements to the government carry five years each, and the false statement on the loan application carries a maximum penalty of 30 years.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Link does not indicate what the judge (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by oculus on Thu Nov 05, 2009 at 11:58:58 AM EST
    described as "good works" by Kerik.  

    the judge said (none / 0) (#5)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Nov 05, 2009 at 12:08:55 PM EST
       "I think you had a very full life," Judge Robinson told Mr. Kerik, saying he would take the good with the bad as he mulled sentencing. "There is much good in that full life, I believe."

    Damper on Rudi's Chances (none / 0) (#10)
    by BackFromOhio on Thu Nov 05, 2009 at 12:57:48 PM EST
    I hope this guilty plea puts a damper on Rudi's chances of being nominated or elected governor of NY

    Ifyou were watching the WS last night (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by scribe on Thu Nov 05, 2009 at 04:19:42 PM EST
    you would have seen Giuliani and his Mrs. (a/k/a Princess Judi) seated in the owners' seats next to the Yankee dugout.  There was no one in teh seat to Mrs. Giuliani's left, and the people seated behind them did not appear tro be cnversing with them at all.

    All in all, they looked very lonely in the crowd.

    Some wag in the bar where I was watching the game also noted that Judi wore black gloves with a chocolate brown coat and further speculated that the empty seat next to her had been reserved for and occupied by her enormous handbag.  Those who followed his campaign and this site closely will remember the practice when he was still campaigning for President last year was that Judi's handbag had its own reserved seat on the campaign plane.  

    I hope his campaigns crash and burn in every attempt he makes for elective office for the rest of his life.


    One has to remember that Kerik rose (none / 0) (#14)
    by scribe on Thu Nov 05, 2009 at 04:25:13 PM EST
    from being the orphaned son of a drug-addicted street prostitute in Paterson, NJ to being nominated for a position as a cabinet secretary.

    Whatever else one might say about his flaws - and he has many and had the choice been mine I would never have considered him for a high office because of his flaws (not his background) - the fact of the matter is that he was an able man and one who dedicated his life to his work. One could argue he is a walking Greek tragedy, and no one could deny that.


    He Had a Buddy in High Places (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by Randinho on Thu Nov 05, 2009 at 10:14:57 PM EST
    Giuliani made Kerik. He was made NYPD commissioner without a college degree at a time when everyone above the rank of captain had to have a degree.

    How Come No One Mentions (none / 0) (#18)
    by msaroff on Fri Nov 06, 2009 at 03:02:29 PM EST
    That the firm that bribed him is allegedly mob connected?

    It may not matter now for Kerik, but in looking at Giuliani in the future, this was his guy, who he mentored, and he's mobbed up.


    I think I get it now (5.00 / 5) (#9)
    by rdandrea on Thu Nov 05, 2009 at 12:20:59 PM EST
    You can go to prison for lying to the White House, but not for lying from the White House.

    No risk to self or others. Wow. (none / 0) (#1)
    by oculus on Thu Nov 05, 2009 at 11:31:47 AM EST
    Bright line.  Hope the reporting party doesn't get sued.

    for what? (none / 0) (#2)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Nov 05, 2009 at 11:39:30 AM EST
    the doctor was requested to report to the court, Bernie signed a release for that purpose and the letter is on file with the court and publicly available on PACER.

    In my experience, such letters contain (none / 0) (#3)
    by oculus on Thu Nov 05, 2009 at 11:46:21 AM EST
    some waffle language.  And I want them to, since I used to represent correctional institution staff.

    so you would want (none / 0) (#6)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Nov 05, 2009 at 12:10:26 PM EST
    them to fudge their reports to cover their behinds? Nice.

    It seems important (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by Steve M on Thu Nov 05, 2009 at 12:20:36 PM EST
    that experts acknowledge when they are unable to opine with absolute certainty.

    Psychiatry is an art, not a science. (none / 0) (#7)
    by oculus on Thu Nov 05, 2009 at 12:11:55 PM EST
    Regarding "Honest Services" (none / 0) (#11)
    by The Maven on Thu Nov 05, 2009 at 01:12:26 PM EST
    It wouldn't surprise me in the least if a major reason why the honest services charge wasn't addressed is because of the definite possibility that the Supreme Court will strike down the statute (18 U.S.C. §1846) in whole or in significant part in one of the cases addressing the statute the Court will hear this term (perhaps most likely in Weyhrauch v. U.S., set for argument on Dec. 8, along with Black v. U.S., which also deals with the statute).  It doesn't take an expert on the Court to know that a number of the justices won't look to kindly on the concept of an "intangible right of honest services".  Indeed, Scalia is already on record as wanting to eviscerate the statute:
    "invoked to impose criminal penalties upon a staggeringly broad swath of behavior . . .  Without some coherent limiting principle to define what `the intangible right of honest services' is, whence it derives, and how it is violated, this expansive phrase invites abuse by headline-grabbing prosecutors in pursuit of local officials, state legislators, and corporate CEOs who engage in any manner of unappealing or ethically questionable conduct."

    So as a prosecutor here, why risk a plea deal and sentence that might in any way be construed as relying upon a law that might be tossed out in a matter of months?

    are you a (none / 0) (#12)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Nov 05, 2009 at 03:09:46 PM EST
    "prosecutor here" or in real life? :)

    I agree with you on the "honest services" counts. I think the Supreme Court will toss it. It's also interesting that those counts were the ones that alleged he was recommending city contracts to a company (Interstate) with mob ties.  instructed witnesses to lie and attempted to obstruct the Bronx grand jury investigating him. So he's not guilty of any of that, and I think that was really the heart of their case -- or at least the reason they went after him so hard.


    Not Even (none / 0) (#15)
    by The Maven on Thu Nov 05, 2009 at 04:32:22 PM EST
    a lawyer, though I've been mistaken for one on more than a few occasions (anytime I'm offering an actual legal interpretation, I try to make the IANAL point clear).  But I grew up the son of a judge, and have worked in litigation support for over 20 years, so I tend to follow the ins and outs of things pretty well.

    As for the Kerik case, as an inveterate Giuliani hater and NYC native, I'd been tracking stories about Kerik's alleged misdeeds for many years now.  It will be interesting to see what Judge Robinson does here regarding sentencing, as he certainly hasn't been terribly kind to Kerik up to now.  One thing I can't quite understand is why, at this stage, the date set for sentencing isn't until Feb. 18.  That seems an unnecessarily long time to wait.


    all federal sentencings (none / 0) (#16)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Nov 05, 2009 at 04:41:51 PM EST
    take around 10 weeks. In our district, there's a standing court order specifying 10 weeks at the earliest. It takes many weeks for probation to do their report and then the defense gets 14 days to review and file objections. Then probation does a final report. Also, the date has to be coordinated with counsel's calendars. If one of Bernie's lawyers or the AUSA was in trial the last half of January, that would push the date into February.