Sentencing Memos Filed in Bernie Kerik Case
Former NY Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik is scheduled to be sentenced in a few weeks on his guilty plea to various tax offenses and false statement charges. Both sides filed lengthy sentencing statements yesterday.
Both parties have agreed to a guideline sentence in the range of 27 to 33 months. The Government is clearly hoping for the max of 33 months. Bernie is asking for 27 months.
Having read through the Government's 61 page sentencing memo and Bernie's (234 pages, including many letters), I have to wonder why the Government is making such a big fuss over 6 months. By pleading guilty, he saved the Government an enormous expense of time and resources that would have been required for a trial that would have lasted many months.
The case is largely based on the same conduct to which he pleaded guilty in the Bronx, and received no jail time. [More..]
What did he do that was so terrible? He didn't declare the value of the renovations on an apartment on his tax returns; he made false statements about them; he didn't declare the value of a BMW he received from a company he was working for; and he spoke for free at organizations and deducted his nomal speaking fee on his return as a charitable contribution. Total: About $300,000. He didn't tell the White House he had a full-time nanny whom he hadn't paid social security and medicare taxes for. (He's since paid them.) And he didn't warn the White House during the vetting process for Homeland Security Chief that his ties to Larry Ray and the Di Tommasso brothers could be portrayed negatively.
The Government makes a point of acknowledging that there is no evidence Kerik was involved in organized crime or had improper dealings with them. It says that because Kerik's brother and his former best man Larry Ray worked for the di Tomasso's company, he improperly asserted himself into an investigation of Interstate's activities. In other words, he meddled.
The defense , obviously, paints a far different picture of Bernie.
The only person the extra 6 months is going to make a difference to is Bernie...and the taxpayers who have to foot the bill for his incarceration.
The Government is also opposing Bernie's request for a voluntary surrender. That strikes me as mean-spirited. Most white collar offenders are allowed to voluntarily surrender to avoid sitting in a county jail for a month while BOP decides where they are going to be placed. In Bernie's case, because of his law enforcement background, he'll end up in segregation. That's just punitive and unnecessary, considering he's not a flight risk. He's been home with his wife and family since the Judge revoked and then reinstated his bail last fall, without any violations.
Why can't the Government be satisfied with a just sentence rather than have to go for the extra pound of flesh to make the sentence as miserable as possible for the defendant?
How is this related to his crimes?
“The defendant’s egotism and hubris were the tragic flaws that led him to commit the considerable number of crimes to which he ultimately pleaded guilty.... Mr. Kerik “became a wealthy man by shamelessly exploiting the most horrific civilian tragedy in this nation’s history.”
I also don't like that they disqualified two of his lawyers during his case, including my pal Joe Tacopina, pictured above with Bernie.
Bernie will also have a heavy restitution bill to pay, that will follow him around when he gets out from prison.
I may not share Kerik's politics, but I have no problem looking at the facts of his case and wondering what the big fuss is all about. And, at least doing so doesn't require me to agree with Rudy Giuliani, who couldn't even be bothered to write a sentencing letter for his former right-hand man -- the person he recommended George W. Bush appoint as Homeland Security Chief.
The federal case against Bernie was filed in 2007. He battled the state for a few years before that. Five years of fighting the Government takes a huge emotional and physical toll.
The Government ends its brief with the sentence: "Those who are charged with enforcing the law must first obey it themselves." That's true, but it should also be taken into consideration whether the defendants' unlawful acts were personal in nature, i.e., were not made with the intent to corrupt police business, and those, like Bernie, whose actions were personal ones, committed outside his law enforcement duties, intended solely to bring personal gain.
I'm not the judge but having read all of the pleadings of both sides since the case began, my view is Bernie should get the bottom of the guideline range, 27 months, and be allowed to voluntarily surrender and get to his designated facility as soon as possible. His sentence won't be over the day he gets out. He'll then have to deal with the difficult task of rebuilding his life and finding a way to support his family and pay his restitution.
When it comes to deterrence, I doubt anyone contemplating similar criminal activity is going to say, "Bernie only got 27 months, I'll take my chances and do the same thing" while if Bernie got 33 months, they'd say, "Oh that's way too much time, I'm not going to follow in his footsteps and take a chance on that big a sentence."
My prediction: The judge splits the difference, gives Bernie 30 months, and allows him to voluntarily surrender.
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