Friday, November 09, 2007

Organized Crime and Top Cops

Do they go together like bread and butter?

Ex-NYC Top Cop Indicted on Fraud Charges

By PAT MILTON | Associated Press Writer
6:47 AM EST, November 9, 2007

NEW YORK - Less than three years ago, Bernard Kerik stood proudly at a White House podium, being introduced as President Bush's pick to head the Department of Homeland Security. Now Kerik stands to face what could be the decisive chapter in a downfall as stunning as his rise.

Kerik, a former New York police commissioner under then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani and a failed nominee for homeland security secretary, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on corruption charges, a person close to the investigation said. Kerik was expected to surrender to authorities Friday to be arraigned, a federal law enforcement official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the secrecy of grand jury proceedings.

The charges in the indictment include mail and wire fraud, tax fraud, making false statements on a bank application, making false statements for a U.S. government position and theft of honest services, according to the person close to the investigation. The theft charge essentially accuses a government employee of abusing his position and defrauding the public.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the indictment was sealed and wasn't expected to be unsealed until Kerik's arraignment Friday.

The indictment does not include any charges stemming from allegations of eavesdropping related to former Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro's pursuit of information about whether her husband was having an affair, the person said.

Another person familiar with the investigation, who wasn't authorized to speak publicly, said Kerik would turn himself in Friday morning and be arraigned at noon in U.S. District Court.

Prosecutors had been presenting evidence to a federal grand jury for several months, asking jurors to consider charges including tax evasion and corruption.

The investigation of Kerik, 52, arose from allegations that, while a city official, he accepted $165,000 in renovations to his Bronx apartment, paid for by a mob-connected construction company that sought his help in winning city contracts.

Kerik pleaded guilty last year to a misdemeanor charge in state court, admitting that the renovations constituted an illegal gift from the construction firm. The plea spared him jail time and preserved his career as a security consultant, but his troubles resurfaced when federal authorities convened their own grand jury to investigate allegations that he failed to report as income tens of thousands of dollars in services from his friends and supporters.

Kerik was police commissioner on Sept. 11, 2001, and his efforts in response to the terrorist attacks helped burnish a career that came close to a Cabinet post.

Before the apartment scandal broke, Giuliani, now a Republican presidential candidate, endorsed Kerik's 2004 nomination to head Homeland Security. But only days after Bush introduced Kerik as his nominee, Kerik announced he was withdrawing his name because of tax issues involving his former nanny.

A federal indictment of Kerik could complicate matters for Giuliani as the first presidential primaries draw near.

The ex-mayor frequently says he made a mistake in recommending Kerik to be Homeland Security chief, but that might not be enough to avoid the political damage of a drawn-out criminal case involving his one-time protege.

During a campaign stop Thursday in Dubuque, Iowa, Giuliani was asked whether he still stood by Kerik. He sidestepped that question and said the issue had to be decided by the courts.

"A lot of public comment about it is inconsistent with its getting resolved in the right way in the courts," Giuliani said.

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Associated Press writer Tom Hays contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2007, The Associated Press

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