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Ex-NYC Top Cop Kerik Takes Plea Deal

Former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik pleaded guilty Thursday to lying to the White House and tax crimes in a deal that could send him to prison for about 2½ years.

Kerik, who was police commissioner when New York was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, won glowing reviews for his leadership. He eventually was nominated for the Homeland Security post in 2004 but withdrew as corruption allegations mounted. The lies to the White House occurred during that vetting process.

"Guilty," he said eight times in a firm voice as he appeared in the suburban courtroom.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara issued a statement calling Thursday "a sad day," but added, "No one is above the law."

The plea agreement included the prosecution's suggestion that the crimes are punishable by 27 to 33 months in prison. It was designed to resolve three pending federal criminal trials. The first had been scheduled to start Monday.

Robinson warned Kerik that the maximum sentence for the counts to which he was pleading was 61 years in prison; the judge said he was not bound by the terms of the plea agreement.

Kerik said he understood and told the judge he was giving up his right to appeal. He also agreed to pay about $188,000 in restitution.

Kerik denied to the White House that he'd had any financial dealings with firms trying to do business with the city. The tax charges included hiding income from his returns.

In the agreement, he promised to file amended tax returns for 1999 through 2003, and 2005.

Sentencing was set for Feb. 18.

Kerik remains in custody, but his lawyer, Michael Bachner, said he would ask to change the bail conditions. The judge said he would consider that seriously.

"You've had a very full life," Robinson told Kerik. "There is much good in that full life, I believe."

Kerik, 54, originally pleaded not guilty. He pledged to fight the charges when he was indicted two years ago and he appeared determined until last month, when he was suddenly jailed for sharing secret pretrial information.

Kerik spent 10 days in the jail's psychiatric unit because of stress.

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