Ex-NYPD Chief Kerik Turns Himself In

Former commissioner of the New York City Police Dept. Bernard Kerik speaks to reporters outside the Bronx Supreme Court, June 30, 2006, in New York.
AP
Former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik surrendered Friday to face federal corruption charges, in what could prove to be an ongoing embarrassment for presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani.

Kerik surrendered to the FBI in suburban White Plains, where he was fingerprinted and processed. He was scheduled to be arraigned later Friday in U.S. District Court.

Kerik, the police commissioner under then-Mayor Giuliani and a failed nominee for homeland security secretary, was indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury on conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and lying to the IRS.

If convicted, Kerik could face up to 142 years in prison and $4.75 million in penalties.

The indictment alleges Kerik made false statements to the White House and other federal officials during his failed bid to head the Homeland Security department. Those statements involved failure to disclose payments from a contractor alleged to have mob ties, according to the indictment.

Kerik was police commissioner under then-Mayor Giuliani, and the indictment could complicate matters for the Republican presidential candidate as the first primaries draw near.

Giuliani endorsed Kerik's 2004 nomination to head Homeland Security. Only days after Bush introduced Kerik as his nominee, Kerik announced he was withdrawing his name because of tax issues involving his former nanny.

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.

Prosecutors had been presenting evidence to a federal grand jury for several months.

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.

Giuliani 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.

John McCain said Friday that Kerik did an irresponsible job training police in Iraq and cited Kerik's relationship with his Republican presidential foe as a reason to doubt Giuliani's judgment.

"I don't know Mr. Kerik. I do know that I went to Baghdad shortly after the initial victory and met in Baghdad with (Ambassador Paul) Bremer and (Lt. Gen. Ricardo) Sanchez. And Kerik was there. Kerik was supposed to be there to help train the police force. He stayed two months and one day left, just up and left," McCain told reporters traveling on his campaign bus.

"That's why I never would've supported him to be the head of homeland security because of his irresponsible act when he was over in Baghdad to try and help train the police. One of the reasons why we had so much trouble with the initial training of the police was because he came, didn't do anything and then went out to the airport and left."

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.