Bernie Kerik: on the pad
now how in the fuck did he get that home?
News finds Kerik in cash conflict
Got thousands, didn't report it
Daily News Exclusive
By RUSS BUETTNER
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik accepted thousands of dollars in cash and gifts without making proper public disclosures, a Daily News investigation has revealed.
Kerik failed to report the gifts on financial disclosure forms he was required to file with the city as head of the both the NYPD and, before that, the Department of Correction.
The revelations come in the wake of Kerik's stunning announcement Friday night that he was withdrawing his nomination as President Bush's secretary of homeland security.
Kerik maintained yesterday that he pulled out on his own after discovering he may have failed to pay required taxes on behalf of a nanny whose immigration status was uncertain.
But Kerik's friends came to the defense of NYPD's leader at the time of 9/11.
"It doesn't take away from Bernie's heroism. It doesn't take away from his decency," said ex-Mayor Rudy Giuliani. "He made a mistake. It cost him a job."
In a news conference outside his $1.2 million lakeside New Jersey home, Kerik insisted it was the nanny issue alone that led him to withdraw. "Based on that, and based on precedent, and really it was the most important that this was the right thing to do, I contacted the White House late [Friday] afternoon and told them I would like to withdraw my name," Kerik said.
However, The News probe calls into question his conduct while holding two of the city's most important public offices.
The probe revealed that for many years, one of Kerik's main benefactors was Lawrence Ray, the best man at Kerik's 1998 wedding, according to Ray, other sources and checks shown by Ray to The News.
Ray and another Kerik pal, restaurant owner Carmen Cabell, helped bankroll Kerik's 1998 wedding reception, contributing nearly $10,000.
Ray also gave Kerik nearly $2,000 to buy a bejeweled Tiffany badge that Kerik coveted when he was Correction commissioner.
And Ray said he gave Kerik $4,300 more to buy high-end Bellini furniture when Kerik allegedly griped that he couldn't afford to furnish a bedroom for a soon-to-be born daughter.
The city's Conflicts of Interest Board requires officials to report any gifts of $1,000 or more.
The board's definition of gifts includes cash, free travel, and wedding presents not given by relatives.
Intentionally failing to report gifts is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of $1,000. The board also can impose civil fines of up to $10,000. The News has examined Kerik's disclosure forms and there is no record of any of the gifts for the period concerned.
At the time of the gifts, Ray was working for Interstate Industrial, then a major city contractor. City ethics rules bar officials from accepting gifts worth more than $50 from anyone doing business with the city. The company hired Ray based on a recommendation from Kerik, according to a sworn deposition by Interstate's owner Frank DiTomasso. New Jersey gaming regulators said Kerik had confirmed to them that he had vouched for Ray.
In connection with that case, he was cited for contempt by a New Jersey judge, according to Newsweek magazine.
Despite his finances, Kerik's November 1998 wedding was a grand affair. It was attended by Donna Hanover, then Mayor Giuliani's wife, Deputy Mayor Joseph Lhota, and state Supreme Court Justice Leslie Crocker Snyder.
The reception was held at The Chanticler, in Millburn, N.J., one of the Garden State's premier catering facilities. Kerik and his new wife, Hala, entertained 230 guests in the facility's Empress Room.
"This thing was top shelf," said one person who attended. "Martini bar, full spread, the works."
Ray wrote a check for $1,000 in July 1998 to cover the deposit. Cabell wrote a check for $6,688 to the Chanticler on the day of the wedding. Six weeks after the wedding, Cabell wrote another $2,000 check to the Chanticler.
"Bernie was a close friend of myself and Larry's that needed help," Cabell told The News. "I helped him in the planning, details and cost of the wedding."
Kerik still couldn't pay the remaining balance, and the Chanticler threatened to sue, Ray and Cabell said. Ray's attorney's handled correspondence with the Chanticler, until Ray and Cabell covered the remaining balance.
In total, Ray and Cabell showed The News checks to the value of $18,400.
At the time, Ray's own finances were deteriorating.
A week after Kerik's daughter was born, Ray and 18 other men were indicted in a $40 million, mob-run, pump-and-dump stock swindle. Kerik repeatedly spoke to Ray's criminal defense attorney before the indictment, but he dropped his longtime benefactor when the case became public.
"We never saw Ray around Corrections again," said the headquarters source.
On Dec. 2, The News asked Kerik to discuss issues raised by the paper's six-month investigation. Kerik never responded.
Oh, but this gets better.
Links to company in mobster probe
By RUSS BUETTNER
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
From left, Lawrence Ray, Bernard Kerik, Frank DiTomasso and wife, Lisa, at Ray's 40th birthday party in 1999.
When he headed the city's jails, Bernard Kerik became deeply entangled with a New Jersey construction company long under fire for its alleged mob ties, a Daily News investigation found.
Kerik's troubling connection to the company, Interstate Industrial, began in the fall of 1998, when the company held major city contracts, including one to cover the massive Fresh Kills landfill.
Kerik recommended his close friend, Lawrence Ray, for a job helping Interstate cope with mob-leery regulators here and in Atlantic City.
Based solely on Kerik calling Ray "a top-shelf guy," the New Jersey company hired Ray at $100,000 a year, according to a sworn deposition that Interstate owner, Frank DiTomasso, gave to city investigators in June 2000.
Shortly after hiring Ray, Interstate hired Kerik's brother, Don, to run a dirt and stone transfer station on Staten Island, DiTomasso told investigators.
The city Conflicts of Interest Board forbids city officials from using their offices to help relatives or those with whom they have financial relationships.
At the time, Ray and another Kerik pal had just finished bankrolling Kerik's wedding reception. The News requested an interview with Kerik on Dec. 2 to discuss Ray, Interstate and other issues. He never responded.
Charges that Interstate, based in Clifton, N.J., is controlled by organized crime resurfaced last month when a mob turncoat, Anthony Rotondo, testified in Manhattan Federal Courtthat Interstate paid protection money to the Gambino crime family.
Kerik forged his own relationship with DiTomasso, inviting him to his private Christmas party at Correction Department headquarters.
"When I would be in the city I would call him, see if he was in, stop by," DiTomasso told city investigators. "I liked Bernie. I thought he was a pretty interesting guy. Still do."
Interstate's troubles eventually grew, in part because it had hired Kerik's friend.
In 1996, Ray began talking to the FBI about a $40 million, mob-run pump-and-dump stock fraud scheme that a childhood friend dragged him into, according to papers he filed in Brooklyn Federal Court. He cooperated for three years before prosecutors told him, in 1999, that he was a target, the records show.
Ray and 18 others were indicted on March 2, 2000, in Brooklyn federal court. Ray's alleged role - described in two sentences of an 80-page indictment - was conspiring to obtain an insurance bond, which never came through, for a mob front company. Ray had worked in the bond field for years.
DiTomasso later told city investigators that he hadn't been warned of Ray's legal problems: "That's why when the indictment came down it was a blow."
It was no surprise to Kerik.
Kerik had five conversations with Ray's criminal defense attorney in 1999 and 2000 that were billed as a cost of Ray's defense, according to itemized bills filed by the attorney in the Somerset County, N.J., courthouse.
Ray ran out of money and burned through several attorneys before pleading guilty to a felony conspiracy charge. He was sentenced to nine months of house arrest and five years of probation.
The indictment led the city to suspend $85 million in Interstate contracts.
But none of the investigations ever touched Kerik.
Three months after DiTomasso told city investigators about his interactions with Kerik and Ray and the hiring of Kerik's brother, Kerik was named the city's 40th police commissioner.
After being ass-stomped by Newsday on this, they now suddenly dig up all kinds of shady shit on this guy. Halliburton my ass, they're not the mafia. Kerik is linked to mob associates.
And still more...
Life catches up to Bernie
A few years back, when he was police commissioner, I came away from a lunch with Bernie Kerik shaking my head. The table chatter was pleasant, but what stood out was Kerik's enthusiastic description of his lifestyle. He was sleeping only a few hours a night, often got home to his wife and baby after midnight, yet hardly ever missed a workout in the gym.
"He can't keep that up," I said to myself.
Indeed he couldn't, and the lunch immediately flashed through my mind when I heard that Kerik had withdrawn his nomination to be the next head of Homeland Security.
Bernie Kerik's messy personal life finally caught up with him. It was only a matter of time.
His statement that he had a nanny problem is no doubt true, but hardly the whole truth. Kerik was a walking contradiction, a terrific head of the NYPD but also someone who lived too fast and too close to the edge. Nobody can keep that up, especially in the public eye.
Hmmm, talking about his dick, no? This isn't about workaholism, but philandering. Giuliani played that game for a while. And given rumors of his wife's dope use, I wouldn't be surprised if that errand about Judith Regan's phone had a lot to do with keeping some things under the rug more than a book.
And now the Daily News editorial page, which was plugging the guy a week ago, having been in Giuliani's pocket for years, tosses him aside like garbage.
Rudy and Bernie go down in flames
They - Rudy Giuliani and Bernard Kerik - should have known better. Promoting Kerik to serve in President Bush's cabinet as America's top anti-terror official was, in the end, an act of monumental hubris. For Kerik's tough-cop image concealed a tendency, politely speaking, to cut corners.
Kerik and his patron Giuliani are now selling the notion that Bernie didn't get the details right when he hired an illegal alien as a nanny and paid her off the books. These things happen when you have bigger things on your mind - like showing the Iraqis how to start a police force - they'd like you to believe as they try to close the books on an unfortunate episode. It is not going to be that easy.
While the nannygate facts are still emerging, Kerik's reputation has been unraveling since he reached to become homeland security secretary. A Daily News probe published today finds, most damningly, that as correction commissioner, Kerik leaned on friends for thousands of dollars in gifts that he never reported, as required by law. Kerik's pals, including a businessman who later pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge, told reporter Russ Buettner of subsidizing Kerik's lavish 1998 wedding, buying top-of-the-line furniture for Kerik's baby daughter's room and providing Kerik with a bejeweled, ceremonial badge from Tiffany's.
When a correction officer or cop grabs like that, they call it being on the pad. It's a short trip off the force, or behind bars.
Then there was the disclosure that Kerik had filed for personal bankruptcy in 1987; and the Newsweek report that an arrest warrant was issued for Kerik when he failed to pay a $5,000 bill in 1998; and the $6 million in profit he earned selling stock in a company that sold stun guns to the Department of Homeland Security; and the use of city detectives to track down his book editor's lost cell phone; and the use of other cops to gather info for his autobiography, a stunt for which Kerik was fined $2,500 by the Conflicts of Interest Board.
And so on, all the way up to and including hiring an illegal alien and stiffing the government for taxes. That offense alone disqualified Kerik for a cabinet post, particularly the one responsible for enforcing the immigration laws. His nomination sparked hope that a tough-guy cop would conquer the homeland security bureaucracy and make it more sensitive to the city's needs. Bush now moves on, burned and wiser about the value of the Rudy Giuliani stamp of approval.
posted by Steve @ 9:42:00 AM