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Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The secret wife

Bernie's secret wife, Linda Priest

Kerik kept first wife a secret

December 15, 2004

First there was "The Lost Son." Now comes the lost wife.

Investigators conducting a background check of Bernard Kerik last week as part of his confirmation hearing uncovered that the then-Secretary of Homeland Security nominee was married to a woman he has apparently kept a secret for the past 20 years.

Friends of his said they were not aware of the woman, and Kerik did not acknowledge the marriage in his best-selling autobiography, "The Lost Son: A Life in Pursuit of Justice."

Instead, he wrote about only two marriages, one to a New Jersey woman named Jacqueline, whom he married in 1983 when he was 28, and one to his current wife, Hala, whom he married in 1998.

But Kerik, who withdrew his name for consideration for the nation's top security post on Friday, was also married to the former Linda Hales in North Carolina.

Kerik and Hales, who has since remarried and changed her name to Priest, were married Aug. 10, 1978, when she was 27 and he was three weeks shy of 24, according to her lawyer, Ronnie Mitchell. They separated in 1982 and were officially divorced June 6, 1983, Mitchell told Newsday.

In Kerik's book, however, he wrote that he married Jacqueline in the winter of 1983, raising questions about whether his first and second marriages overlapped.

In New Jersey, marriage records are not open to the public, and Newsday could not ascertain yesterday the date of Bernard Kerik's marriage to Jacqueline Kerik.

In his book, though, he laid out how and when he met her.

He wrote that by December, 1981, he had left North Carolina and returned to New Jersey. A short time after he arrived back in his native state, he met a woman named "Jackie" through a woman visiting an inmate housed in the jail where Kerik worked as a guard.


When questioned yesterday, an aide to Kerik maintained that, contrary to what he wrote in his autobiography, Kerik married Jacqueline in September, 1983. The aide said Kerik also recalls that he and Linda Kerik divorced in 1981 or 1982 and afterward "they made a mutual agreement between the two of them never to talk about it."

The aide said that before Kerik was nominated to head Homeland Security, he informed White House officials about the previous marriage to Linda Hales. Why Kerik kept his marriage to her a secret otherwise remains a mystery.

A longtime, close police friend of Kerik's, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Kerik never spoke of that marriage to any of his friends. He also did not mention his marriage to Linda Hales in the scores of interviews he gave throughout his tenure as NYPD Police Commissioner. In his 361-page autobiography, he apparently refers to her only as an unnamed woman.


Attempts to reach Jacqueline Kerik, whom he divorced in 1992, were unsuccessful.

This just gets better each day. Bigamy?

Now people are asking how did Giuliani miss all the sleaze.

How did Giuliani miss Kerik's record?


December 13, 2004, 8:46 PM EST

A cluster of ethics questions, churned up by Bernard Kerik's aborted candidacy for the nation's top security post, is prompting new concern over why such issues went unexplored when Kerik was in city service.

"Nobody at that time thought that Giuliani's Department of Investigation was independent of the muscular way he ran the rest of the city," said Mark Green, who as public advocate criticized Giuliani.

Even a Green adversary seemed to agree that the administration's investigative arm had failed to track the actions of its police commissioner.

"Did his people vet him when he became corrections and police commissioner?" ex-mayor Ed Koch asked, referring to Giuliani.

One city councilman yesterday called the Kerik fiasco a perfect example of why major mayoral appointments should undergo City Council confirmation.

"When someone has to go up and face tough questions, their backgrounds are vetted ahead of time," said Councilman David Yassky (D-Brooklyn).

And Councilman Eric Gioia (D-Queens) is considering legislation to create first-time vetting requirements and cut ties between the mayor and the Department of Investigation.


In 2001, an administrative judge demanded that the Department of Investigation probe a case involving a close friend of Kerik's girlfriend, citing a "gross abuse of power" from the top and the misuse of disciplinary processes "to protect a favored employee." The probe was never done, as reported by Newsday the following year.

According to published reports, Kerik developed a friendship with a employee of a city contractor who helped pay for his 1998 wedding in possible violation of the charter. City investigators reportedly gathered testimony touching on the relationship months before Kerik was promoted to police commissioner in 2000.

And he was going to be in charge of domestic security.

posted by Steve @ 1:42:00 AM

1:42:00 AM

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