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Friday, June 30, 2006

Run, Rudy Run

Bebeto Matthews/Associated Press
Former Police Commissioner Bernard B. Kerik
in September 2003.

As Ex-Police Commissioner Goes to Court, Questions Persist About Background Check

Published: June 30, 2006

If Bernard B. Kerik admits today, as expected, that he failed to report a gift that investigators say came from a city contractor with ties to organized crime, it will likely settle a criminal inquiry that has trailed the former police commissioner.

But the legal proceeding in State Supreme Court in the Bronx is likely to leave one major question unanswered:

Did city investigators, who knew of Mr. Kerik's relationship with the contractor, ever raise it as an issue in 2000 when they were asked to check his background?

At today's proceeding, Mr. Kerik is expected to acknowledge that while serving as correction commissioner, he paid only a fraction of the cost of a $200,000 renovation to his Bronx apartment that was started in 1999 by associates of the contractor, Interstate Industrial.

While the renovation has come to light only recently, the city's Department of Investigation had long known of Mr. Kerik's relationship with Interstate.

City records show that two months before he was made police commissioner by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, city investigators knew that Mr. Kerik was friendly with the owner of Interstate, a New Jersey construction company that was seeking a license from the city. And investigators knew the company had recently hired both Mr. Kerik's brother and the friend who was best man at his wedding.

Mr. Giuliani has said that none of this information was brought to his attention before he made his decision to appoint Mr. Kerik.

Most of the information did not surface until 18 months ago, when Mr. Kerik's nomination as Homeland Security secretary unraveled in a swirl of questions. At the time, city investigators said they would review the way Mr. Kerik's background check was conducted when Mr. Giuliani promoted him.

After the court proceeding today, the city's investigations commissioner, Rose Gill Hearn, is scheduled to join the Bronx district attorney, Robert T. Johnson, at a news conference, where they may well address some of the remaining questions.

Mr. Kerik plans to plead to two misdemeanor charges, and is expected to admit failing to report accepting the renovation, a person with information on the agreement said yesterday.

He is also expected to admit failing to report a $29,000 loan from a friend, a real estate developer, that he used as the down payment on the apartment, the person said.

The Bronx grand jury that investigated the matter originally reviewed possible felony bribery and corruption charges.

Under the arrangement, Mr. Kerik would not serve any time in jail and would keep his private investigator's license and his pistol license.

Nonetheless, the criminal inquiry has been a considerable setback to Mr. Kerik, a former police detective who rose quickly in city government under Mr. Giuliani. His service in the police post, during which he directed the city's response to the World Trade Center attacks, was the basis for President Bush's decision to nominate him for the Homeland Security job in 2004.

Mr. Kerik quickly withdrew from consideration for the federal job, citing possible tax and immigration problems involving his family's nanny. His withdrawal was followed by a stream of accusations about personal, financial and ethical improprieties, as well as disclosures about his relationship with one of the owners of Interstate, Frank DiTommaso.

Did Giuliani know about his corrupt police commissioner?

posted by Steve @ 12:36:00 AM

12:36:00 AM

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