Just In: Ex-NYPD Boss Kerik Gets 4 Years In Prison


kerikFormer New York City police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, who has been free for months since pleading guilty to eight felonies, is heading back behind bars after being sentenced to four years in federal prison today.

Kerik, who was hailed as a hero alongside former Mayor Rudy Giuliani after the Sept. 11 terror attacks and nearly became chief of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, admitted in November that he lied to the White House, filed false taxes and committed other crimes.

Kerik spoke briefly during today’s sentencing from White Plains, telling the judge he makes no excuses and takes full responsibility.

“I know I must be punished. Please allow me to return to my wife and two little girls as soon as possible to start a new path.”

Federal Judge Stephen Robinson told Kerik in November that a prison term was “a mortal lock.” But today’s ruling was nowhere near the theoretical maximum sentence of 61 years, but more than the 27 to 33 months expected as part of the plea.

The prosecution and defense had agreed in November that federal guidelines indicate Kerik’s sentence should be between 27 and 33 months. Robinson told Kerik today he was “seriously considering going above the guideline of 33 months.” In the end, he did just that.

Kerik, 54, had already been ordered to pay $188,000 in restitution and to pay past-due taxes and penalties on six years of tax returns.

Robinson said he would take into account his public service and other accomplishments.

“You’ve had a very full life,” the judge told Kerik. “There is much good in that full life, I believe.”

Kerik spent three weeks in the Westchester County before pleading guilty in November. While there, he was voluntarily admitted to the psychiatric ward for observation because of stress.

Doctors concluded he did not need mental care.

After admitting his crimes, Kerik was freed pending sentencing. He had to post a $1.5 million bond, wear an electronic monitor and generally stay inside his home in Franklin Lakes, N.J.

In presentencing memos to the judge, the defense and prosecution painted sharply different portraits of Kerik.

The defense spoke of his bleak upbringing, his steely leadership after the terror attacks, his remorse and the debt he has incurred to defend himself. It supplied letters of support from his son, fellow police officers, a priest and a man who lost two sons on Sept. 11.

There was no letter from Giuliani.

The prosecution memo said Kerik had “shamelessly exploited” the terror attack, had shamed his gold shield and might flee if he weren’t sent to prison right away.

“It’s just the most dramatic fall from the pinnacle of power,” said Ben Gershman of Pace Law School. “It’s just kind of breathtaking how quickly and how far this man fell.”

Kerik was Giuliani’s police commissioner when New York City was attacked, and he was praised worldwide for his leadership. At Giuliani’s urging, he was nominated to the top Homeland Security post in 2004. It was the peak of his fast-rising career — as corruption allegations began to mount.

Kerik said in court that while being vetted for that position, he falsely denied that he had any financial dealings with anyone doing business with New York City. He said he also lied when he claimed he had specifically refused payments that were offered.

In truth, he said, he had accepted renovations of his Bronx apartment from a company seeking city work.

Those apartment renovations were the focus of the original corruption charge, which alleged that Kerik accepted the renovations in exchange for vouching for the company. Kerik did not admit that.

{WCBS-TV/Noam Amdurski-Matzav.com Newscenter}