Former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik sentenced to four years in prison

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

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Fmr. NYC Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik. (2008)
Image: Bernard Kerik.

Former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik was sentenced to four years in prison and three years of supervised release on Thursday after pleading guilty to eight felony charges. Among these were tax fraud and lying to Bush administration officials during his unsuccessful nomination for US Secretary of Homeland Security in 2004.

This sentence is contrary to a plea agreement made in November between Kerik's legal counsel and the prosecution. Per this accord, federal attorneys recommended a sentence of no longer than 33 months in prison, opposed to the 48 months that US District Judge Stephen Robinson (who was not bound to this agreement) chose to hand down instead.

"I think it's fair to say that with great power comes great responsibility and great consequences," Judge Robinson said upon sentencing. "I think the damage caused by Mr. Kerik is in some ways immeasurable."

"Today's sentencing of Bernard Kerik is one of the most powerful recent reminders that no one in this country is above the law," added US Attorney Preet Bharara.

Kerik, who was accompanied by his wife and three children, briefly addressed the court: "I make no excuses. I take full responsibility for the grave mistakes I've made. Believe me when I say I have learned from this and I have become and will continue to become a better person."

"I know I must be punished," he went on to say. "I only ask that you allow me to return to my wife and two little girls as soon as possible."

According to the New York City Department of Corrections, Kerik is slated to begin serving his sentence on May 17. Although the prosecution made clear their desire for Kerik to be imprisoned immediately, Judge Robinson allowed him to surrender himself later in the day so that he would have sufficient time to "get his affairs in order." Kerik has been awaiting sentencing under house arrest at his home in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey since November when said plea agreement was reached.

Kerik, a military veteran and undercover detective, was a trusted advisor to former US Attorney and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, for whom he worked for as a bodyguard and a driver.

Kerik later served as both corrections and police commissioner. His distinguished actions following the 2001 September 11th Attacks transformed him into a respected national figure. This earned him the praise of then-president George W. Bush, who in turn nominated him for the lead Homeland Security post. It was during the vetting process that Kerik's suspected ties to organized crime came out. This marked the beginning of his long fall from grace.

Outside the courthouse, Kerik gave a statement to the media and general public before being driven home: "I'd like to apologize to the American people for the mistakes I have made and for which I have just accepted responsibility. As history is written, I can only hope that I will be judged for the 30 years of service I have given to this country and the City of New York. It has not and will not diminish my love for this country."

Kerik's lawyer, when asked by The New York Times if they planned to appeal this sentence, simply replied, "No comment."


Sources

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