06/29/2006

Former New York police chief close to plea deal in corruption case

By TOM HAYS
Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK- Former police commissioner Bernard Kerik, whose Homeland Security nomination sank over ethics questions, is close to a deal that would let him escape criminal charges in a bribery investigation, his attorney said Thursday.

Under the tentative agreement with prosecutors, Kerik will appear in court on Friday and admit to administrative violations, attorney Joseph Tacopina said.

Neither Tacopina nor Bronx district attorney spokesman Steven Reed would discuss details of the proposed agreement.

Reports published Thursday said Kerik would admit that, while serving as the city's correction commissioner, he violated city codes by accepting a gift - $200,000 in renovations to his apartment - from a New Jersey construction company with alleged links to the mob. The penalty would be a large fine.

Prosecutors had considered bringing felony bribery charges against Kerik based on allegations that in exchange for the renovations he helped the company, Interstate Industrial Corp., seek business with the city.

Through his attorney, Kerik had previously denied any wrongdoing, saying he paid every bill he received for the job - about $30,000 - and that he never intervened for Interstate.

Kerik first drew national attention while leading the New York Police Department's response to the Sept. 11 terror attacks. By late 2004, President George W. Bush wanted him for Homeland Security chief, but Kerik withdrew after acknowledging he had not paid all taxes for a family nanny-housekeeper and that the woman may have been in the country illegally.

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