11/03/2009

Ex-NYPD top cop released from jail psych unit

Associated Press

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — Former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik is not in need of psychiatric care and has been discharged from the mental-care unit at the jail where he's awaiting trial, a top jail doctor said Monday.

Kerik "poses no risk to himself or others due to any psychiatric illness," Dr. Robert Mahler said in a letter to the federal judge handling Kerik's corruption case.

Mahler said the 54-year-old Kerik was in the Mental Health Forensic Unit of the Westchester County Jail for 10 days voluntarily but was discharged Monday. He remains behind bars.

Mahler, the jail's medical psychiatric director, said there were "no significant findings that would warrant ongoing admission" to the psychiatric unit.

Kerik, who wore a suit and tie in the White Plains courthouse, sat quietly at the defense table.

He is scheduled to go on trial Nov. 9 for allegedly accepting co-op renovations in exchange for recommending a company that sought city business. He has pleaded not guilty.

Judge Stephen Robinson had expressed concern in court on Friday while discussing a memo he received from Mahler and a phone conversation between them.

The judge said the doctor told him Kerik was displaying behavior that put him "at risk." The judge also said Mahler felt there was more behind Kerik's problem than just the normal stress of incarceration.

Defense attorney Barry Berke said Friday that Kerik was not taking any medication.

In Mahler's Monday letter, he said Kerik was admitted to the psychiatric unit "for observational purposes and psychiatric assessment in the context of psychosocial stressors." No details were given.

Mahler had Kerik's permission to send his letter to the judge. The judge read much of it in court and ordered it made public.

The judge said the letter "settles open questions" about Kerik's health. He scheduled another pretrial hearing for Thursday, but it appears that session will be about other issues, including whether Kerik and his lawyers have conflicts of interest.

Berke said outside the courtroom that the discussion showed that Kerik's health was "an absolute non-issue."

Kerik, who was police commissioner when New York was attacked on 9/11, won glowing reviews for his leadership. He eventually was nominated for U.S. Homeland Security chief but withdrew as corruption allegations mounted.

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