11/05/2009

Former N.Y. top cop to enter guilty plea

By Jim Fitzgerald
Associated Press

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — Just days before starting a triathlon of trials, former New York City police Commissioner Bernard Kerik appears to be opting for a shortcut.

A person familiar with the case said Wednesday that Kerik, who won praise nationwide for his steadiness after the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York, planned to enter a guilty plea Thursday that would resolve three pending federal criminal trials.

The plea deal could send Kerik, who nearly became Homeland Security chief, to prison for about 2 1/2 years, the person told The Associated Press.

The person wasn't authorized to discuss the plea negotiations publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Kerik's attorney Michael Bachner said he could not confirm or deny a plea agreement.

Kerik, 54, originally pleaded not guilty. He pledged to fight the charges when he was indicted two years ago and he appeared determined until last month, when he was suddenly jailed for sharing secret pretrial information.

Kerik spent 10 days in the jail's psychiatric unit because of stress.

In the first trial, which had been scheduled to begin Monday in White Plains, Kerik was accused of accepting renovations to his co-op apartment in exchange for recommending a company that was looking to do business with New York City.

Kerik also faced a second trial in White Plains on various tax charges. The third case, in Washington, accused him of lying to the White House during his Homeland Security vetting.

The case was an embarrassment to Kerik's mentor, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who was running for president when Kerik was charged. Giuliani, a Republican, had named Kerik police commissioner, had gone into private business with him and had pushed President George W. Bush to nominate him to run the Department of Homeland Security.

Bush nominated Kerik in December 2004. Kerik withdrew his name a week later, citing immigration and tax issues over a former nanny.

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