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.
"We're optimistic this will be resolved by the end of the week," Tacopina said.
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 NYPD's response to the Sept. 11 terror attacks. By late 2004, President 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.
More problems surfaced last year when the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement filed court papers seeking to revoke Interstate Industrial's license to work on casinos in Atlantic City. The papers cited testimony by mob turncoats that owners Frank and Peter DiTommaso were associates of the Gambino organized crime family. The DiTommaso brothers deny the allegations.
The civil complaint also detailed a cozy relationship between Kerik and an Interstate official. In 1999, he sent e-mails to the official that "indicated his lack of sufficient funds to both purchase and renovate his new Bronx apartment," and "indicated he would provide information to Frank DiTommaso regarding New York City contracts," the papers said.
In recent months, a grand jury in the Bronx has heard conflicting testimony from the DiTommaso brothers — who denied paying for the renovations — and from a contractor who said they picked up most the tab. Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, a close friend of Kerik, also testified.