NEW YORK – More than 18 months after his Homeland Security nomination sank over ethics questions, former police commissioner Bernard Kerik pleaded guilty Friday to accepting tens of thousands of dollars in gifts while he was a top city official.
Kerik pleaded guilty to a pair of misdemeanors in state Supreme Court in the Bronx in a deal that spared him any jail time. Kerik was instead ordered to pay a total of $221,000 in fines at the 10-minute hearing.
Kerik acknowledged accepting $165,000 worth of renovations on his Bronx apartment from a company attempting to do business with the city — a New Jersey construction firm with alleged links to the mob. And he admitted failing to report a loan as required by city law.
The plea bargain allows Kerik to continue his new career as a security consultant in the Middle East.
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 that he paid every bill he received for the job — about $30,000 — and that he never intervened for Interstate. The home, bought in 1999 for $170,000, sold in 2002 for $460,000 after real estate advertisements described it as a "gem" adorned with marble and granite.
Kerik first drew national attention while leading the New York Police Department's response to the Sept. 11 terror attacks. By late 2004, President Bush wanted him for homeland security chief, but he 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 civil complaint also detailed Kerik's cozy relationship with an Interstate official. In 1999, he sent a series of 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 of the tab. Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, a close friend of Kerik, also testified.