Saturday, July 01, 2006

Ex-Homeland nominee and Former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik pleads guilty to corruption

Ex-Homeland nominee pleads guilty to corruption

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, whose Homeland Security nomination was withdrawn because of ethics questions, pleaded guilty on Friday to misdemeanor charges of accepting gifts while serving as a top city official.

Kerik was convicted of two charges in a deal that allowed him to avoid prison time. He acknowledged accepting $165,000 worth of renovations on his Bronx apartment while he was commissioner of New York's corrections department and failing to report a loan from a real estate developer as required by city law.

Kerik was ordered to pay $221,000 in fines, Bronx Supreme Court officials said. He waived his right to appeal the convictions.

Officials began an investigation into Kerik's dealings in December 2004 in connection with allegations he helped Interstate Industrial Corp., a New Jersey construction company, seek business with the city in exchange for renovation work to his apartment.

In his plea, Kerik admitted speaking with city officials about the company but did not acknowledge a link between the renovations and his support of the company.

Kerik, who as police commissioner led the New York Police Department's response to the September 11 attacks, previously denied any wrongdoing.

"We had an investigation, we looked into allegations and the charges that were brought were charges we believed we could sustain proof beyond a reasonable doubt," said Bronx District Attorney spokesman Steven Reed.

President George W. Bush nominated Kerik in 2004 for Homeland Security chief but Kerik withdrew after admitting he had failed to pay taxes for a family nanny alleged to be in the country illegally.

Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, a close friend of Kerik's, said in a statement on Friday the guilty pleas did not diminish Kerik's accomplishments.

"This should be evaluated in light of his service to the United States of America and the city of New York," Giuliani said.