Ex-NYC police commissioner starts 4-year prison term

Associated Press / May 18, 2010

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WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — Former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik, proclaimed a hero after the 2001 World Trade Center attacks, reported to federal prison yesterday to begin a four-year sentence for tax fraud, lying to the White House, and other felonies.

Kerik, 54, reported to Cumberland Federal Correctional Institution in Maryland at about 1:45 p.m., 15 minutes ahead of his deadline, a Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman said.

In a statement dated Sunday on his website, Kerik said he had been wronged, and could not remain silent “in the face of what I believe has been a grave injustice.’’ He said he pleaded guilty because he was “financially helpless’’ and could have spent a year behind bars just awaiting trial.

He said he hoped the injustice would be remedied on appeal.

Kerik’s resolve as he stood with his mentor, then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, after the 9/11 attacks won him fame. His career peaked three years later when he was nominated to lead the Department of Homeland Security.

As he was being vetted, however, questions arose about his finances and associations, and he bowed out. He later admitted in court that he had lied when he denied having any financial dealings with anyone doing business with New York City.

Kerik pleaded guilty to eight felonies. During sentencing, Judge Stephen Robinson said Kerik had used 9/11 “for personal gain and aggrandizement.’’ The judge went beyond sentencing guidelines, which suggested two to three years in prison, because of “the almost operatic proportions of this case.’’

Kerik apologized and said he hoped history would take into account the “30 years of service I’ve given to the country and the city of New York.’’