Bernard Kerik and the Arrogance of Power

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    AP
    Bernard Kerik is accused of perjury, corruption and tax evasion.

    Bernard Kerik’s ambition, if the charges are proved true, has been exceeded only by his arrogance. 

    The man who once served as Rudy Giuliani’s chauffeur and later became City Corrections Department Commissioner and NYPD Commissioner stands accused now of trying to taint the jury pool in his corruption trial on charges of tax fraud and conspiracy. 

    In other words, he’s accused of trying to fix the jury even before it's chosen.  

    Federal Judge Stephen Robinson was furious. He saw what Kerik did as outrageous, threw him in jail and declared, "Mr. Kerik has a toxic combination of self-minded focus and arrogance that leads him to believe that the ends justify the means, that rules that apply to all don’t apply to him in the same way, that rulings of the court are an inconvenience." 
                
    Specifically, Kerik’s supporters are charged with posting on the web distorted information meant to corrupt the jury pool. In June, a man hired by Kerik was accused of speaking with witnesses. The judge warned Kerik not to let this happen again.
                   
    The head of Kerik’s legal defense fund, Anthony Modafferi, the judge said, had posted anti-prosecution diatribes on the Internet despite the court’s warnings to Kerik.
                         
    Being thrown into jail is the low point in a career of ups and downs that saw Kerik rise to the post of police commissioner under former Mayor Giuliani.

    Born in Newark, N.J., Kerik served in the military police in Korea and, later, as warden of the Passaic County Jail. He joined the NYPD in 1986. Giuliani appointed him Correction Commissioner in 1998 and, two years later, he made him commissioner of the police department.          

    Kerik was hailed as a hero when he appeared at Giuliani’s side on 9/11, but things started to unravel after President George W. Bush nominated him for Secretary of Homeland Security in 2004. He admitted hiring an undocumented worker as a nanny and withdrew his nomination. Federal prosecutors charged that a mob-connected construction company did renovations on his home, hoping that Kerik would help it get a city license. He is charged, too, with failing to report more than $500,000 in income while he was in charge of the city's correction and police departments.

    Perhaps more shocking than the latest charges against Kerik are what Giuliani has said about him. Even as charges were swirling around his former police commissioner, Giuliani in 2007 praised Kerik for having achieved a 60 percent reduction in crime and added, "Sure, there were issues, but if I have the same degree of success and failure as president of the United States, this country will be in great shape."

    If these are his standards, maybe it's fortunate, then, that Rudy’s dreams of the presidency didn’t get off the ground. If he had been elected president, we can only guess at the caliber of his Cabinet appointments. Perhaps the latest Kerik story may quiet down the Rudy-for-Governor claque. Certainly, if the charges prove true, it’s another example of the arrogance of power.