Home for the Holidays: Kerik Gets Sprung from Jail

Must pay $1.475 million bond WNBC's Jonathan Dienst Reports

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    AP
    Bernard Kerik leaves court in White Plains, en route for home.

    Disgraced former police commissioner Bernard Kerik is going home.

    Locked behind bars since October 20th, a federal judge Tuesday agreed to restore Kerik's bail -- but with stricter conditions.

    Kerik, who pleaded guilty to eight felonies last week,  must wear an electronic monitoring bracelet on his ankle and only leave his Franklin Lakes, New Jersey home on rare occasions.

    Kerik Goes Home

    [NY] Kerik Goes Home
    Bernard Kerik gets his bail reinstated and is allowed to leave court in White Plains and head home.

    Kerik left the courthouse late this afternoon, en route for home.  Officials said he is already wearing the ankle bracelet.

    Judge Stephen Robinson also raised the bail -- adding a $975,000 bond on Kerik's home to his original half million dollars bail.  So the total bail package reaches $1.475 million bond.

    Kerik is allowed pre-approved meetings with his lawyers and a certified public account -- and could possibly attend weekly religious services -- all wearing the ankle bracelet. But the judge shot down his request to take his kids to school.

    Kerik, 54, admitted to cheating on his taxes, lying about accepting apartment renovations from a construction firm accused of having mob ties and omitting that information from his 2004 application to become the nation's homeland security director.

    The judge told Kerik that by requesting bail he was delaying the inevitable." 

    "It is hard for me to see how this can result in a non-incarceration sentence," said Robinson.

    The judge warned Kerik not to violate any conditions of bail. He explained how he sent another defendant to jail when he took three steps outside to get his newspaper. "If in doubt, don't do it," the judge said.

    Hailed as a hero for leading the NYPD during the 9/11 attacks, Kerik now faces the prospect of becoming the first New York city police commissioner ever imprisoned on federal crimes.

    His fall from grace exploded into view days after Bush nominated him for the Homeland Security post. Kerik abruptly withdrew his name just a week later blaming immigration and tax problems over the hiring of a household nanny.  Soon more serious problems surfaced, stemming from $255,000 worth of renovations to his Riverdale, Bronx apartment allegedly supplied by a construction firm seeking more business with the city.

    Those allegations led to Kerik pleading guilty in Bronx Supreme Court to two misdemeanor charges for accepting gifts from the construction firm and lobbying on its behalf.  He avoided a felony conviction and prison time with that 2006 plea but had to pay $221,000 in fines.

    However federal authorities expanded on the original Bronx case -- slapping Kerik in November 2007 with a 15 count indictment that included allegations that he cheated on his taxes, lied on his loan application for the Riverdale apartment and told White House officials that he had no financial entanglements with firms seeking business with the city.

    Kerik's mounting legal problems clouded the political fortunes of other elected officials, especially that of his mentor, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

    The two had met when Kerik volunteered to chauffeur Giuliani and provide security during his first unsuccessful race for mayor.  Once elected in 1993, Giuliani promoted Kerik, a high school dropout, to the highest levels of city government.

    The mayor eventually tapped his former bodyguard as the city's 40th police commissioner in 2001 despite his attaining only the lowest rank for a detective and failing to earn a college degree -- a requirement for officers above the rank of sergeant. During his failed presidential bid in 2008, Giuliani had to admit that he erred in recommending Kerik to President Bush.

    Kerik's dealings with former Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro also caused her embarrassment during her failed bid for New York State Attorney General in 2006. During that campaign, she was under criminal investigation for allegedly conspiring with Kerik, then a private eye, to secretly tape record her husband in an attempt to confirm whether he was having an affair with another woman. Pirro was never charged in that investigation and Kerik's plea today clears him in the matter, according to court documents released Thursday.

    Kerik had steadfastly maintained his innocence in the federal case. He recently ran afoul of Judge Robinson, who revoked his $500,000 bail on October 20th for allegedly leaking confidential case information in an attempt to taint the jury pool. Behind bars in the Westchester County Jail for two days, he agreed to be transferred to the facility's psychiatric unit to deal with symptoms of stress. After 10 days, jail officials gave him a clean bill of mental health.

     

    Jonathan Dienst WNBC

    WNBC Jonathan DIenst