A federal grand jury has voted to indict former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik on charges stemming from the acceptance of free rent and apartment renovations, tax evasion and lying on his application for the job as head of the Department of Homeland Security, two federal sources and a source involved in the defense told ABC News.
As news of the indictment spread, police in suburban White Plains, N.Y., prepared for an expected onslaught of media by setting up police barricades in front of the courthouse and a parking area for television trucks directly across from it, police officials said. And several of Kerik's closest supporters planned to spend the evening with their friend before he turned himself into the government, sources said.
The indictment caps a wide-ranging federal probe into Kerik's affairs that has spanned about a year. While it was not immediately clear what the specific charges were, the government's case as it has been presented to the grand jury has multiple components that would be reflected in a multiple count indictment.
One component stems from $165,000 worth of renovations to an apartment he owned in an upscale section of the Bronx from a contractor who had sought business with New York City.
He was convicted on charges stemming from those same renovations in a state of New York case brought by a prosecutor in the Bronx.
Another component of the case, according to federal sources and sources involved in the defense, stems from a second apartment Kerik used on East 79th Street in Manhattan's posh Upper East Side. In that instance, the rent -- for approximately two years -- was paid by a third party, Steve Witkoff, a commercial real estate developer. Witkoff is in no way implicated in any wrongdoing.
A third part of the case stems from the failure to pay taxes on imputed income stemming from the value of the rent and the renovations -- an amount estimated to be in excess of $300,000. According to sources familiar with the case, at least part of that failure to pay taxes component is linked to Kerik's 2000 federal tax return .
The government is also expected to charge that Kerik lied on a mortgage application and on his application for the job as head of the Department of Homeland Security.
Kerik's reputation took on heroic proportions in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Side by side with "America's Mayor" Rudolph Giuliani, Kerik was seen as part of the glue that held the city together and soon, owing to the support of Giuliani and a bond he had developed with President George Bush, Kerik was nominated to be "America's Police Commissioner" -- the head of the Department of Homeland Security.
The former New York City mayor told ABC News' Jake Tapper in an exclusive interview today that Kerik's indictment does not sully his mayoral record.
"You have to judge that in the overall context, in everything that I did, and how many right decisions did I make and how many wrong decisions did I make," he said. "And the balance is very much in favor of -- I must have been making the right decisions if the city of New York turned around; if crime went down by 60 percent, if homicide went down by 70 percent."
Kerik's fall from grace began on Dec. 3, 2004, the same day that the president announced his appointment.