"Bernie Kerik is one of the most accomplished and effective leaders of law enforcement in America. In his career, he has served as an enlisted military police officer in Korea, a jail warden in New Jersey, a beat cop in Manhattan, New York City corrections commissioner, and as New York's 40th police commissioner -- an office once held by Teddy Roosevelt. In every position, he has demonstrated a deep commitment to justice, a heart for the innocent, and a record of great success," President Bush said.
But by late that same evening, a swirl of allegations of misconduct began to surface. They included the employment of an undocumented immigrant as a nanny and the acceptance of what amounted to large gratuities, according to ABC News accounts at the time and other published reports. Soon Kerik was the subject of a criminal investigation by a New York prosecutor. And within about 18 months after his nomination for the job as head of Homeland Security, on June 30, 2006, Kerik pleaded guilty to accepting more than $165,000 in gifts while a city official and failing to report the money as required. He paid more than $200,000 in fines and was spared any jail time.
Kerik, according to sources involved in preparing his defense, had expected his indictment, and since Wednesday night, his associates have been attempting to raise money for a legal defense fund.
"The Bernard Kerik Legal Defense Trust has been established to allow Mr. Kerik's friends and supporters to assist him in defending himself against possible charges that may be brought against him by the United States Attorney's Office in the Southern District of New York," an e-mail sent by the defense fund stated.
The indictment is the latest twist in the tale that began when the child of a prostitute rose to police commissioner of New York City through the edict of Rudy Giuliani, then achieved heroic proportions in the shadow of the collapsing World Trade Center, was gifted a diamond-encrusted chief's badge by a supporter, awarded millions of dollars in stun gun stock options by business clients and given the proffer of a presidential appointment by President Bush to head the Department of Homeland Security.
The early chapters were well-documented by Kerik in his autobiographical account "The Lost Son." The final chapters have yet to be written.
They will very likely include a struggle to pay legal bills, as the defense fund e-mail suggests. They also could result in the sale of his multi-million-dollar New Jersey mansion, a long stretch in federal prison and severe damage to his consulting practice, which includes lucrative contracts with U.S. ally Jordan, according to multiple sources involved in the investigation.
Last spring, Kerik turned down a plea bargain in which the government offered a short prison sentence. Now friends of Kerik attempting to raise money for his defense have found the early going difficult, given that many of Kerik's associates may also have relationships with presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani who is routinely questioned about his relationship with Kerik.
On Monday, Giuliani said that whatever Kerik's failings, he had been an effective corrections commissioner and an effective police commissioner for the city of New York.