Disgraced NYC Police Commissioner Sentenced to Four Years in Prison

Former 'America's Cop' Bernard Kerik apologizes for corruption.

ByABC News
November 10, 2009, 4:51 PM

Feb. 18, 2010— -- The man once dubbed "America's Cop" for his leadership after Sept. 11 was sentenced to 48 months in prison today by a federal judge who said the damage caused by former New York City police chief Bernard Kerik was "immeasurable."

Judge Stephen Robinson went above the recommended sentencing range of 27 to 33 months in part because he felt that Kerik's abuse of the office of police commissioner of New York was part of a 10-year pattern of corruption and obstruction of justice that continued right into the courtroom.

"The guidelines don't take fully into account the operatic proportions of this case," said Robinson.

"I'd like to apologize to the American people," former NYPD commissioner Kerik said in a brief statement outside the courtroom after being sentenced. Kerik was convicted on charges that included lying to the White House and failing to report income and loans.

Judge Robinson said he entered court today fully expecting to immediately send Kerik to jail while he awaited assignment to prison, but he opted to allow Kerik to voluntarily surrender because he is not a danger to the community or a flight risk.

Kerik is due to surrender on May 17. He was accompanied to court today by his wife Hala and his son Joseph, a Newark, NJ detective.

While the judge's sentence was severe, he was balanced in his remarks about Kerik, saying, "I actually believe in him."

The former police commissioner did act in the highest traditions of a public servant in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, the judge said in a proceeding that lasted more than two hours.

But at the same time, Judge Robinson noted, Kerik also used the events of that day for personal gain. That behavior, including writing a book and using speaking fees that weren't actually received as a tax write-off, pointed to "a dark place in the soul," Robinson said.

Kerik had pleaded guilty to multiple counts of tax fraud and obstruction, becoming the first New York City Police Commissioner in more than 100 years to be found guilty of corruption.