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.
The judge had previously revoked Kerik's $500,000 bail in October, citing evidence that Kerik had violated a court order by releasing sealed materials that he felt may have been exculpatory to Kerik, and that information was shared with members of the media. He then allowed Kerik to be freed from jail in November but stiffened his bail conditions, confining Kerik to his home and making him wear an electronic monitoring bracelet.
Prosecutors had alleged that Kerik, while New York City Correction Commissioner - a post he held prior to his appointment as Police Commissioner by Rudolph Giuliani - allowed a construction company to pay for renovations to his Bronx apartment in the hope that he would help the company obtain a city license.
They also accused Kerik of providing false information to the White House while under consideration for the job of head of Homeland Security, a post he was nominated for by President George W. Bush.