Len Levitt is the author of “NYPD Confidential: Power and Corruption in the Country's Greatest Police Force."
So who's lying, attorney Joe Tacopina or former NYPD Commissioner Bernie Kerik?
Did Tacopina, as Kerik alleges in a lawsuit, give him bad legal advice that forced Kerik a year later to plead guilty to eight federal felony counts, leading to 3 years in prison?
Did Tacopina meet secretly with federal prosecutors to provide evidence against Kerik because the feds were investigating Tacopina, as Kerik alleges?
Or as Tacopina's attorney puts it: Did Kerik spend years in prison mistakenly convinced Tacopina was the cause of his woes?
Kerik's suit claims negligence and malpractice. Tacopina countersued for defamation, seeking $5 million. Last week, Kerik upped the ante: He called reporters to make his case and amended his suit against Tacopina.
Kerik claims his troubles began in June 2006, when Tacopina convinced him that pleading guilty to two misdemeanors -- including accepting $165,000 in free renovations to his Riverdale apartment from a firm seeking a city contract while Kerik was corrections commissioner -- would end his legal problems.
Kerik says the feds used the plea to indict him a year later on conspiracy, tax fraud, and lying to the White House during his failed Homeland Security nomination. The feds then disqualified Tacopina as Kerik's attorney, claiming he might be a witness.
Documents allege Tacopina told former Bronx Chief Assistant District Attorney Barry Kluger the renovations only cost $50,000 and that Kerik paid for them. Kluger did not return calls.
Suspecting Tacopina helped Kerik launder money, the feds examined Tacopina's business records in 2007. No charges were filed against Tacopina.
Last Tuesday, Kerik played a recording for reporters of an alleged call with Tacopina on Dec. 9, 2007, a month after Kerik's federal indictment. Tacopina has denied making the call, which did not involve Kerik's indictment. It involved a real estate venture with a businessman who was Tacopina's client. Kerik claims Tacopina stiffed him on a promised $1.5-million finder's fee from the deal.
Tacopina's attorney, Judd Burstein, says Kerik lacks credibility because he admitted lying in his guilty plea in federal court in 2009. If a man admits lying when pleading guilty, Burstein asks, how can you believe anything he says?