Inmate Bernard Kerik in NYC to testify
Federal inmate No. 84888-054 has saluted victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on his blog. He's also used it to lend his opposition to an Islamic center near Ground Zero, and to honor his father this past Father's Day.
The behind-bars blogging by convicted former New York City police Commissioner Bernard Kerik is a bit of a mystery: Federal prisoners don't have Internet access, except for limited email correspondence that's apparently allowing someone to post for him.
In recent days, Kerik had a more direct line of communication with the outside world -- only this time, it's against his will, under oath and on a sore subject.
Prosecutors in the Bronx forced the one-time protege of former Mayor Rudy Giuliani to testify as a government witness at the perjury trial of two contractor brothers who arranged to have his apartment remodeled. The same investigation resulted in Kerik pleading guilty in 2006 and 2009 to state and federal false statement and other charges stemming from allegations that, while a city official, he knowingly paid only $30,000 for renovations worth between $165,000 and $255,000.
"Fair to say you're not happy to be here?" a prosecutor asked Kerik Wednesday.
"Yes, sir," responded Kerik.
Kerik, 57, who's serving time in a Maryland prison on the federal charges, has been temporarily transferred to a lower Manhattan lockup while appearing at the Bronx trial.
With a day off Tuesday, Kerik completed his stint on the witness stand without making much impact on the case. He admitted meeting with one of the brothers at his home amid a grand jury investigation in the mid-2000s. But as for what they talked about, he said, "I don't remember."
The appearance this week marked the first time Kerik had surfaced publicly since he surrendered for a 4-year prison term in 2010. He looked much thinner than in his glory days -- his head still clean-shaven but his signature mustache gone.
It was the latest indignity for Kerik, whose downfall began in 2004, within days after the then-Bush White House nominated him to lead the Department of Homeland Security. At the time, he was billed as a no-nonsense patriot who, as leader of the nation's largest police department, helped restore order following 9/11.
But the nomination was greeted with a rash of news reports about stock-option windfalls, the shady apartment renovations and sexual liaisons with the publisher of his memoir at an apartment near Ground Zero that had been set aside for rescue workers.
His decision to withdraw his name for consideration for the cabinet post and his later indictment in 2007 embarrassed Giuliani, then a prospective presidential candidate.