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Friday, November 27, 2009

Mayor worries about DWIs , not gangs

St. Louis' Mayor Slay: No more plea deals on DWI charges in the City
St. Louis, MO

The prosecutor in the city of St. Louis will no longer offer plea deals to first-time drunk drivers.

Mayor Francis Slay announced the policy change on his blog Tuesday. Until then, it was not uncommon for city counselor Patricia Hageman to agree to deals that would allow first-time offenders to keep a DUI charge off their record. A St. Louis Post-Dispatch report in October found the practice was widespread throughout the region. That, along with poor record-keeping, allowed individuals to avoid stiffer punishments as repeat offenders.

The practice sends mixed messages, Mayor Slay said in the blog posting, and ordered Hageman to stop.

The report is part of the reason for the change, Hageman said, but she also believes it's the right thing to do.

"Society passed a law and doesn't want first-time offenders to get a break. If you drive while you're intoxicated, than that's what you're charged with and that's what you should be convicted of if that's what you did," she said.

Hageman's office prosecutes about 500 DUI cases a year, and repeat offenders are sent to state courts. That will continue, she said. First-time municipal offenders face a $500 fine and 90 days in jail, as well as points on their drivers licenses.

The policy change should force people to realize the serious, criminal nature of drunk driving, said Meghan Carter, the executive director of the Gateway chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

"You open up the yellow pages or the white pages, and you see all these attorneys who handle DWI's," she said. "That, you know, is their job, but at the same time it was something that could be easily taken care of."

Missouri DWI Information & News Blog | PulledOver.com - MO DWI Lawyers

Missouri DWI Information & News Blog | PulledOver.com - MO DWI Lawyers

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Bernard Kerik

September 2009

Bernie Kerik: The Trial of an
American Hero

Sept. 11 marks the eighth anniversary of the day of infamy. The then-New York City police commissioner, Bernard B. Kerik, like his boss Rudy Giuliani, became a national hero. Today, Kerik is fighting for his reputation against a federal prosecution run amok.
By Dave Eberhart & Jim Meyers


verzealous federal prosecutors. A public figure who allegedly got home renovations as a gift. A massive federal investigation. A slew of charges. The target appears guilty, but a careful review of the evidence suggests otherwise.


9/11 aftermath New York City Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik is joined by Mayor Rudy Giuliani and President George W. Bush at ground zero.
This sounds like the case of former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, but it isn’t.

It is the ongoing legal saga of Bernard B. Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner and one-time Homeland Security secretary nominee.

Stevens was the sitting Alaska senator whose 2007 federal conviction for not reporting renovations to his home properly was overturned. In April 2009 a federal judge voided the verdict and ordered a criminal probe of six prosecutors involved in the case.

“In 25 years on the bench, I’ve never seen anything approaching the mishandling and misconduct that I’ve seen in this case,” U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said.

The Stevens case has become emblematic of the length federal prosecutors will go to convict their target — even if key evidence suggests innocence.

Federal Judge Stephen Robinson, who is overseeing the government’s case against Kerik, chided prosecutors for rummaging through his entire life to find some crime.

“It seems to me that it could fairly be said [that the complaint] is looking at the life of Mr. Kerik, and throwing everything at him,” Robinson said at a court proceeding earlier this year.

Kerik’s attorney, Barry H. Berke, also lambastes the government tactics in this case, especially the recent third indictment in a new jurisdiction, Washington, D.C.

“This is the third separate prosecution against him arising out of the same purported corruption allegations from 10 years ago — it is the latest example of the Department of Justice’s overzealous pursuit of high-profile public figures,” Berke explains in his offices at the prestigious New York firm of Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP. “The Justice Department’s own rules mandate that ‛the government bring as few charges as are necessary to ensure that justice is done,’” he adds.

Despite his legal woes, Kerik is still known as “America’s Top Cop” — New York’s police commissioner during the harrowing events of Sept. 11.

Along with his then-boss, “America’s Mayor” Rudy Giuliani, Kerik was catapulted to national hero status. For Kerik, the adulation has come at a price.

His misfortunes have served as a reverse barometer of Giuliani’s political success. As Giuliani became a celebrated presidential contender, Kerik became a convenient surrogate punching bag for the former mayor’s political enemies.

Today, Bernard Kerik is fighting for his innocence with a criminal guillotine hanging over his head. Cut off from most of his business and media access, his income has withered.

Now, he spends his time preparing his legal defense, when he’s not busy at his New Jersey home with his wife raising their two young daughters, ages 6 and 9. [Kerik's defense fund is at www.KerikLegalTrust.com.]

On Oct. 13, 2009, Kerik is set to begin one of as many as three trials federal prosecutors have laid out for him in a legal barrage that would have caused most others to capitulate.

A Second Look

Perhaps the most decorated police commissioner in New York City history, Kerik is an unlikely criminal target.

Born in Newark, N.J., Kerik was a high school drop-out who later got his GED and joined the Army.
After leaving the military, he landed at the New York City Police Department in 1986. Though a rookie, he was assigned quickly to the narcotics division.


in the zone Kerik worked for the Interior Ministry in Baghdad training police recruits.
His superiors assigned the street-smart Kerik to infiltrate the Colombia-based Cali drug cartel. He worked in concert with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, and the rookie detective’s story took on French Connection proportions as his beat soon expanded to Central and South America, where he helped the feds seize hundreds of million in cash and cocaine.

Throughout his police career, Kerik bagged more than 100 awards, including one of the police department’s highest awards, the Medal of Valor, a commendation from President Reagan himself, and an honorary appointment as commander of the British Empire from Queen Elizabeth II.
Though the narcotics detective episode alone could have sufficed as a sensational Hollywood screenplay, destiny would offer the young cop even greater drama.

In 1993, a former federal prosecutor, Rudy Giuliani, tapped Kerik to head his campaign security detail.

In 1998, then-Mayor Giuliani appointed him as commissioner of the New York City Department of Correction.

As Giuliani’s second term was in its final years, the mayor promoted his trusted friend Kerik the 40th New York City police commissioner. But the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001, was the pivotal moment that helped to intertwine the two men for eternity. Kerik was widely hailed for his performance overseeing the law enforcement response to the attack.

As Giuliani departed office, so did Kerik. The pair quickly formed a private security consulting firm Giuliani-Kerik, a subsidiary of Giuliani Partners.

Kerik became the go-to guy for governments around the world when questions arose about security matters. President Bush even appointed him as the Iraqi provisional government’s interim Interior minister.

Like Giuliani, Kerik became a national celebrity. His life story, The Lost Son: A Life in Pursuit of Justice, became a runaway New York Times best-seller.

Kerik’s status continued to rise when President Bush nominated him on Dec. 3, 2004, to succeed Tom Ridge as Homeland Security secretary, saying, “Bernie Kerik is one of the most accomplished and effective leaders of law enforcement in America.” That’s when Kerik’s troubles started.

A Bronx Probe

Almost immediately following the announcement of his nomination, a torrent of negative headlines soon greeted Kerik.


A week after being nominated, he withdrew, stating that he had unknowingly hired an undocumented worker as a nanny.

One of the allegations that surfaced during that time caught the eye of the Bronx district attorney who launched an 18-month grand jury investigation.

The inquiry revolved around renovations of Kerik’s Bronx apartment while he was correction commissioner in 1999 and whether he aided a New Jersey construction firm in gaining city permits in return for a lowball price on the home work.

As it turned out, the DA uncovered no evidence that Kerik had negotiated with the contractor for a discount on the renovations.

Kerik had, in fact, paid his entire bill for the work, but the DA contended, and Kerik disputed, that the actual bill should have been for much more — and that the work amounted to a gift to the then-city correction commissioner.

With scant evidence of wrongdoing, the Bronx DA offered Kerik a plea deal: He would accept guilt for two minor ethics violations, on the level of a traffic summons. Faced with significant legal fees, Kerik agreed to the deal on June 30, 2006.

At the time, the assistant Bronx district attorney stated that, “although some may draw inferences from this plea, there is no direct evidence of an agreement between Kerik and the New Jersey construction firm.” Kerik paid $221,000 in fines.

Though the Bronx DA had closed its case, the matter was far from resolved.

During their probe, the DA’s office had placed a wiretap on Kerik’s phone.


Jeanine Pirro
The tap captured a conversation between Kerik and former Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro.

A frequent contributor to Fox News, Pirro called Kerik and asked him to conduct surveillance on her husband, whom she suspected of marital infidelity.

According to published sources, the tapes indicate Kerik had tried to talk Pirro out of the surveillance.

In the summer of 2006, just months after the Bronx case had been closed, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced it was investigating Kerik.

The probe examined whether Kerik conspired to eavesdrop illegally and failed to pay taxes on the renovations “gift.”

In March 2007, The New York Times reported that federal prosecutors offered Kerik a deal if he would plead guilty to charges of tax fraud and wiretap conspiracy.

Kerik refused. In November 2007, the feds handed down a 16-count indictment charging him with “selling his office.”

Suppressing Evidence

But the federal indictment had all the earmarks of a kangaroo prosecution from the start.
One indication that federal prosecutors were out to get Kerik was their handling of the serious allegations Michael Caruso levied in a federal lawsuit. Caruso, who was inspector general for the New York City Department of Correction, filed the suit soon after the Bronx probe of Kerik had been completed.

Caruso’s suit alleged that he was terminated by the commissioner of the Department of Investigation, Rose Gill Hearn, after he refused to testify falsely that Kerik had pushed for the home contractor to garner city business. Rather than investigate Caruso’s claim that city officials sought to obstruct justice by having him commit perjury in the local grand jury probe, the U.S. attorney prosecuting Kerik, Elliott Jacobson, moved to prevent Caruso’s case from going forward.
By staying Caruso’s civil suit, Jacobson insured that evidence that might exonerate Kerik won’t surface until his criminal trial is complete.

Another disturbing aspect of the federal prosecution is its reliance on felon Lawrence Ray, described by New York magazine as a “high level con man,” as a key witness against Kerik. Ray and Kerik had been friends in the mid 1990s. But the two broke off their friendship after Ray was indicted in a securities fraud case linked to organized crime.

Ray had been a high-level informant in that case, but the FBI eventually would realize that they had been double-crossed by Ray.

The FBI also believed that Ray could “weave conspiratorial theories,” according to The Washington Post. In the end, Ray pleaded guilty and was sentenced to house arrest and probation. After Kerik’s legal problems arose, Ray offered prosecutors his “testimony” against Kerik.

The decision to quash Caruso’s allegations and to use Ray indicates how tenuous the federal case against Kerik is.

To buttress their case, prosecutors have sought to use the “kitchen sink” approach.

The fusillade of charges against Kerik fits the same pattern. For example, the federal indictment claimed Kerik falsely answered questions on his Homeland Security vetting forms and that he should have disclosed fully the issues relating to the renovations.
But Kerik said later that, when he filled out the forms, he did not believe he had done anything wrong with the renovations.

He would have had to have a crystal ball to have known to include the matter in his government vetting form before the Bronx DA had even investigated it.

Prosecutors also charged him with improperly taking a deduction for a home office in 2004. According to Kerik’s defense, his accountant caught the error in 2005, amended the return, and paid a penalty.

The prosecutors even went after him for his nanny problem. Though dozens of candidates have withdrawn their nominations through the years for not paying their housekeepers’ Social Security taxes, Kerik is the only one to be prosecuted.

Kerik pleaded not guilty to all charges and was released on a $500,000 bond.

“It’s a sad day because Bernard Kerik was a hero police officer,” Giuliani said shortly after the plea.
But the prosecutors apparently were unhappy only with Kerik’s decision to fight their charges. Early on, they moved to have his first defense counsel removed on a technicality. His passport was confiscated, cutting him off from income as an international consultant.


fight on Kerik, with attorney Barry Berke, after pleading not guilty to lying to the White House.
When prosecutors learned Kerik was seeking to mortgage his home to pay his legal bills, they swooped in and filed a lien on the home, preventing him from getting the loan.

Since the 2007 indictment, he was again slapped with two more sets of indictments.

Final Rounds

Despite depleting his entire personal wealth, Kerik is going into the final rounds a wounded, but not beaten, man. Kerik won one round in court in March when Judge Robinson, sitting in White Plains, N.Y., cited the statute of limitations in dismissing a wire-fraud charge.

Robinson also dismissed the charge that Kerik lied to the White House when he denied having any secrets that could embarrass him or President Bush.

The judge stated that at least two of the questions posed to Kerik at the time were too ambiguous for the answers to constitute deceit, and he then ordered that the tax-fraud charges against Kerik should be tried separately.

Kerik won another round in May, when Robinson ruled that prosecutors improperly lumped together the allegations of lying into Kerik’s New York corruption case by indicting him on a laundry list of illegal schemes and false statements over the span of eight years.

“The lone common link is Kerik himself, like an unpleasant episode of This Is Your Life,” the judge wrote in a scathing ruling criticizing federal prosecutors.

The judge’s moves apparently irked the prosecutors, who decided on May 26 to open up the new indictment against Kerik in D.C., including charging him with crimes Robinson had dismissed.

Kerik has declined to comment on his case. But Berke, his attorney, tells Newsmax, “Mr. Kerik looks forward to finally clearing his name of these corruption charges at his federal trial in New York set for October.”

Perhaps Ted Stevens’ defense lawyer, Brendan Sullivan Jr., put it best after his client was exonerated. Sullivan said that the way the Justice Department prosecuted his client “provided a warning to everyone in this country that any citizen can be convicted if the prosecutor ignores the Constitution.”

Any citizen — including an American hero.

Photo Credit: KERIK/AP IMAGES / GROUND ZERO/courtesy bernard kerik / pirro/AP IMAGES / kerik/ telegraph uk/zuma press / KERIK, BERKE/AP IMAGES

As originally published in Newsmax magazine.


September 2009

Bernie Kerik: The Trial of an
American Hero

Sept. 11 marks the eighth anniversary of the day of infamy. The then-New York City police commissioner, Bernard B. Kerik, like his boss Rudy Giuliani, became a national hero. Today, Kerik is fighting for his reputation against a federal prosecution run amok.
By Dave Eberhart & Jim Meyers


verzealous federal prosecutors. A public figure who allegedly got home renovations as a gift. A massive federal investigation. A slew of charges. The target appears guilty, but a careful review of the evidence suggests otherwise.


9/11 aftermath New York City Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik is joined by Mayor Rudy Giuliani and President George W. Bush at ground zero.
This sounds like the case of former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, but it isn’t.

It is the ongoing legal saga of Bernard B. Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner and one-time Homeland Security secretary nominee.

Stevens was the sitting Alaska senator whose 2007 federal conviction for not reporting renovations to his home properly was overturned. In April 2009 a federal judge voided the verdict and ordered a criminal probe of six prosecutors involved in the case.

“In 25 years on the bench, I’ve never seen anything approaching the mishandling and misconduct that I’ve seen in this case,” U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said.

The Stevens case has become emblematic of the length federal prosecutors will go to convict their target — even if key evidence suggests innocence.

Federal Judge Stephen Robinson, who is overseeing the government’s case against Kerik, chided prosecutors for rummaging through his entire life to find some crime.

“It seems to me that it could fairly be said [that the complaint] is looking at the life of Mr. Kerik, and throwing everything at him,” Robinson said at a court proceeding earlier this year.

Kerik’s attorney, Barry H. Berke, also lambastes the government tactics in this case, especially the recent third indictment in a new jurisdiction, Washington, D.C.

“This is the third separate prosecution against him arising out of the same purported corruption allegations from 10 years ago — it is the latest example of the Department of Justice’s overzealous pursuit of high-profile public figures,” Berke explains in his offices at the prestigious New York firm of Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP. “The Justice Department’s own rules mandate that ‛the government bring as few charges as are necessary to ensure that justice is done,’” he adds.

Despite his legal woes, Kerik is still known as “America’s Top Cop” — New York’s police commissioner during the harrowing events of Sept. 11.

Along with his then-boss, “America’s Mayor” Rudy Giuliani, Kerik was catapulted to national hero status. For Kerik, the adulation has come at a price.

His misfortunes have served as a reverse barometer of Giuliani’s political success. As Giuliani became a celebrated presidential contender, Kerik became a convenient surrogate punching bag for the former mayor’s political enemies.

Today, Bernard Kerik is fighting for his innocence with a criminal guillotine hanging over his head. Cut off from most of his business and media access, his income has withered.

Now, he spends his time preparing his legal defense, when he’s not busy at his New Jersey home with his wife raising their two young daughters, ages 6 and 9. [Kerik's defense fund is at www.KerikLegalTrust.com.]

On Oct. 13, 2009, Kerik is set to begin one of as many as three trials federal prosecutors have laid out for him in a legal barrage that would have caused most others to capitulate.

A Second Look

Perhaps the most decorated police commissioner in New York City history, Kerik is an unlikely criminal target.

Born in Newark, N.J., Kerik was a high school drop-out who later got his GED and joined the Army.
After leaving the military, he landed at the New York City Police Department in 1986. Though a rookie, he was assigned quickly to the narcotics division.


in the zone Kerik worked for the Interior Ministry in Baghdad training police recruits.
His superiors assigned the street-smart Kerik to infiltrate the Colombia-based Cali drug cartel. He worked in concert with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, and the rookie detective’s story took on French Connection proportions as his beat soon expanded to Central and South America, where he helped the feds seize hundreds of million in cash and cocaine.

Throughout his police career, Kerik bagged more than 100 awards, including one of the police department’s highest awards, the Medal of Valor, a commendation from President Reagan himself, and an honorary appointment as commander of the British Empire from Queen Elizabeth II.
Though the narcotics detective episode alone could have sufficed as a sensational Hollywood screenplay, destiny would offer the young cop even greater drama.

In 1993, a former federal prosecutor, Rudy Giuliani, tapped Kerik to head his campaign security detail.

In 1998, then-Mayor Giuliani appointed him as commissioner of the New York City Department of Correction.

As Giuliani’s second term was in its final years, the mayor promoted his trusted friend Kerik the 40th New York City police commissioner. But the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001, was the pivotal moment that helped to intertwine the two men for eternity. Kerik was widely hailed for his performance overseeing the law enforcement response to the attack.

As Giuliani departed office, so did Kerik. The pair quickly formed a private security consulting firm Giuliani-Kerik, a subsidiary of Giuliani Partners.

Kerik became the go-to guy for governments around the world when questions arose about security matters. President Bush even appointed him as the Iraqi provisional government’s interim Interior minister.

Like Giuliani, Kerik became a national celebrity. His life story, The Lost Son: A Life in Pursuit of Justice, became a runaway New York Times best-seller.

Kerik’s status continued to rise when President Bush nominated him on Dec. 3, 2004, to succeed Tom Ridge as Homeland Security secretary, saying, “Bernie Kerik is one of the most accomplished and effective leaders of law enforcement in America.” That’s when Kerik’s troubles started.

A Bronx Probe

Almost immediately following the announcement of his nomination, a torrent of negative headlines soon greeted Kerik.


A week after being nominated, he withdrew, stating that he had unknowingly hired an undocumented worker as a nanny.

One of the allegations that surfaced during that time caught the eye of the Bronx district attorney who launched an 18-month grand jury investigation.

The inquiry revolved around renovations of Kerik’s Bronx apartment while he was correction commissioner in 1999 and whether he aided a New Jersey construction firm in gaining city permits in return for a lowball price on the home work.

As it turned out, the DA uncovered no evidence that Kerik had negotiated with the contractor for a discount on the renovations.

Kerik had, in fact, paid his entire bill for the work, but the DA contended, and Kerik disputed, that the actual bill should have been for much more — and that the work amounted to a gift to the then-city correction commissioner.

With scant evidence of wrongdoing, the Bronx DA offered Kerik a plea deal: He would accept guilt for two minor ethics violations, on the level of a traffic summons. Faced with significant legal fees, Kerik agreed to the deal on June 30, 2006.

At the time, the assistant Bronx district attorney stated that, “although some may draw inferences from this plea, there is no direct evidence of an agreement between Kerik and the New Jersey construction firm.” Kerik paid $221,000 in fines.

Though the Bronx DA had closed its case, the matter was far from resolved.

During their probe, the DA’s office had placed a wiretap on Kerik’s phone.


Jeanine Pirro
The tap captured a conversation between Kerik and former Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro.

A frequent contributor to Fox News, Pirro called Kerik and asked him to conduct surveillance on her husband, whom she suspected of marital infidelity.

According to published sources, the tapes indicate Kerik had tried to talk Pirro out of the surveillance.

In the summer of 2006, just months after the Bronx case had been closed, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced it was investigating Kerik.

The probe examined whether Kerik conspired to eavesdrop illegally and failed to pay taxes on the renovations “gift.”

In March 2007, The New York Times reported that federal prosecutors offered Kerik a deal if he would plead guilty to charges of tax fraud and wiretap conspiracy.

Kerik refused. In November 2007, the feds handed down a 16-count indictment charging him with “selling his office.”

Suppressing Evidence

But the federal indictment had all the earmarks of a kangaroo prosecution from the start.
One indication that federal prosecutors were out to get Kerik was their handling of the serious allegations Michael Caruso levied in a federal lawsuit. Caruso, who was inspector general for the New York City Department of Correction, filed the suit soon after the Bronx probe of Kerik had been completed.

Caruso’s suit alleged that he was terminated by the commissioner of the Department of Investigation, Rose Gill Hearn, after he refused to testify falsely that Kerik had pushed for the home contractor to garner city business. Rather than investigate Caruso’s claim that city officials sought to obstruct justice by having him commit perjury in the local grand jury probe, the U.S. attorney prosecuting Kerik, Elliott Jacobson, moved to prevent Caruso’s case from going forward.
By staying Caruso’s civil suit, Jacobson insured that evidence that might exonerate Kerik won’t surface until his criminal trial is complete.

Another disturbing aspect of the federal prosecution is its reliance on felon Lawrence Ray, described by New York magazine as a “high level con man,” as a key witness against Kerik. Ray and Kerik had been friends in the mid 1990s. But the two broke off their friendship after Ray was indicted in a securities fraud case linked to organized crime.

Ray had been a high-level informant in that case, but the FBI eventually would realize that they had been double-crossed by Ray.

The FBI also believed that Ray could “weave conspiratorial theories,” according to The Washington Post. In the end, Ray pleaded guilty and was sentenced to house arrest and probation. After Kerik’s legal problems arose, Ray offered prosecutors his “testimony” against Kerik.

The decision to quash Caruso’s allegations and to use Ray indicates how tenuous the federal case against Kerik is.

To buttress their case, prosecutors have sought to use the “kitchen sink” approach.

The fusillade of charges against Kerik fits the same pattern. For example, the federal indictment claimed Kerik falsely answered questions on his Homeland Security vetting forms and that he should have disclosed fully the issues relating to the renovations.
But Kerik said later that, when he filled out the forms, he did not believe he had done anything wrong with the renovations.

He would have had to have a crystal ball to have known to include the matter in his government vetting form before the Bronx DA had even investigated it.

Prosecutors also charged him with improperly taking a deduction for a home office in 2004. According to Kerik’s defense, his accountant caught the error in 2005, amended the return, and paid a penalty.

The prosecutors even went after him for his nanny problem. Though dozens of candidates have withdrawn their nominations through the years for not paying their housekeepers’ Social Security taxes, Kerik is the only one to be prosecuted.

Kerik pleaded not guilty to all charges and was released on a $500,000 bond.

“It’s a sad day because Bernard Kerik was a hero police officer,” Giuliani said shortly after the plea.
But the prosecutors apparently were unhappy only with Kerik’s decision to fight their charges. Early on, they moved to have his first defense counsel removed on a technicality. His passport was confiscated, cutting him off from income as an international consultant.


fight on Kerik, with attorney Barry Berke, after pleading not guilty to lying to the White House.
When prosecutors learned Kerik was seeking to mortgage his home to pay his legal bills, they swooped in and filed a lien on the home, preventing him from getting the loan.

Since the 2007 indictment, he was again slapped with two more sets of indictments.

Final Rounds

Despite depleting his entire personal wealth, Kerik is going into the final rounds a wounded, but not beaten, man. Kerik won one round in court in March when Judge Robinson, sitting in White Plains, N.Y., cited the statute of limitations in dismissing a wire-fraud charge.

Robinson also dismissed the charge that Kerik lied to the White House when he denied having any secrets that could embarrass him or President Bush.

The judge stated that at least two of the questions posed to Kerik at the time were too ambiguous for the answers to constitute deceit, and he then ordered that the tax-fraud charges against Kerik should be tried separately.

Kerik won another round in May, when Robinson ruled that prosecutors improperly lumped together the allegations of lying into Kerik’s New York corruption case by indicting him on a laundry list of illegal schemes and false statements over the span of eight years.

“The lone common link is Kerik himself, like an unpleasant episode of This Is Your Life,” the judge wrote in a scathing ruling criticizing federal prosecutors.

The judge’s moves apparently irked the prosecutors, who decided on May 26 to open up the new indictment against Kerik in D.C., including charging him with crimes Robinson had dismissed.

Kerik has declined to comment on his case. But Berke, his attorney, tells Newsmax, “Mr. Kerik looks forward to finally clearing his name of these corruption charges at his federal trial in New York set for October.”

Perhaps Ted Stevens’ defense lawyer, Brendan Sullivan Jr., put it best after his client was exonerated. Sullivan said that the way the Justice Department prosecuted his client “provided a warning to everyone in this country that any citizen can be convicted if the prosecutor ignores the Constitution.”

Any citizen — including an American hero.

Photo Credit: KERIK/AP IMAGES / GROUND ZERO/courtesy bernard kerik / pirro/AP IMAGES / kerik/ telegraph uk/zuma press / KERIK, BERKE/AP IMAGES

As originally published in Newsmax magazine.



September 2009

Bernie Kerik: The Trial of an
American Hero

Sept. 11 marks the eighth anniversary of the day of infamy. The then-New York City police commissioner, Bernard B. Kerik, like his boss Rudy Giuliani, became a national hero. Today, Kerik is fighting for his reputation against a federal prosecution run amok.
By Dave Eberhart & Jim Meyers


verzealous federal prosecutors. A public figure who allegedly got home renovations as a gift. A massive federal investigation. A slew of charges. The target appears guilty, but a careful review of the evidence suggests otherwise.


9/11 aftermath New York City Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik is joined by Mayor Rudy Giuliani and President George W. Bush at ground zero.
This sounds like the case of former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, but it isn’t.

It is the ongoing legal saga of Bernard B. Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner and one-time Homeland Security secretary nominee.

Stevens was the sitting Alaska senator whose 2007 federal conviction for not reporting renovations to his home properly was overturned. In April 2009 a federal judge voided the verdict and ordered a criminal probe of six prosecutors involved in the case.

“In 25 years on the bench, I’ve never seen anything approaching the mishandling and misconduct that I’ve seen in this case,” U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said.

The Stevens case has become emblematic of the length federal prosecutors will go to convict their target — even if key evidence suggests innocence.

Federal Judge Stephen Robinson, who is overseeing the government’s case against Kerik, chided prosecutors for rummaging through his entire life to find some crime.

“It seems to me that it could fairly be said [that the complaint] is looking at the life of Mr. Kerik, and throwing everything at him,” Robinson said at a court proceeding earlier this year.

Kerik’s attorney, Barry H. Berke, also lambastes the government tactics in this case, especially the recent third indictment in a new jurisdiction, Washington, D.C.

“This is the third separate prosecution against him arising out of the same purported corruption allegations from 10 years ago — it is the latest example of the Department of Justice’s overzealous pursuit of high-profile public figures,” Berke explains in his offices at the prestigious New York firm of Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP. “The Justice Department’s own rules mandate that ‛the government bring as few charges as are necessary to ensure that justice is done,’” he adds.

Despite his legal woes, Kerik is still known as “America’s Top Cop” — New York’s police commissioner during the harrowing events of Sept. 11.

Along with his then-boss, “America’s Mayor” Rudy Giuliani, Kerik was catapulted to national hero status. For Kerik, the adulation has come at a price.

His misfortunes have served as a reverse barometer of Giuliani’s political success. As Giuliani became a celebrated presidential contender, Kerik became a convenient surrogate punching bag for the former mayor’s political enemies.

Today, Bernard Kerik is fighting for his innocence with a criminal guillotine hanging over his head. Cut off from most of his business and media access, his income has withered.

Now, he spends his time preparing his legal defense, when he’s not busy at his New Jersey home with his wife raising their two young daughters, ages 6 and 9. [Kerik's defense fund is at www.KerikLegalTrust.com.]

On Oct. 13, 2009, Kerik is set to begin one of as many as three trials federal prosecutors have laid out for him in a legal barrage that would have caused most others to capitulate.

A Second Look

Perhaps the most decorated police commissioner in New York City history, Kerik is an unlikely criminal target.

Born in Newark, N.J., Kerik was a high school drop-out who later got his GED and joined the Army.
After leaving the military, he landed at the New York City Police Department in 1986. Though a rookie, he was assigned quickly to the narcotics division.


in the zone Kerik worked for the Interior Ministry in Baghdad training police recruits.
His superiors assigned the street-smart Kerik to infiltrate the Colombia-based Cali drug cartel. He worked in concert with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, and the rookie detective’s story took on French Connection proportions as his beat soon expanded to Central and South America, where he helped the feds seize hundreds of million in cash and cocaine.

Throughout his police career, Kerik bagged more than 100 awards, including one of the police department’s highest awards, the Medal of Valor, a commendation from President Reagan himself, and an honorary appointment as commander of the British Empire from Queen Elizabeth II.
Though the narcotics detective episode alone could have sufficed as a sensational Hollywood screenplay, destiny would offer the young cop even greater drama.

In 1993, a former federal prosecutor, Rudy Giuliani, tapped Kerik to head his campaign security detail.

In 1998, then-Mayor Giuliani appointed him as commissioner of the New York City Department of Correction.

As Giuliani’s second term was in its final years, the mayor promoted his trusted friend Kerik the 40th New York City police commissioner. But the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001, was the pivotal moment that helped to intertwine the two men for eternity. Kerik was widely hailed for his performance overseeing the law enforcement response to the attack.

As Giuliani departed office, so did Kerik. The pair quickly formed a private security consulting firm Giuliani-Kerik, a subsidiary of Giuliani Partners.

Kerik became the go-to guy for governments around the world when questions arose about security matters. President Bush even appointed him as the Iraqi provisional government’s interim Interior minister.

Like Giuliani, Kerik became a national celebrity. His life story, The Lost Son: A Life in Pursuit of Justice, became a runaway New York Times best-seller.

Kerik’s status continued to rise when President Bush nominated him on Dec. 3, 2004, to succeed Tom Ridge as Homeland Security secretary, saying, “Bernie Kerik is one of the most accomplished and effective leaders of law enforcement in America.” That’s when Kerik’s troubles started.

A Bronx Probe

Almost immediately following the announcement of his nomination, a torrent of negative headlines soon greeted Kerik.


A week after being nominated, he withdrew, stating that he had unknowingly hired an undocumented worker as a nanny.

One of the allegations that surfaced during that time caught the eye of the Bronx district attorney who launched an 18-month grand jury investigation.

The inquiry revolved around renovations of Kerik’s Bronx apartment while he was correction commissioner in 1999 and whether he aided a New Jersey construction firm in gaining city permits in return for a lowball price on the home work.

As it turned out, the DA uncovered no evidence that Kerik had negotiated with the contractor for a discount on the renovations.

Kerik had, in fact, paid his entire bill for the work, but the DA contended, and Kerik disputed, that the actual bill should have been for much more — and that the work amounted to a gift to the then-city correction commissioner.

With scant evidence of wrongdoing, the Bronx DA offered Kerik a plea deal: He would accept guilt for two minor ethics violations, on the level of a traffic summons. Faced with significant legal fees, Kerik agreed to the deal on June 30, 2006.

At the time, the assistant Bronx district attorney stated that, “although some may draw inferences from this plea, there is no direct evidence of an agreement between Kerik and the New Jersey construction firm.” Kerik paid $221,000 in fines.

Though the Bronx DA had closed its case, the matter was far from resolved.

During their probe, the DA’s office had placed a wiretap on Kerik’s phone.


Jeanine Pirro
The tap captured a conversation between Kerik and former Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro.

A frequent contributor to Fox News, Pirro called Kerik and asked him to conduct surveillance on her husband, whom she suspected of marital infidelity.

According to published sources, the tapes indicate Kerik had tried to talk Pirro out of the surveillance.

In the summer of 2006, just months after the Bronx case had been closed, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced it was investigating Kerik.

The probe examined whether Kerik conspired to eavesdrop illegally and failed to pay taxes on the renovations “gift.”

In March 2007, The New York Times reported that federal prosecutors offered Kerik a deal if he would plead guilty to charges of tax fraud and wiretap conspiracy.

Kerik refused. In November 2007, the feds handed down a 16-count indictment charging him with “selling his office.”

Suppressing Evidence

But the federal indictment had all the earmarks of a kangaroo prosecution from the start.
One indication that federal prosecutors were out to get Kerik was their handling of the serious allegations Michael Caruso levied in a federal lawsuit. Caruso, who was inspector general for the New York City Department of Correction, filed the suit soon after the Bronx probe of Kerik had been completed.

Caruso’s suit alleged that he was terminated by the commissioner of the Department of Investigation, Rose Gill Hearn, after he refused to testify falsely that Kerik had pushed for the home contractor to garner city business. Rather than investigate Caruso’s claim that city officials sought to obstruct justice by having him commit perjury in the local grand jury probe, the U.S. attorney prosecuting Kerik, Elliott Jacobson, moved to prevent Caruso’s case from going forward.
By staying Caruso’s civil suit, Jacobson insured that evidence that might exonerate Kerik won’t surface until his criminal trial is complete.

Another disturbing aspect of the federal prosecution is its reliance on felon Lawrence Ray, described by New York magazine as a “high level con man,” as a key witness against Kerik. Ray and Kerik had been friends in the mid 1990s. But the two broke off their friendship after Ray was indicted in a securities fraud case linked to organized crime.

Ray had been a high-level informant in that case, but the FBI eventually would realize that they had been double-crossed by Ray.

The FBI also believed that Ray could “weave conspiratorial theories,” according to The Washington Post. In the end, Ray pleaded guilty and was sentenced to house arrest and probation. After Kerik’s legal problems arose, Ray offered prosecutors his “testimony” against Kerik.

The decision to quash Caruso’s allegations and to use Ray indicates how tenuous the federal case against Kerik is.

To buttress their case, prosecutors have sought to use the “kitchen sink” approach.

The fusillade of charges against Kerik fits the same pattern. For example, the federal indictment claimed Kerik falsely answered questions on his Homeland Security vetting forms and that he should have disclosed fully the issues relating to the renovations.
But Kerik said later that, when he filled out the forms, he did not believe he had done anything wrong with the renovations.

He would have had to have a crystal ball to have known to include the matter in his government vetting form before the Bronx DA had even investigated it.

Prosecutors also charged him with improperly taking a deduction for a home office in 2004. According to Kerik’s defense, his accountant caught the error in 2005, amended the return, and paid a penalty.

The prosecutors even went after him for his nanny problem. Though dozens of candidates have withdrawn their nominations through the years for not paying their housekeepers’ Social Security taxes, Kerik is the only one to be prosecuted.

Kerik pleaded not guilty to all charges and was released on a $500,000 bond.

“It’s a sad day because Bernard Kerik was a hero police officer,” Giuliani said shortly after the plea.
But the prosecutors apparently were unhappy only with Kerik’s decision to fight their charges. Early on, they moved to have his first defense counsel removed on a technicality. His passport was confiscated, cutting him off from income as an international consultant.


fight on Kerik, with attorney Barry Berke, after pleading not guilty to lying to the White House.
When prosecutors learned Kerik was seeking to mortgage his home to pay his legal bills, they swooped in and filed a lien on the home, preventing him from getting the loan.

Since the 2007 indictment, he was again slapped with two more sets of indictments.

Final Rounds

Despite depleting his entire personal wealth, Kerik is going into the final rounds a wounded, but not beaten, man. Kerik won one round in court in March when Judge Robinson, sitting in White Plains, N.Y., cited the statute of limitations in dismissing a wire-fraud charge.

Robinson also dismissed the charge that Kerik lied to the White House when he denied having any secrets that could embarrass him or President Bush.

The judge stated that at least two of the questions posed to Kerik at the time were too ambiguous for the answers to constitute deceit, and he then ordered that the tax-fraud charges against Kerik should be tried separately.

Kerik won another round in May, when Robinson ruled that prosecutors improperly lumped together the allegations of lying into Kerik’s New York corruption case by indicting him on a laundry list of illegal schemes and false statements over the span of eight years.

“The lone common link is Kerik himself, like an unpleasant episode of This Is Your Life,” the judge wrote in a scathing ruling criticizing federal prosecutors.

The judge’s moves apparently irked the prosecutors, who decided on May 26 to open up the new indictment against Kerik in D.C., including charging him with crimes Robinson had dismissed.

Kerik has declined to comment on his case. But Berke, his attorney, tells Newsmax, “Mr. Kerik looks forward to finally clearing his name of these corruption charges at his federal trial in New York set for October.”

Perhaps Ted Stevens’ defense lawyer, Brendan Sullivan Jr., put it best after his client was exonerated. Sullivan said that the way the Justice Department prosecuted his client “provided a warning to everyone in this country that any citizen can be convicted if the prosecutor ignores the Constitution.”

Any citizen — including an American hero.


This is the link....

http://w3.newsmax.com/a/sep09/bernard_kerik_trial/?s=al&promo_code=8846-1

Thursday, March 12, 2009

More Reassessment

St. Louis County Executive Charlie A. Dooley and his staff have rethought, reconfigured and rejiggered their December estimate that property tax assessments would drop by only 2 to 3 percent. Under a barrage of criticism from the public, the county came up with a way to make the new assessments more closely reflect plunging real estate values.

On Tuesday, county officials announced that upon further review, the median residential property tax assessment would be down 9 percent. “Median” means half the county’s 365,000 residential properties will see assessments drop by more than 9 percent and half by less than that.

That’s still far below the estimated 19 percent drop in median home value in the county between November 2007 and November 2008. But 9 percent is a little closer to reality, even though it will cause huge budget problems in many taxing jurisdictions.

St. Louis County, for example, keeps only 6.7 per cent of the $1 billion in residential property taxes it collects, passing the rest to the state, some municipalities, schools, fire districts, library districts and other taxing jurisdictions. But that 6.7 percent accounts for about a quarter of the county’s $504 million budget.

Depending on where you live, you could still get a shock when you open your tax bill in May, even if your neighbors just took a beating on the house they sold. That’s particularly true if you live in a school district that decides it will “roll up” its tax rate to avoid having to cut its budget.

Tax jurisdictions are allowed by state law to keep their budgets stable year-to-year. So if assessments go down, rates can go up, thus keeping the total revenue about even.

The county has, in effect, passed the bucks — or non bucks — to the taxing districts. Now they get the job of deciding how much people will have to pay in property taxes. What could have been one giant countywide fight will now be multiple local fights. School boards, city councils, fire boards and other administrative bodies should gird for battle.

The impact will be greatest in the county’s 20 school districts, which receive about 55 percent of the property tax revenue. A few of those districts already are at their maximum allowable tax rate, but most can still “roll up” their tax rates to keep revenue stable. Generally school boards are teacher-friendly (teachers being more keenly interested in school board elections than most folks) and can be expected to resist cutting their budgets.

It can be argued that this is the wrong point in the nation’s history to cut educational budgets. The workforce for the future will have to be smarter, more literate and more computer savvy than at any time in history. Whacking school budgets is no way to do that, nor are economically-stressed schools particularly good for property values.

At the same time, the recession is causing real pain. The last thing anyone who has been laid off or has been hit with higher health care costs needs is a property-tax rate increase on a home he can’t sell. This is a time for shared sacrifice; before rolling up tax rates, local school boards and administrators must be sure that every dollar is being spent wisely.

County property owners who want to get ahead of the curve can see their homes’ new assessments online at www.stlouisco.com. You can also reserve a place in line for an assessment appeal by calling (314) 615-5000. School board meetings need no reservations.

But you’ll have to until May to see what your tax bill will be, because schools and other tax districts have until then to decide their tax rates for the coming year.

Once they inform the county, the revenue department will mail homeowners their new assessed value along with an estimate of what their tax bill will be. The actual bills are mailed in the fall and are payable by year’s end. Maybe the recession will be over by then. We wouldn’t count on it.

Real Estate Assessment

Think your real estate taxes are going down? Not necessarily

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By Eric Becker
Tuesday, February 17, 2009 9:12 AM CST


It's nearly tax time in St. Charles County. No, not for the IRS. Your property and real estate tax assessment notices will arrive soon, telling you what you'll have to pony up come November.

You might think you'll owe less this year, given how the housing market has trended during the last two years, with real estate property market values falling between 5 and 10 percent.

But you'd likely be wrong. Sure, your assessment may go down, but you're likely to find you'll pay the same amount as last year in taxes, as local taxing districts find it necessary to raise tax rates to maintain an existing level of services. Such districts, which include school and fire districts, point out it still costs them the same amount to provide services.

County Assessor Scott Shipman wants you to know he's not the one setting tax rates. He just calculates your home's value.

THE PROCESS

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In April 2008, the assessor's office began sending its group of 10 property field evaluators around the county, armed with laptops that know just about everything about your home - how many times it has sold, at what price, its floor plan (unless you've made a change), the square footage, you name it.

Once evaluators revisited your property to monitor any change in appearance, they looked at your neighbor's lot, too.

According to a University of Missouri-St. Louis report, the county has historically assessed values at about 96 percent of their actual value, an accuracy that exceeds most other metro area counties in Missouri and Illinois. Many, whether for political expedience or otherwise, assess real estate at an artificially low level.

Part of that accuracy is likely due to the county assessor's calibration method. Once the assessor's office has set a value on your home, it checks its list twice. In order to adhere closer to fluctuations in the market value, the assessor's office runs its value assessment against property sales in the last year, and identifies any trend that can help it better assess your property. The office also looks at current offerings on homes for sale.

"The goal is 100 percent accuracy," Shipman said.

Shipman said that because inspectors don't enter residents' homes, it's possible they miss a refinished basement or pool added to a property that weren't in the county's plot maps. But he said all properties are assessed on a level playing field based on the information the county has.

This year, the assessor's office found its assessed values were running, on average, 10 percent higher than actual value, and revised downward.

Because of Senate Bill 711, passed last year, the county can only reassess real estate every two years. This year's assessment value will hold steady for 2010.

Residents can appeal the assessment to the county. Three to 3.5 percent of county residents do so every reassessment year, Shipman said.

SOME ASSESSMENTS MAY NOT DECREASE

Shipman said a common misconception is that his office assesses taxes, as well. In fact, the assessor's office only sets your property value, and the bill you get is from the county collector.

This year, as a result of Senate Bill 711, along with your assessment notice you receive in April, you'll get an explanation of how your tax bill was calculated, showing every political subdivision that taxes you.

Shipman is trying to get the word out early that your assessment value may not go down this year. Some values in the county have decreased, Shipman said, but some subdivisions may even see their assessed property value rise slightly or stay the same. It all depends on which one of the county's 300 neighborhoods you reside in.

"There are pockets that tend to be more desirable," Shipman said, thus maintaining higher values.

Because of the scarcity of some lower-priced homes, those assessed values tend to adhere even closer to actual market value.

Commercial properties, Shipman said, have generally taken a larger hit in value than residential properties, as a sour economy has raised vacancy rates at some industrial and office buildings.

SCHOOL DISTRICTS ADJUST

Some school districts have announced they'll have to raise tax rates to maintain their levels of service, and Francis Howell School District announced last week it will trim its staff by 62 positions, part of a $5.3 million cut in the 2009-10 budget. The district hopes those positions can be cut simply by not filling vacancies created by workers retiring or employees who quit. Francis Howell Superintendent Renee Schuster said last week she hoped few, if any, employees would lose their jobs.

The St. Charles School District, too, is facing a $1 million deficit, and Rick Radford, the district's assistant superintendent of business services, has said tax rates at school districts across the county will have to adjust to reduced property values.

All county taxing districts must receive assessments for their districts from the county assessor by March 1.

The Hancock Amendment, Radford said, requires school districts to adjust their tax rates so they meet the same level of tax revenue for fiscal year 2009-10 as they did for this school year. Likewise, when assessed values increase, the school district will be required to lower the tax rate so as not to collect more tax revenue than it currently does.

"The Hancock Amendment is going to dictate what our school boards can do," Radford said. "Our boards can adjust just a little bit, but they have to be pulling in the same revenue (at the current tax rate as before an assessed value decrease)."

As part of a charter county, political subdivisions in St. Charles County have until Oct. 1 to finalize tax rates. Those that are not charter counties have until Sept. 1.

Radford said residents' tax amount may not be higher, but the tax rate they pay may be higher.

"If I paid $1,000 last year, I may pay $1,000 this year, but the tax levy may be higher," he said.

Over the past several reassessments, Radford said, school tax levies have decreased as assessed values have ballooned. As a result, this reassessment creates a peculiar circumstance, and schools, fire and other districts that assess taxes are scrambling to meet their budgets with a downward trend in property assessments.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

NFL Players sue own Union and win $28Million

$28 Million NFLPA Verdict Reveals Details of EA's Madden Monopoly
November 17, 2008

Here at GamePolitics I've been complaining (some might say whining) since 2005 that EA's exclusive arrangement with the NFL is, at best, a bad deal for gamers.
At worst, it's a monopoly.
Ultimately, the Federal Trade Commission, looked at the Madden issue in relation to EA's merger dance with Take-Two Interactive. But, inasmuch as the FTC pre-approved the EA-T2 deal, its regulators apparently came down against the monopoly view.
But that was before secret e-mails from officials of the NFL Players Association were made public in September during a bitter court fight between retired players and the NFLPA. As GamePolitics reported last week, the retirees were ultimately awarded $28 million by a U.S. District Court jury in San Francisco. Three-quarters of that amount was levied as punitive damages. The NFLPA says that it will appeal.
While millions in Madden licensing fees were central to the case, EA itself was not a defendant. Despite that, incriminating e-mails clearly show that EA knew it was "scrambling" the likenesses of retired players on Madden's classic NFL teams. More relevant to the monopoly issue, however, is an e-mail which demonstrates that the NFLPA was complicit in helping EA maintain its status as the sole publisher of a pro football game. A February, 2007 e-mail from NFLPA executive Clay Walker to an NFLPA attorney makes this quite plain:
I was able to forge this deal with the [Pro Football Hall of Fame] that provides them with 400K per year (which is significantly below market rate) in exchange for the HOF player rights. EA owes me a huge favor because of that threat was enough to persuade Take Two to back off its plans, leaving EA as the only professional football videogame manufacturer out there.

...The per player price for most of these guys was tens of thousands of dollars less than what they were guaranteed by Take Two Interactive so it’s a real coup that we were able to pull this off so cheaply. You have to remember that EA’s total cost is only $200,000 per year. We know that Take Two offered six figure deals to several former NFL players so the total cost is millions below market prices...
Will the revelation that the NFLPA was actively assisting EA by keeping Take-Two on the sidelines raise any red flags at the Federal Trade Commission? Will FTC regulators revisit the Madden issue?
That remains to be seen. If you're asking yourself, "why is this issue important to gamers?" There are several very good reasons; all revolve around the concept of competition:
When Take-Two published the NFL2K series, EA had competition.
Competition forces companies to put out a better product.
Some gamers even preferred NFL2K to Madden.
Without an NFL license, Take-Two could not compete with Madden and gave up on pro football.
After EA's exclusive deal killed NFL2K, EA's raised the price of its next version of Madden by $20.
The price has remained at a higher rate ever since.
Finally, we should point out that a class-action lawsuit, Pecover vs. Electronic Arts, is currently working its way through U.S. District Court in California. Pecover essentially argues that game consumers were screwed by EA's Madden monopoly.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

New Blog

This new blog will begin shortly as the site has recently been updated.

Mike Smallwood