Chimpy’s pick to train Baghdad police forces and run the Dept. of Homeland Security is back in trouble.
Former Police Commissioner Bernard B. Kerik is under federal investigation for possible financial improprieties unrelated to the crimes he pleaded guilty to last month in state court, two law enforcement officials said yesterday.
The federal investigation began about a year ago and has focused on a foundation affiliated with the city’s Department of Correction during Mr. Kerik’s tenure as its commissioner, from 1998 to 2000, according to one of the officials, both of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity. Mr. Kerik later served as police commissioner from August 2000 to December 2001. Last month, Mr. Kerik pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors in State Supreme Court in the Bronx. Under an agreement that allowed him to avoid jail time and a felony conviction, he admitted accepting $165,000 in apartment renovations from a company accused of having ties to organized crime; he agreed to pay $221,000 in fines.
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In July of that year, a former high-ranking Correction Department official was arrested and later pleaded guilty to mail fraud charges, admitting that he stole more than $137,000 from the fund.
But hundreds of thousands of dollars of the foundation’s money, which came from rebates on cigarettes purchased for inmates, was apparently never accounted for.
The federal investigation is being conducted by the F.B.I. and prosecutors from the office of Michael Garcia, the United States attorney in Manhattan, who have subpoenaed bank records, one of the officials said. The precise suspicions about Mr. Kerik with regard to the foundation funds were unclear.
The investigation is the latest blow for a man whose stunning rise from detective to the city’s highest-ranking law enforcement official nearly took him to the White House, when President Bush nominated him to serve as Homeland Security secretary in December 2004.
Mr. Kerik withdrew his name a week after the president’s announcement, citing tax and immigration issues involving his nanny, a move that was followed by a torrent of disclosures and accusations of personal and financial improprieties.
The foundation, the New York City Correction Foundation, was headed by Mr. Kerik during his tenure at the Correction Department.
The sole signatory on the foundation’s accounts was Frederick J. Patrick, who pleaded guilty in 2003 to looting the nonprofit corporation. Its stated purpose was to finance programs and activities to strengthen the department.
Mr. Patrick held high-level posts in the department from 1994 until 1998, during the administration of Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani. Mayor Giuliani went on to name him to a series of higher level posts, including commissioner of juvenile justice and deputy commissioner of community affairs in the Police Department.
Mr. Patrick, who spent the stolen money on collect calls he accepted from inmates in city jails and state prisons, some of which officials have said involved phone sex, was sentenced in June 2004 to a year and day in federal prison. He was released in July 2005.