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US Kerik Had ‘Hit Bottom.’ Then Trump Pardoned Him.

15:40  26 february  2020
15:40  26 february  2020 Source:   nytimes.com

Trump pardons former New York police commissioner Bernie Kerik

  Trump pardons former New York police commissioner Bernie Kerik President Donald Trump has pardoned former New York police commissioner Bernie Kerik, he announced at Joint Base Andrews on Tuesday. require(["medianetNativeAdOnArticle"], function (medianetNativeAdOnArticle) { medianetNativeAdOnArticle.getMedianetNativeAds(true); }); Kerik, who once served three years in federal prison for charges including tax fraud and lying to officials, was nominated as homeland security secretary by President George W. Bush but withdrew from consideration due to potential tax violations.

The day before, President Trump had personally informed Mr. Kerik that he was being pardoned . With that, the dishonored former New York City police commissioner was moved ahead of 14,000 others seeking pardons , forgiven his criminal convictions and unshackled from restrictions that can impede

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It was as if the last decade had not happened.

Bernard Kerik wearing a suit and tie looking at the camera: Since his release from prison in 2013, Bernard B. Kerik, a former New York City police commissioner, has remade himself as an advocate for criminal justice reform. © Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call, via Associated Press Since his release from prison in 2013, Bernard B. Kerik, a former New York City police commissioner, has remade himself as an advocate for criminal justice reform.

Wearing a black turtleneck and blazer — an American flag pin affixed to its lapel — Bernard B. Kerik made an appearance on Fox News. Then it was on to a Midtown steakhouse for dinner and Ketel-One-and-cranberry cocktails, courtesy of his old friend Bo Dietl, who wanted to toast Mr. Kerik.

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The day before, President Trump had personally informed Mr. Kerik that he was being pardoned. With that, the dishonored former New York City police commissioner was moved ahead of 14,000 others seeking pardons, forgiven his criminal convictions and unshackled from restrictions that can impede the post-prison careers of people with felony records.

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Mr. Kerik had a pardon application pending and Mr. Blagojevich had a commutation application pending, but a source close to the pardons office did not believe President Trump commuted the sentence of former Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois, calling him a “very nice person,” and said he

Ms. Hall has spent the last 14 years in prison, where she has participated in apprenticeships, completed coursework toward a college degree and led educational programs for other inmates, the Mr. Kerik , who was a close ally of former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, took responsibility for his actions.

During that dinner last week, Mr. Dietl, the profane security consultant and former New York police detective, raised the possibility of giving Mr. Kerik, 64, some work outside the country. Mr. Dietl recalled how his friend responded: “‘We could do some business, Bo.’”

The simple comment conveyed the world of opportunity restored.

For at least 10 years, Mr. Kerik had been seen as a fallen figure from a distant tough-guy era in New York, banished to the margins of power. But with the rise of Mr. Trump, Mr. Kerik’s fortunes changed. His brand — brashly conservative, critical of federal prosecutors and close with right-wing media — precisely fit the jaw-jutting mold favored in the White House.

George W. Bush et al. standing in front of a crowd: Mr. Kerik (left, in purple cap) rose to national prominence for his leadership during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York. © Doug Mills/Associated Press Mr. Kerik (left, in purple cap) rose to national prominence for his leadership during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York.

Suddenly, Mr. Kerik’s four-year prison sentence was no longer considered a fitting punishment for his betrayal of the public trust, as a judge had said. It was gross overreach by an out-of-control federal justice system that had unfairly brought down a national law enforcement hero.

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President Donald Trump has pardoned former New York police commissioner Bernie Kerik , he announced at Joint Base Andrews on Tuesday. Kerik , who once served three years in federal prison for charges including tax fraud and lying to officials, was nominated as homeland security secretary by

Trump , who has broad clemency powers granted by the Constitution, granted full pardons – a full legal forgiveness for a crime – to seven Kerik , the former New York Police Department commissioner who was hailed alongside then -Mayor Rudy Giuliani for the response to the 9/11 attacks, was sentenced

Mr. Kerik’s circle of friends had ascended in Washington under Mr. Trump, including his former boss, Rudolph W. Giuliani, now Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, and Christopher Ruddy, a confidant of the president’s and the chairman of a prominent right-wing media outlet. After his release from prison in 2013, Mr. Kerik made more than 50 appearances on Fox News, Mr. Trump’s preferred news source. He joined the defense team for the former Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher in a war-crimes case that became a cause célèbre for the president.

“I have a lot of friends and supporters who know the president,” Mr. Kerik said in an interview. He had remade himself as an advocate for criminal justice reform, his perspective dovetailing with Mr. Trump’s tirades about overzealous prosecutors and corrupt Department of Justice officials.

Bernard Kerik et al. posing for the camera: Mr. Kerik, right, was part of the defense team for Eddie Gallagher, a former Navy SEAL whose war-crimes case became a popular conservative cause. © Scott Wallace/Getty Images Mr. Kerik, right, was part of the defense team for Eddie Gallagher, a former Navy SEAL whose war-crimes case became a popular conservative cause.

But Mr. Kerik’s connections and frequent presence in conservative media belied the challenges he faced to earn money. Although he said in an interview that he had been working in security and crisis management, he also expressed frustration with the limited opportunities available to people with convictions.

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  Trump pardons Bernard Kerik: Why the former N.Y. police commissioner spent time in prison Kerik was sentenced to four years in prison in 2010 after pleading guilty to eight felony charges for offenses including failure to pay taxes.The White House announced Tuesday that Trump had granted a full pardon to Kerik, as well as a commutation for disgraced former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

But within a week, Mr. Kerik had withdrawn his name from consideration, citing what he said were questions about the immigration status of a nanny Mr. Kerik , a regular guest on Fox News programs, has more recently been in the news for his connection to Lawrence Ray, who is charged with

Kerik had already served his three years in prison for his crimes President Trump granted a full pardon to former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik on Tuesday, clearing him of his eight counts of tax fraud, lying to federal investigators, and other crimes that accompanied his downfall.

“These are the diminishments of your rights, and they last forever,” Mr. Kerik said. “You can do your time, you can do probation, you can be a model citizen for the rest of your life. That stuff stays with you.”

Mr. Kerik had been luckier than many returning from prison; he had a modest government pension and a New Jersey home worth nearly $2 million. But it had proven much tougher to recapture the more rarefied elements of his former life, including the well-paying work in far-flung locales that accommodated his taste for finer things.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Mr. Kerik has a circle of friends who are closely aligned with the White House, including Rudolph W. Giuliani, who is now President Trump’s personal lawyer. © Pool photo by Ron Sachs Mr. Kerik has a circle of friends who are closely aligned with the White House, including Rudolph W. Giuliani, who is now President Trump’s personal lawyer.

Mr. Kerik, one of 11 people granted clemency by the president last week, said that within days of his pardon he had been approached by representatives of “a foreign government in the Middle East” to discuss potential police and prison training contracts, and by a “well-known international business guy” about cybersecurity work.

Conversations like these did not happen before the pardon, according to Mr. Kerik, who spoke on Monday from Las Vegas, where he was giving a paid speech to an association of professional bail agents. “My life has been stagnant for the last six years,” he said.

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A spectacular fall

Mr. Kerik was once a tough-on-crime celebrity, with more than two dozen medals for heroism and meritorious service. A police bodyguard and driver for Mr. Giuliani, he rose to become New York City’s correction commissioner and police commissioner during Mr. Giuliani’s term as mayor. He attained national stature for his leadership in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

a man in a suit standing in front of a building: © Michael Appleton for The New York Times "I'd like to apologize to the American people," Mr. Kerik said after his 2010 federal sentencing.

Mr. Kerik followed Mr. Giuliani into the private sector, where they held themselves out as experts in crisis management and counterterrorism, at home and abroad.

After a brief stint as interior minister of Iraq following the U.S. invasion in 2003, Mr. Kerik was nominated by President George W. Bush as the secretary of homeland security. But a week later he withdrew from consideration, citing his employment of an undocumented nanny. More troubling allegations surfaced that while still a city official, he had accepted illegal gifts from associates, some of whom did business with the city.

Mr. Kerik pleaded guilty in 2006 to misdemeanor charges in connection with $165,000 in free renovations to a Bronx apartment he owned, provided by a company seeking a city license. Then, in 2009, he pleaded guilty to federal charges of tax fraud and making false statements.

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Citing a betrayal of the public trust, a federal judge sentenced Mr. Kerik to four years in prison, a harsher punishment than the one recommended by prosecutors.

Friends, including the journalist Geraldo Rivera, attended a farewell party at Mr. Kerik’s home in Franklin Lakes, N.J. Before surrendering to federal prison authorities, Mr. Kerik posted a note online recalling his long public service, quoting a line from his friend Sylvester Stallone in “Rocky” — and criticizing the judge who had sentenced him.

A restricted life

More than his time in prison, Mr. Kerik’s prosecution and the post-release limits on his life appear to have spurred his interest in criminal justice reform.

“What I’ve come to learn is that these failings and misuses of the system are quickly becoming the norm,” Mr. Kerik wrote in a memoir published after his release.

Mr. Kerik founded a short-lived nonprofit, the American Coalition for Criminal Justice Reform. He addressed colleges and universities and spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference. He has testified before Congress and repeatedly visited the White House, three times during the Obama years and at least twice during the Trump administration.

“People knew that he came up the ranks as a cop and worked at Rikers,” said Mark Cranston, the warden for jails in Middlesex County, N.J., and a former acting commissioner at the Rikers Island jail complex in New York. “It helped a lot to convert people who were iffy about the need for change.”

He also became involved in veterans’ causes. Charlie Daniels, the Southern rock music star — who runs a veterans’ support program, the Journey Home Project — said in an email that he heard Mr. Kerik talk at a veterans’ event about his 9/11 experiences and invited him to speak in Nashville at a charity event for the project.

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  Opinion: Trump’s pardons demonstrate his belief that white-collar crime isn’t real crime Donald Trump’s own life and actions suggests that he doesn’t consider white-collar crime to be a big deal. You’ve got to remember that for his entire adult life—the 50 years before his election to the presidency—Trump lived in a world of non-accountability, a world where he could do as he pleased. He witnessed a loose culture in which white collar criminals generally got away with their crimes. Tax evasion, bribery, money laundering dabbling with mobsters and more. It’s probably no coincidence that Trump himself has been accused of each of these things as well.

Mr. Daniels wrote: “He has basically become a regular at our annual event, never failing to bring home the events and ramifications of that horrible day, in firsthand dialogue, like nobody I’ve ever heard.”

Still, the felony conviction remained Mr. Kerik’s scarlet letter. He could not get security clearance for government jobs. Private companies shied away.

“Any job that’s regulated by the government you can’t do,” Mr. Kerik said. “I wanted to travel to Canada to give a speech; you can’t do it. I was offered a speech in London; couldn’t do it.”

Mr. Kerik cobbled together work, relying on connections, garnering modest security contracts — including some that he said he “wouldn’t have entertained” before the conviction — and drawing frequently on his life story. But friends say it did not amount to much.

“He needed a lot of encouragement,” said Albert Manzo, a longtime friend and the husband of Caroline Manzo, once featured on “The Real Housewives of New Jersey.”

“He definitely hit bottom at one point,” Mr. Manzo said. “He felt a lot of people abandoned him.”

Mr. Kerik was not paid for his many appearances on the Fox network — he said the exposure helped win him speaking gigs — but he earned some money as a paid contributor to the right-wing news site, Newsmax. His prison memoir sold only modestly well, and a subsequent novel — about a philandering New York police commissioner who uncovers an international conspiracy that threatens the nation — even less so.

Records show that he still owes hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal taxes and restitution, and liens remain on his New Jersey home and on some property in Florida.

“It was sinful in my mind what had happened,” said Mr. Ruddy, the chairman of Newsmax, who visited Mr. Kerik in prison. “I mentioned to the president several times that he should consider a pardon.”

The road to a pardon

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Mr. Ruddy became a benefactor. He urged Mr. Kerik to write that novel and then published it. He introduced him to other prominent Trump supporters. He also played a role in advocating for his friend’s pardon.

About a year ago, Mr. Ruddy brought Mr. Kerik to dinner at Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s Florida resort and sanctuary. They had a brief conversation with the president, with whom Mr. Ruddy has regular contact.

“We said hello,” Mr. Ruddy recalled. “It was not an effort to lobby.”

Mr. Kerik also spent time in Las Vegas with his friend, the Newsmax personality Wayne Allyn Root. A columnist, radio host and prominent Trump supporter, Mr. Root is also known for engaging in conspiracy theories, including the falsehood that Mr. Obama was not born in the United States, a fiction that Mr. Trump also trafficked in at one time.

“I told him, ‘I have an idea in mind,’” Mr. Root recalled. “To write a column and get it in the president’s hands: ‘Mr. President: Please Pardon Bernie Kerik.’”

In September, Mr. Root did exactly as he promised. He said last week that he is positive that his pardon-for-Kerik column circulated within the White House.

“I’ve got quite a few friends,” he said.

A White House spokesman declined to respond to questions about Mr. Kerik’s pardon.

Mr. Root said that he never heard anything about the matter until 6 a.m. on Feb. 18, when he received a call at his home in Las Vegas from an attorney he didn’t know: David Safavian, the general counsel for the American Conservative Union, who long ago spent a year in prison for government corruption.

Mr. Safavian, he said, wanted to know whether Mr. Root would sign on to a letter to Mr. Trump supporting Mr. Kerik’s pardon. But the letter had to be in the president’s hands by noon Eastern time. “’I’m the guy who wrote that column,’ Mr. Root recalled saying. “‘Of course, I would.’”

Mr. Root said Mr. Kerik deserved the break. “Anybody who’s in the military, or the police — they get extra credit, as they say in school,” he said. “Let’s let him live his life.”

Others were also being urgently called, some of them by Mr. Kerik. Christopher Ruddy. Geraldo Rivera. Charlie Daniels. In the end they joined more people who had signed on, many of them avid Trump supporters, including the Newsmax television host John Cardillo and Mr. Gallagher, the former Navy SEAL. (Mr. Giuliani declined to comment on his role in Mr. Kerik’s pardon, although a White House news release listed him as having supported it.)

A few minutes before noon that Tuesday, Mr. Trump picked up the telephone to say that all was forgiven. With that, Bernard B. Kerik was back in business.

Michael Rothfeld contributed reporting. Alain Delaqueriere and Susan Beachy contributed research.

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