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Kerik's Lawyer: Bernie Failed to Disclose Gifts

June 19, 2006

Former police commissioner Bernard Kerik failed to disclose gifts he received to renovate his Bronx apartment, his lawyer acknowledged yesterday.

The lawyer, Joe Tacopina, said for the first time that the gifts — which Tacopina said Kerik did not report on his financial disclosure forms, apparently in 2000 when Mayor Rudolph Giuliani appointed him police commissioner — were “loans from friends.”

Tacopina declined to say which friends or how much they had loaned, citing confidential grand jury matters.

A Bronx grand jury is investigating whether an allegedly mob-connected company secretly paid for $200,000 in renovations to Kerik’s apartment in return for Kerik’s help in gaining city business for the company after Giuliani appointed Kerik Corrections Commissioner in 1999.

Tacopina added that there were “no bribes and no ‘quo’” — adding that Kerik did nothing to help the company, the Interstate Industrial Corporation.

Tacopina said that the Bronx District Attorney’s office had made no offer of a deal whereby Kerik might plead guilty to the relatively minor non-reporting offense in return for Johnson’s dropping his investigation.

But Tacopina declined to say whether there have been discussions about such a deal. “I am not going to deal in hypotheticals,” he said, adding, “This case is all about Bernie’s reputation.

Steven Reed, a spokesman for Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson, declined comment.

Of equal concern to New Yorkers are the Department of Investigation’s apparent lapses in vetting Kerik, first in 1999 when Giuliani appointed him Corrections Commissioner then in 2000 when Giuliani selected him police commissioner over the 31-year department veteran Joe Dunne and Kerik’s most salient qualification appeared to be that he had served as Giuliani’s driver and bodyguard.

In both instances, DOI apparently ignored Kerik’s financial and personal irregularities, including his prior bankruptcies and an undisclosed marriage.

Said Tacopina: “The vetting process is not Bernie’s responsibility.”

A former top police official put it another way: “By law, such irregularities can’t be determiners but they are indicators of character.”

Here now, says the police official, are the questions let’s hope the grand jury has asked about that vetting process.

Question one: Who did the vetting for DOI in 1999? Kerik’s credit problems were in the public domain long before. Didn’t some of those signs surface then? If not, why not?

Question two: If they did surface, who slammed the door? Did someone at DOI determine that the information was not worthy to be brought to Giuliani’s attention? Or was everything that surfaced about Kerik’s fiscal irresponsibility called to Giuliani’s attention and he didn’t care?

Question three: Was Giuliani – who, according to news reports, testified before the grand jury in April — aware of Kerik’s apartment renovation and the fact that he had not filed the proper disclosure forms when Giuliani appointed Kerik police commissioner in 2000?

Question four: Will the deliberative Bronx D.A. Johnson make public the grand jury findings?

You Can't Make This Up.
Former FBI agent Lindley DeVecchio may well have been a mafia mole, as Brooklyn District Attorney Joe Hynes and his ace prosecutor Lothario Vecchione have charged.

But don’t say we didn’t warn you that when Hynes and Vecchione team up in high-profile cases, the strangest things can occur.

The latest is Angela Clemente, the mob-tracking forensic analyst who Hynes and Vecchione say led them to DeVecchio, and who is now bailing out of the case. Her departure follows her bizarre beating/choking/kicking by an unknown informant she was meeting about what Vecchione described as a “not unrelated” mob case in Nassau County.

Hynes’s spokesman Jerry Schmetterer said of Clemente: “She’s independent. We don’t know every move she makes. She never told us what she was doing. We had offered that if she ever needs back up we are there. We said, ‘If you think you are in danger and it relates to this case, we will provide back up.’ But she didn’t ask.”

Instead, the person she confided in to watch her back was Daily News reporter Angela Mosconi, whom Clemente telephoned three hours before her meeting and beating.

Found unconscious near the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn early Friday morning, Clemente was taken to Brooklyn’s Lutheran Hospital where, after supposedly suffering a seizure and against her doctors orders, she skipped out Friday night.

Wherefore Wheeler?
Your Humble Servant caught up with Transit Chief James Hall as he was leaving last week’s news conference at One Police Plaza.

Hall’s Brooklyn office is where Inspector Robert Wheeler III has been assigned since Police Commissioner Ray Kelly belatedly removed Wheeler’s weapon after he shot an alleged robbery suspect in Washington, D.C., fled the scene and failed to report the shooting to D.C. police.

The following exchange then occurred between Hall and Your Humble Servant.

YHS: Is Wheeler still working out of your office?

Chief Hall: Yeah. He’s still active.

YHS: Does he have his gun back?

Chief Hall: I don’t know.

YHS: You don’t know? Well, is he going to trial?”

With that, Hall scampered away without another word towards the safety of the elevator reserved for the top brass.

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Copyright © 2006 Leonard Levitt