Brotherly Love: Rudy and Bernie
April 2, 2007
Rudy Giuliani was so enamored of Bernie Kerik that, three years before appointing him police commissioner, he tried to make him the department’s number two man.
In 1997, this column has learned, Giuliani secretly tried to maneuver Kerik, his former bodyguard and driver, into the position of first deputy police commissioner, the second-ranking job in the NYPD.
The job was open because first deputy Tosano Simonetti was retiring.
But sources say that police commissioner Howard Safir nixed the plan — one of the few, if not the only, times Safir stood up to Giuliani.
According to these sources, Safir told the mayor he wanted no part of Kerik.
At the time, Kerik was the first deputy commissioner of the Corrections Department.
Instead, Safir appointed Patrick Kelleher, then Chief of Detectives, to succeed Simonetti.
Three years later, in August, 2000, when Safir announced his retirement, Giuliani again ignored his counsel, although he had called him “the greatest police commissioner in the city’s history.” Instead, Giuliani appointed Kerik — whom he had promoted to Corrections Commissioner — as Safir’s successor.
In appointing Kerik, Giuliani also ignored the recommendation of his own counsel, Dennison Young, one of the few people, together with Giuliani, said to have been briefed by the city’s Department of Investigation on Kerik’s background — in particular, his suspected mob connections.
Both Safir and Young had recommended Chief of Department and 30-year NYPD veteran Joe Dunne as police commissioner.
Neither Safir nor Young could be reached for comment yesterday. Giuliani spokeswoman Sunny Mindel declined comment.
In recent days, Giuliani, now a presidential candidate, has been acknowledging his so-called “mistake” in recommending Kerik to President George Bush as Director of Homeland Security in 2004.
But he has avoided discussing his more revealing mistake — his appointment of Kerik as police commissioner in 2000 in light of what it appears Giuliani knew about Kerik.
According to sources familiar with the issue — and as suggested by a recent report in the New York Times — both Rudy and Young had been briefed by the city’s Investigations Commissioner Edward Kuriansky about Kerik’s involvement with a New Jersey company, suspected of mob ties, before Giuliani appointed him police commissioner.
Last year Kerik pleaded guilty to accepting $165,000 in free renovations to an apartment he owned in the Bronx from that company, Interstate Industrial Corporation.
The company’s owners, Frank and Peter DiTommaso, have repeatedly denied mob ties. After they denied paying for Kerik’s apartment renovations, they were indicted in the Bronx for perjury.
At a court hearing ten days ago, this reporter asked the DiTommasos whether they remained in touch with Kerik. They dismissed the question with a wave of an arm in what appeared to be a gesture of disgust.
Here now are the questions that must be posed to Giuliani regarding Kerik’s appointment in 2000. We’re laying this out very simply so that everyone can appreciate what went on here.
Question One: Did Giuliani know in August, 2000, that an Interstate Industrial affiliate had hired both Kerik’s brother Donald and the best man at Kerik’s wedding, Lawrence Ray?
Question Two: Did Giuliani know that Ray had recently been indicted on federal criminal charges with Edward Garafola, a reputed Gambino solider and the brother-in-law of former underboss Salvatore Gravano, known as Sammy the Bull?
Question Three: Did Rudy know that an Interstate affiliate had sought a city license to operate a waste transfer station on Staten Island, purchased in 1996 from two reputed organized crime figures?
Question Four: Did Rudy know that Kerik, then Corrections Commissioner, had held a meeting in his office with Interstate and with Raymond Casey, the city official involved in awarding the transfer station contract and who happened to be Rudy’s relative?
Question Five: Did Rudy — who had known Kerik for a decade and was said to be so close that Rudy considered the two of them “brothers” — not ask Kerik directly about these connections? If not, why not?
A final point: Rudy Giuliani served as the United States Attorney for Southern District. He prosecuted numerous organized crime cases.
A dilettante he was not.
Last August, Kelly dismissed Giuliani’s 9/11 efforts in Wayne Barrett’s book, “Grand Illusion: the Untold Story of Rudy Giuliani and 9/11.”
As the Daily News wrote then, “Rudy Giuliani’s image as America’s Mayor is harshly questioned in a new book that takes to task the city preparedness on 9/11 – with some of the most pointed criticism coming from current Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.”
Specifically, Kelly told Barrett that when Giuliani interviewed him in late 1993 for the police commissioner’s job before firing him, Giuliani never mentioned terrorism as a potential threat to the city.
“There was no discussion about terrorism or February 26th,” a reference to the first attack on the World Trade Center, Kelly is quoted in “Grand Illusion.”
Kelly is also quoted as questioning the leadership of his predecessor, Kerik, on 9/11, saying, “I don’t know who was directing. I really don’t.”
So what’s with Kelly’s about face?
Is he seeking a rapprochement with the Republican presidential candidate? Perhaps in light of his own mayoral run?
Earth to Kelly: It won’t work, Ray. Rudy hates you, as you hate him. He holds grudges, as do you. And like you, he never forgets a slight.
Copyright © 2007 Leonard Levitt