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The Future: Here Are Some Predictions For 2009

December 29, 2008

January. Facing $4.7 million in fines and 142 years in prison if convicted of 16 counts of fraud, tax evasion and making false statements, former police commissioner Bernard Kerik holds a news conference outside the White Plains federal courthouse, where he declares, “Rudy Giuliani has deserted me. Joe Tacopina has betrayed me. John Picciano has disappeared.” He then passes out business cards, which say on the front, “Victim,” and on the back, “Bernard Kerik Legal Defense Fund, Suggested Contribution: $75.”

February. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly hold a news conference to deny a report in this column that Bloomberg was overheard calling Kelly “too rigid” and a “martinet.” Kelly also denies he urged incoming Attorney General Eric Holder to move faster in approving wiretaps on suspected terrorists than did his Republican predecessor, Michael Mukasey. “And, contrary to what was suggested,” Kelly adds, “if the mayor replaces me, I will not miss wearing my gold cufflinks and Charvet tie.”

March. Kelly welcomes the FBI’s new head of the New York office, Joseph Demarest, to One Police Plaza, announcing “a new era of cooperation between the NYPD and federal authorities.” Standing next to him are newly promoted Assistant Chiefs Thomas Galati of the Intelligence Division and James Waters of the Counter Terrorism Bureau. Galati apologizes for delaying Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at Kennedy Airport in 2007 by conducting an unauthorized weapons check on his entire delegation. “I realize now that this was the job of the Secret Service and the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service,” Galati says. “Not the NYPD.” Waters apologizes for offending the FBI while praising an NYPD detective for the capture of a radical Muslim cleric. “I mistakenly said, ‘Nobody is better than the New York City cops at this kind of thing,’” Waters says. “I now realize the FBI is just as good.”

April. Demarest’s predecessor Mark Mershon, who retired from the FBI in December, is seen on the island of St. Kitts, advising Prime Minister Denzil L. Douglas on local gang problems. Mershon supposedly lined up his new job during two trips to St. Kitts, while still head of the Bureau’s New York office. FBI spokesman John Miller declines to say whether the Justice Department is investigating whether Mershon had informed FBI superiors he was meeting with a foreign head of state, although he adds, “This is just the kind of thing that the Justice Department’s Inspector General Glen Fine loves to pursue.” Miller also thanks Deputy Commissioner David Cohen for tipping off the Bureau to Mershon’s St. Kitts excursions, saying, “If this is what cooperation between the NYPD and the FBI entails, then I’m sure Ray Kelly is all for it.”

May. Rudy Giuliani begins negotiations to host a radio talk show with Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. The former mayor, who is considering a run for governor and is positioning himself as the standard bearer of the far Republican right, professes ignorance of the status of his son Andrew’s law suit against Duke University for tossing him off the golf team. Alaska governor Palin, also positioning herself as Giuliani’s rival for the far right’s support, professes ignorance of the whereabouts of her pregnant 17-year-old daughter’s boyfriend, who was last spotted on a trawler in the Bering Strait heading toward Siberia.

June. Ex-cop turned city council member and possible state senator Hiram Monserrate accuses Queens District Attorney Richard Brown of a double standard in charging him with stabbing his girlfriend in the face with a broken glass. Monserrate points out that Brown never charged Kerik’s former chief of staff John Picciano for sneaking into his girlfriend’s apartment through her balcony, pulling her hair, pushing her to the floor and threatening to shoot her in 1998. Brown’s assistant Jack Ryan points out that, in 1998, the DA’s office lacked the expertise of its newly appointed detective supervisor, retired NYPD Lieu. Pete Martin. “Pete’s great at crime scenes,” says Ryan, “despite his line-of-duty disability.” Asked to comment on Martin’s health, D.A. Brown says, “I am the District Attorney of Queens County, not a physical therapist.”

July. Federal prosecutors seek a delay in Kerik’s trial, adding six more counts to his indictment, meaning that, if convicted, he faces another 47 years in prison. At a news conference outside the White Plains courthouse, Kerik declares, “John Picciano’s disappearance has nothing to do with Hiram Monserrate’s girlfriend.” Kerik then passes out new business cards, which say on the front, “American Hero,” and on the back, “Minimum Contribution to the Bernard Kerik Legal Defense Fund: $125.” Reached on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where he is on the lam from creditors, Picciano says, “I said it before and I’ll say it again. I am just a simple man with a few harmless vices.”

August. Instead of presenting evidence against police officer Richard Kern for allegedly using his police baton to sodomize a man on a subway platform, Brooklyn District Attorney Joe Hynes devotes his opening argument to praising Ray Kelly. “Some people credit the Mollen Commission and the Knapp Commission before it with stopping corruption,” says Hynes. “Others credit Frank Serpico. I credit Ray Kelly.” Kelly’s spokesman, Paul Browne, denies Hynes is suffering from law enforcement amnesia, a malady affecting district attorneys 70-years-old or older who have served in their positions 20 years or more. Says Browne: “Look at Morgenthau. He’s 98.”

September. Judith Miller, the former New York Times reporter who wrote that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, then spent a few months in jail for protecting indicted White House operative Scooter Libby, writes a magazine article called, “Inside the Brain of David Cohen.” Citing “confidential police sources,” she writes that Cohen “is studying a plan that will protect the city from terrorists while promoting the Christmas spirit.” Cohen’s plan, Miller writes, originated from a homeless man’s knocking on the door of Deputy Commissioner Richard Falkenrath’s home in Riverdale to ask for a glass of water. Fearing he might be part of a sleeper cell, Intelligence Division detectives locked him in a psych ward for five weeks, then drove him to Chicago and left him with relatives. “Now,” Miller writes, “Cohen is seeking to forego the psychiatric process and to transport all arrested homeless men to relatives living at least 100 miles from the city.” The plan, she quotes Cohen as saying, “can be especially effective around Christmas, giving the men a renewed sense of family while lowering the December crime rate.”

October. The Manhattan Institute hosts an international conference entitled: “Seven Years of a Corruption-Free Police Department. How Ray Kelly did it!” The keynote speaker is Joe Hynes, who presents the first annual “NYPD Anti-Corruption Award” to Michael Armstrong, the chairman of the Mayor’s Commissioner to Combat Police Corruption. In his three years as chairman, Armstrong has not investigated any allegation of police corruption, saying, “There is no need to investigate when the department has a commissioner like Ray Kelly.”

November. Giuliani and Sarah Palin finalize their talk show agenda. Asked about news reports concerning her pregnant daughter’s missing boyfriend. Palin says, “No matter how far that boy roams, he can never escape being part of our family.” Giuliani refuses to say whether his daughter Caroline is speaking to him.

December. The day his trial begins. Kerik stands outside the White Plains courthouse, singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Suddenly a stretch limousine appears and out leaps John Picciano. Two FBI agents whisk him into the courthouse through a side entrance. Before vanishing, Picciano calls out to Kerik, “I don’t know how they found me, boss.” His hand still on his heart, Kerik cries out, “Et tu, Pitch?”

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Copyright © 2008 Leonard Levitt