Hats Off to Judith
February 28, 2011
No man [or woman for that matter] should tangle with Judith Regan.
In her amazing yet tortured career, she has done as much as any federal prosecutor to expose the crimes of Bernard Bailey Kerik, the city’s 40th police commissioner.
And she has done as much as any liberal Democrat to scuttle the political hopes of Kerik’s former boss, Rudy Giuliani.
She has also forced perhaps the most powerful man on this planet, Mr. Rupert Murdoch, to retract his spurious claim against her of anti-Semitism, while forcing him to fork over $10 million after he fired her on such trumped up charges.
The latest gentleman in Regan’s crosshairs is Roger Ailes, who is chairman of Murdoch’s Fox News Channel and supposedly Giuliani’s close friend.
If Regan’s past is prelude, Roger won’t be sleeping very well for a while.
Let’s begin with Kerik, with whom Regan conducted a brief, tempestuous affair in 2001.
Just six weeks after 9/ll, Regan, under her own imprint at Murdoch’s Harper-Collins books, published The Lost Son, Kerik’s loose-with-the-facts autobiography.
Capitalizing on his role as NYPD commissioner, Regan turned The Lost Son into a best-seller and helped turn Kerik into an international celebrity.
But after Kerik broke his promise to leave his wife and then began stalking Regan and allegedly her son, lubricious tidbits about their relationship appeared in the Daily News, chronicled by reporter Russ Buettner. Buettner’s description of Kerik’s penthouse love nest, overlooking Ground Zero — which Kerik shared simultaneously with Regan and another girlfriend, Jeanette Pineiro — can’t be beat.
Kerik’s reputation was destroyed before he was even indicted on corruption charges. He is now serving a four-year prison sentence.
In helping to knock Kerik off his 9/ll pedestal, Regan dealt a glancing blow to Giuliani — who can never satisfactorily explain why, instead of the department’s 30-year veteran and then Chief of Department Joe Dunne, he appointed as police commissioner a third-grade detective with only seven years NYPD experience and a history of financial problems.
Giuliani, who began 2008 as the Republican front-runner for president, ended up with only one delegate. While Kerik was but a small reason for his flop, you can bet that if Giuliani ever runs for anything again, the city’s 40th police commissioner will become one large albatross.
As for Mr. Murdoch, God only knows what he was smoking when he fired Regan, who was making him a small fortune. People whom she had crossed at HarperCollins — Judith ain’t no powder puff — piled on, culminating with the preposterous charge of anti-Semitism.
That charge wounded her more deeply than one might imagine. Seemingly bewildered, she said at the time, “How am I supposed to fight something like that?”
But fight she did. She sued Murdoch and HarperCollins, alleging that the true reason for her dismissal was that she had refused the directive of a Murdoch “senior official” to lie about her affair with Kerik to federal investigators, who were vetting him for Director of Homeland Security.
In the end, she won a settlement of more than $10 million. She also forced Murdoch and HarperCollins to state specifically that she was not an anti-Semite.
Last Friday, Buettner, now with the Times, reported that documents from a related Regan lawsuit reveal that the “senior official” was Ailes, allegedly acting to protect Giuliani.
The Times quoted Murdoch spokeswoman, Teri Everett, as saying that Murdoch’s News Corporation had a letter from Regan “stating that Mr. Ailes did not intend to influence her with respect to a government investigation.”
“The matter is closed,” said Everett.
In the interests of full disclosure, let us state that Regan published Your Humble Servant’s book, “Conviction: Solving the Moxley Murder” in 2004. It won the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar award for fact-based crime the following year.
Regan has also discussed her relationship with Kerik and parts of her lawsuit with this reporter, some of which were detailed in the 2009 book, “NYPD Confidential.”
But she never mentioned the taped phone call from Ailes or her letter, supposedly absolving him.
Everett may think the matter is closed. But if Ailes didn’t intend to influence Regan, why the need for a letter?
Sources say the prime mover is Chief of Detectives Phil Pulaski, whose ego is on the inner edge of out of control.
In the early 2000s, before becoming Chief of Detectives, he headed the NYPD side of the Joint Terrorist Task Force. But, says sources, he did not have a very good experience with the FBI.
“When he joined the JTTF, he told FBI managers that they now worked for him,” said a police source
His experience worsened after he took home a federal laptop computer filled with classified information. The result was an internal investigation that no doubt contributed to his leaving the task force.
While Pulaski, who did not return a call from this reporter, may be out front in seeking to disband the task force, let’s remember that nothing occurs in the NYPD without the imprimatur of Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
As this column has reported over the past decade, Kelly also has little love for the FBI. And his ego is even farther out of control than Pulaski’s.
Well, like his DA counterparts in the city’s four other boroughs, Hynes earns $190,000 a year.
Vecchione, an assistant district attorney, earns $189,000.
A federal judge last year freed Collins, who served 16 years in prison for the 1994 murder of a rabbi.
Federal judge Dora Irizarry based her decision on what she said was “compelling evidence” that the DA’s office “had wrongfully withheld a key witness’s recantation, had knowingly coerced and relied on false testimony and argument at trial, had knowingly suppressed exculpatory and impeachment evidence and had acted affirmatively to cover up such misconduct for 15 years.”
She called such conduct by the DA’s office “shameful.”
Collins’s lawsuit says Vecchione “orchestrated the 15-year cover up of the office’s misconduct.”
Oh, and Vecchione isn’t the only highflyer on Hynes’s payroll. Check out Chief Rackets Investigator Joseph Ponzi — not named in the lawsuit — who in 2009 earned $179,967.
Was he bounced because of the detectives’ treatment? Who can say? But Haas — who did not return a phone call from this reporter — can now be found at the Detective Borough of Manhattan.
Copyright © 2011 Leonard Levitt