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The Joe and Bernie Show [Con't]

June 2, 2014

So who’s lying, celebrity attorney Joe Tacopina or former NYPD Commissioner Bernie Kerik?

Did Tacopina, as Kerik alleges in a lawsuit against him, give him such bad legal advice that Kerik was forced a year later to plead guilty to eight felony counts in federal court, leading to three years in prison?

Did Tacopina abandon Kerik and meet secretly with federal prosecutors to provide evidence against Kerik because the feds were investigating Tacopina, as Kerik alleges?

And what about attorney Ronald Fischetti, Tacopina’s longtime mentor and friend? Did Tacopina, as Kerik also alleges, try to entrap Fischetti in a fee-splitting scheme to take the heat off himself?

Or, as Tacopina’s attorney put it: Did Kerik spent three years in federal prison in Cumberland, Maryland, mistakenly convinced that Tacopina was the cause of his woes?

Kerik sued Tacopina earlier this year, claiming negligence and malpractice. Tacopina countersued for defamation, seeking $5 million.

Last week,Kerik upped the ante when he called in reporters to make his case and then filed an amended complaint against Tacopina.

Kerik claims his troubles began in June 2006, when Tacopina convinced him that pleading guilty to two misdemeanors — including accepting $165,000 in free renovations to his Riverdale apartment from a firm seeking a city contract while Kerik was corrections commissioner — would end his legal problems.

Instead, Kerik says the feds used the guilty plea as a basis to indict him a year later on 16 counts of conspiracy, tax fraud, and lying to the White House during his failed Homeland Security nomination in 2005.

The feds then disqualified Tacopina as Kerik’s attorney, claiming they might call him as a witness against Kerik.

Documents obtained by NYPD Confidential show that Tacopina, apparently at Kerik’s direction, told former Bronx Chief Assistant District Attorney Barry Kluger that the renovations only cost $50,000 and that Kerik himself paid for them. Kluger, now the MTA’s inspector general, did not return calls.

Suspecting Tacopina had helped Kerik launder money with the help of a person whose initials were “RF,” the feds went through Tacopina’s business records in March 2007, and discovered tens of thousands of dollars in checks made out to cash to “RF,” Kerik says.

Tacopina told the feds the checks were referral fees for Fischetti, who told this reporter a couple of years ago that Tacopina had worn a wire to secretly record him.

No charges were brought against Tacopina or Fischetti, who now refuses to discuss the case.

Kerik says that, on Nov. 5, 2007, Tacopina informed him that federal prosecutors “were in the process of destroying his law practice and that he thought he was going to lose his license.”

Kerik was indicted three days later.

Kerik also says that between Dec. 6, 2007 to Jan. 23, 2008, Tacopina met with the feds three times and “divulged Kerik’s alleged conversations with him related to the Bronx case that are considered privileged or nonbinding under the law.”

Last Tuesday, Kerik played a tape recording for reporters of an alleged telephone call Tacopina had made to him on Dec. 9, 2007, a month after Kerik’s federal indictment.Tacopina had denied ever making such a call.

The call did not involve Kerik’s federal indictment but, rather, a separate real estate venture with an Italian businessman who was Tacopina’s client. Kerik also claims Tacopina stiffed him on a promised $1.5 million finder’s fee from the venture.

Kerik told reporters he recorded the call because he no longer trusted Tacopina and believed he was working for the feds.

Kerik’s attorney, Tim Parlatore, told reporters Tacopina lacked credibility because he was a serial philanderer who repeatedly lied to his wife. If a man lies to someone as close as his wife, said Parlatore, how can you believe anything he says?

While serving as the NYPD’s 40th commissioner, Kerik wrote a book called “The Lost Son.” As the book rose toward the best-seller list, the thrice-married Kerik carried on a public affair with his publisher, Judith Regan.

Regan said Kerik promised to leave his wife and that he and Regan had gone to look for apartments together.

“He would lie in my arms and tell me how guilty he felt,” she said in 2002. “It was all an act. I think he could cry on cue.”

Regan later revealed that, in the aftermath of 9/11, Kerik had used a penthouse apartment overlooking Ground Zero provided by the Milstein Properties, a real estate firm, to entertain her and his Corrections Department sweetheart, Jeanette Pineiro.

So much for the credibility of philanderers.

A couple of hours after meeting with reporters last week, Kerik filed an amended complaint before U.S. District Court Judge John Koetl.

Tacopina’s attorney, Judd Burstein, maintained that Kerik lacks credibility because he admitted lying in his guilty plea in federal court in 2009. If a man admits lying when pleading guilty, said Burstein, how can you believe anything he says?

Outside the courtroom, Burstein added that Kerik had stewed in federal prison for three years believing Tacopina was the source of his troubles.

“The best con man is someone who can convince himself of things he is lying about,” Burstein said.

Burstein added that the negative publicity from Kerik was actually good publicity for Tacopina — as in any publicity is good publicity.

Tacopina did not appear to agree.

Back in March this reporter emailed some questions to him, including whether the feds had investigated him during his representation of Kerik, Tacopina emailed back:

“The feds investigation of me? As I said you don't know what you are talking about and you don't know the facts. I am done with the back and forth but you are on notice that if you write that the feds "investigated" me on your blog you are knowingly writing something that is false.”

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