One Police Plaza

Serious legal trouble unlikely for Kerik

February 11, 2005

Bernard Kerik may have used corrections officers to provide security at his wedding. He may have been given the free use of a Ground Zero apartment to bring his girlfriends. But according to a top city law enforcement official, there appears to be no serious criminality he can be charged with in either case.

According to the official, who asked for anonymity, the city's Department of Investigation is reviewing whether Kerik failed to disclose gifts of over $1,000 to the City's Conflict of Interest Board. Such lack of disclosure is only a potential misdemeanor and becomes a felony only if it is done with intent to defraud, the official said.

If Kerik didn't have to pay rent for the Battery Park City apartment (no one has produced canceled checks as proof otherwise), this might be considered "imputed income," which could be taxable.

"It would depend on how often he used it; if he had exclusive use of it; if he visited it once a week," the official said. "Unless the issue is clear cut, no one will find it a compelling case."

The department also is investigating the circumstance of Kerik's failure to fill out his background form before becoming police commissioner.

"They were playing by Rudy's rules then," the official said.

Wall of Heroes. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has finally agreed to honor the 60-odd cops discovered to have died in the line of duty in the 19th century. Their names will be added to the Wall of Heroes in the lobby of One Police Plaza in a ceremony in May. Retired sergeant Mike Bosak discovered them, then spent eight years fighting for department approval. Lt. Mike McGrath of the Personnel Bureau came up with another three dozen. Congratulations to both.

Siberia. This column comes to you from exile.

A week ago, this columnist's building pass to One Police Plaza was revoked. This came a day after Chief Michael Collins, the commanding officer of the department's Public Information Office, asked me to voluntarily relinquish it, saying there was a question about my status as a reporter. I refused.

Pressed by my superiors, Paul Browne, deputy commissioner for public information, said that because this writer accepted a buyout offer from Newsday in December and now writes under a contract agreement, I can no longer easily come and go to One Police Plaza. The building that is technically owned by the people of New York, for whom I write these weekly columns.

After my pass was taken away by a security officer, I was provided with a "minder" - a term from Saddam Hussein's Iraq describing the Iraqi guides assigned to foreign reporters. Mine was Sgt. Kevin Hayes, who materialized from the Public Information Office. He informed me I would be restricted to the corner of the second-floor's gulag of press offices known as "The Shack."

Leaving it required a pre-approved appointment - even to go to the 13th floor, where the public information office is located - and would also require an escort. Hayes, however, proved generous. I was allowed to take the elevator unescorted to the ninth-floor cafeteria for a Coke.

On Background. Earlier this week, Browne said the 20 to 25 reporters assigned full-time to Police Plaza would be subjected to background checks in exchange for the building passes.

An official of the Public Information Office explained that the department was concerned "only with convictions for murder and computer tampering." Rest assured, readers, Your Humble Servant is guilty of neither.

©2005 Newsday, Inc.Reprinted with permission.