Kerik rejects plea deal, could be indicted

Published April 1, 2007

Former New York City police Commissioner Bernard Kerik has rejected a plea deal offered by federal prosecutors pursuing multiple charges against him, most related to his failed bid to become Homeland Security secretary, the Associated Press reported Saturday.

Any indictments against Kerik could prove embarrassing to presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor who appointed Kerik police commissioner and recommended Kerik for the Homeland Security post.

The Associated Press, citing a person close to the investigation, reported prosecutors could indict Kerik on multiple felony counts, including tax evasion, conspiracy to eavesdrop and providing false information. Indictments are not believed to be imminent, according to the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is continuing.

Kerik's lawyer confirmed Saturday that he had turned down a plea bargain offer that included prison time because he "did nothing wrong."

"He paid his taxes. He is not going to plead to something he did not do," Kenneth Breen said.

The false information and tax evasion charges relate to Kerik's failed nomination for Homeland Security secretary, the person close to the investigation said. Kerik withdrew his nomination after acknowledging that he had not paid all taxes for a family nanny-housekeeper and that the woman may have been in the country illegally.

Giuliani, a leading candidate for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination, has acknowledged again that he made a mistake when he recommended Kerik for the homeland security job after the New York Times reported Giuliani was warned about Kerik's relationship with a company with suspected mob ties.

"I think I should have done a better job of investigating him, vetting him," Giuliani said Saturday. "It's my responsibility, and I've learned from it."

Giuliani, who spoke in Palm Beach County after addressing the conservative group Club for Growth, said questions about his ties to Kerik were justified.

"I've had a long career, maybe in some ways the longest and most complex of anyone running for president," Giuliani said. "That gives you some great successes and failures."