|Minister of the Interior of Iraq|
May 18, 2003 – September 2, 2003
|Chief Executive||Paul Bremer|
|Preceded by||Mahmud Dhiyab|
|Succeeded by||Nuri Badran|
|Police Commissioner of New York City|
August 21, 2000 – December 31, 2001
|Appointed by||Rudy Giuliani|
|Preceded by||Howard Safir|
|Succeeded by||Raymond Kelly|
|Correction Commissioner of the New York City Department of Correction|
|Appointed by||Rudy Giuliani|
|Preceded by||Michael Jacobsen|
|Succeeded by||Gary Lanigan|
Bernard Bailey Kerik
September 4, 1955
Newark, New Jersey, U.S.
(m. 1978; div. 1983)
(m. 1983; div. 1992)
|Education||Empire State College (BS)|
|Branch/service||United States Army|
|Years of service||1974–1977|
Bernard Bailey Kerik (born September 4, 1955) is an American consultant and former police officer who served as the 40th Commissioner of the New York Police Department from 2000 to 2001. A former convicted felon, he obtained a presidential pardon for his numerous ethics violations in 2020.
Kerik joined the New York City Police Department (NYPD) in 1986. He is perhaps best known for his 1998–2000 tenure as commissioner of the New York City Department of Correction and 2000–2001 tenure as New York City Police Commissioner, during which he oversaw the police response to the September 11 attacks. Kerik conducted two extramarital affairs simultaneously, using a Battery Park City apartment that had been set aside for first responders at ground zero.
After the 2003 invasion of Iraq, President George W. Bush appointed Kerik as the interior minister of the Iraqi Coalition Provisional Authority. In 2004, Bush nominated Kerik to lead the Department of Homeland Security. However, Kerik soon withdrew his candidacy, explaining that he had employed an undocumented immigrant as a nanny. His admission touched off state and federal investigations. In 2006, Kerik pleaded guilty in the Bronx Supreme Court to two unrelated misdemeanor ethics violations and was ordered to pay $221,000 in fines. In 2009, Kerik pleaded guilty in the Southern District of New York to eight federal felony charges; in February 2010, he was sentenced to four years in federal prison. On February 18, 2020, President Donald Trump granted Kerik a full pardon. On November 7, 2020, Kerik stood behind Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, during the Four Seasons Total Landscaping press conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Early life and education
Kerik was born in Newark, New Jersey, the son of Patricia Joann (Bailey) and Donald Raymond Kerik Sr. His mother was Irish American. His paternal grandfather emigrated from Russia to a coal-mining town in Pennsylvania and changed his surname from Kapurik to Kerik. Kerik was raised Catholic and grew up in Paterson, New Jersey. He attended Eastside High School in Paterson, and dropped out in 1972. In July 1974, he enlisted in the United States Army and received a General Educational Development (GED) certificate from the State of North Carolina while assigned to Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
From December 1981 to October 1982 and then July 1984 to July 1986, Kerik worked at the Passaic County sheriff's office, in New Jersey. He served as the department's training officer and commander of the special weapons and operations, and ultimately chief and warden of the Passaic County jail.
Kerik worked from 1982 to 1984 as chief of investigations for the security division of the King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Six members of the hospital security staff, including Kerik, were fired and deported after an investigation in 1984 by the Saudi secret police. In his autobiography, Kerik wrote that he was expelled after a physical altercation with a Saudi secret police interrogator; however, in 2004, after his nomination as Secretary of Homeland Security, nine former employees of the hospital told The Washington Post that Kerik worked with a hospital administrator to surveil people's private affairs, leading to a scandal partly based on Feteih's use of "the institution's security staff to track the private lives of several women with whom he was romantically involved, and men who came in contact with them."
Kerik joined the New York City Police Department in 1986. He first met Rudolph W. Giuliani in 1990, and during the 1993 New York City mayoral election campaign, served as Giuliani's bodyguard and driver. He joined the New York City Department of Corrections in 1994, and enjoyed a series of promotions with Giuliani's backing. He was credited with reducing violence among the city's jail inmates. Giuliani appointed Kerik commissioner of the city Department of Corrections, a post he served in from 1998 to 2000.
Giuliani appointed Kerik the 40th Police Commissioner of New York City on August 21, 2000. Giuliani made the appointment against the advice of the outgoing police commissioner and many members of Giuliani's cabinet. Kerik's critics noted that he did not have a college degree, which at the time was a requirement for police officers to advance to the rank of captain and above.
As police commissioner, Kerik had a tense relationship with the FBI, in part because he criticized federal agencies for not sharing enough intelligence with local police. Although crime in New York dropped during Kerik's tenure, he was sometimes criticized for abuse of power. The New York Times reported that: "Behind the scenes Mr. Kerik ruled like a feudal lord, many former employees have said. He had taken up with a woman who was a correction officer; he was accused of directing officers to staff his wedding. He befriended the agency's inspector general, whose watchdog responsibilities require keeping an arm's-length relationship, and the investigator attended his wedding." On one occasion, Kerik sent homicide investigators to interview and fingerprint a number of Fox News employees whom Kerik's publisher, Judith Regan, suspected of stealing a necklace and mobile phone. During his time as police commissioner he made five arrests, including one involving two ex-convicts—one a paroled killer, wanted for a carjacking at gunpoint in Virginia—for allegedly driving a stolen van in Harlem. Kerik was serving as police commissioner during the September 11 attacks. He was in his office when American Airlines Flight 11 hit the North Tower. He arrived at the base of the North Tower three minutes before United Airlines Flight 175 hit the South Tower, showering him and his staff with debris as Giuliani, Kerik, and their top aides were trapped inside a building at 75 Barclay Street. The September 11 attacks gave Kerik a national profile. Kerik served 16 months as commissioner, leaving office on December 31, 2001, at the end of Giuliani's term.
Return to private sector
Following his departure from the New York City Police Department, he was employed by Giuliani Partners, a consulting firm formed by Giuliani. He was senior vice president at Giuliani Partners and as chief executive officer of Giuliani–Kerik LLC, an affiliate of Giuliani Partners. Kerik resigned from these positions in December 2004. In March 2005 he created The Kerik Group LLC, where he served as chairman until June 2009, consulting in crisis management and risk mitigation, counterterrorism and law enforcement, and jail/prison management strategies. He has served as an adviser and consultant to King Abdullah II of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and to President Bharrat Jagdeo of the Republic of Guyana. He has overseen threat and vulnerability assessments for a ruling family in the United Arab Emirates and has also worked on crime reduction and national security strategies in Trinidad and Tobago.
Interim Minister of Interior of Iraq
In May 2003, during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Kerik was appointed by the George W. Bush administration as interim Interior Minister of Iraq and senior policy adviser to U.S. presidential envoy to Iraq, Paul Bremer. When Kerik arrived in Iraq the Ministry of Interior did not exist, having collapsed and dissolved during the U.S.–led coalition's invasion of Iraq. Kerik was responsible for restructuring and rebuilding the ministry and all its constituent parts: the national police, intelligence service, and border and customs police, as well as choosing the officials who would take control of these institutions when he left. Prior to Kerik's departure from Iraq on September 2, 2003, more than 35,000 Iraqi police were reinstated, 35 police stations were stood up in Baghdad with several more around the country, the senior deputy interior ministers were appointed, and the newly established governing council appointed the first Iraqi minister of interior, post–Saddam Hussein, Nuri Badran. A United Nations UNODC fact-finding mission report dated May 18, 2003 at the beginning of his term, noted that Kerik's team made "positive interventions in a number of areas."
During his tenure as Interior Minister of Iraq Bernard Kerik secretly accepted and failed to report a $250,000 interest free "loan" from Israeli billionaire Eitan Wertheimer, a gift later determined to be a bribe for which he was indicted by the US federal government and sentenced to prison. Precisely what Wertheimer expected to receive in return for the money is an open question.
Nomination as U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security
On December 3, 2004, Kerik was nominated by President Bush to succeed Tom Ridge as United States Secretary of Homeland Security. Incoming Attorney General Alberto Gonzales vetted Kerik during that nomination period. But on December 10, after a week of press scrutiny, Kerik withdrew acceptance of the nomination. Kerik stated that he had unknowingly hired an undocumented worker as a nanny and housekeeper. Similar violations of immigration law had previously caused the withdrawal of the nominations of Linda Chavez as secretary of labor by George W. Bush and of Zoë Baird and Kimba Wood for attorney general by President Bill Clinton.
Shortly after withdrawing his name from consideration, Kerik became the target of a New York State grand jury investigation by the Bronx District Attorney's Office, and later, the United States Attorney's Office.
Criminal investigation and convictions
After an 18-month-long grand jury investigation conducted by the Bronx District Attorney's Office, Kerik pleaded guilty in Bronx Supreme Court on June 30, 2006 to two ethics violations (unclassified misdemeanors). Kerik acknowledged that during the time he was Interior Minister of Iraq, he accepted a $250,000 interest-free "loan" from Israeli billionaire Eitan Wertheimer and failed to report it. Kerik first met the billionaire, whose vast holdings include major defense contractors, when Kerik took a four-day trip to Israel less than two weeks before September 11, 2001 to discuss counter-terrorism with Israeli officials.
On November 8, 2007, Kerik was indicted by a federal grand jury in White Plains, New York on charges of tax fraud, and making false statements to the federal government about the $250,000 he received from Wertheimer. Prosecutors further accused Kerik of receiving about $236,000 from New York real estate mogul Steven C. Witkoff between 2001 and 2003. Some of the New York charges were dropped in December 2008, but Kerik was then re-indicted on the same charges in Washington, D.C.
On November 5, 2009, Kerik pleaded guilty to eight felony tax and false statement charges, specifically two counts of tax fraud, one count of making a false statement on a loan application, and five counts of making false statements. He was sentenced to forty-eight months in federal prison and three years' supervised release (probation). Kerik was represented by criminal defense attorney Michael F. Bachner. He surrendered to the U.S. minimum security prison camp in Cumberland, Maryland, on May 17, 2010. He was discharged from federal custody on October 15, 2013, and after serving five months' home confinement, his supervised release concluded in October 2016.
Kerik was granted a presidential pardon by Donald Trump on February 18, 2020. After Joe Biden's victory over Trump in the 2020 United States presidential election, Kerik spread unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud, alleging that Trump had actually won the election.
Awards and honors
Kerik earned 30 NYPD medals for excellent, meritorious, and heroic service, including the New York City Police Department Medal for Valor for his involvement in a gun battle in which his partner was shot and wounded and he and his team members returned fire. As a result of his work on and in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, he was honored by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II with an honorary appointment as Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE).
Kerik has received honorary doctorates from Michigan State University, New York Institute of Technology, Manhattanville College, College of New Rochelle, and Iona College, and he received the President's Medal from Hunter College.
Kerik's first child, a girl, was born in October 1975 when he was 20 and serving in South Korea as a military policeman. In February 1976, Kerik completed his tour of duty in South Korea and left his daughter and her mother behind. In his autobiography, Kerik called the episode "a mistake I will always regret, and I pray to God that one day I can make it right."
Kerik has been married three times. His first marriage was in August 1978; he and his wife were divorced in 1983. Kerik's second marriage lasted from September 1983 to July 1992; the marriage produced a son. Kerik's third marriage took place in 1998, and the couple had two daughters.
In March 2014, Kerik published his second book, From Jailer to Jailed: My Journey from Correction and Police Commissioner to Inmate 84888-054, documenting the 13 prior years of his life including his incarceration and personal observations of the U.S. criminal justice system.
Kerik was close friends with Lawrence V. "Larry" Ray, who was accused of running a sex cult at Sarah Lawrence College and was charged, in 2020, with extortion, forced prostitution and forced labor. Ray was the best man at Kerik's wedding before the two had a falling out in 2000, when Ray cooperated with the prosecution against his former friend. Kerik has since called Ray "a psychotic con man".
- Unsuccessful nominations to the Cabinet of the United States
- List of people pardoned or granted clemency by the president of the United States
- Trump Grants Clemency to Blagojevich, Milken and Kerik, The New York Times, February 18, 2020
- Apartment Said to Have Been Scene of a Kerik Affair, The New York Times, December 12, 2004
- Ed Shanahan, Bernard Kerik Was Pardoned by President Trump. Who Is He?, The New York Times (February 18, 2020).
- "Former N.Y.C. top cop Bernard Kerik gets four years in federal prison". New Jersey On-Line. Associated Press. February 18, 2010.
- Trump commutes sentence of ex-Gov. Blagojevich, pardons Kerik Fox News, February 18, 2020
- Disgraced NYPD commissioner Bernie Kerik attends Rudy Giuliani’s widely mocked ‘Four Seasons’ election press conference
- Kerik, Bernard B. (September 2002). The Lost Son: A Life in Pursuit of Justice. Harper. pp. 18–20. ISBN 0060508825.
- "KERIK A VETERAN OF MEAN STREETS A career forged in fighting crime". Daily News. New York. September 6, 2000. Archived from the original on June 4, 2011.
- via Associated Press. "Former NYPD top cop now asked to protect nation", USA Today, December 2, 2004. Accessed August 29, 2019. "Kerik, 49, grew up without knowing his birth mother, a tough kid in Paterson, N.J., where he usually cut classes from the trouble-filled Eastside High School later depicted in the 1989 film Lean on Me.... Kerik dropped out of high school, getting an equivalency degree, to join the Army, where he became a military policeman stationed in South Korea."
- "About Us". THE KERIK GROUP LLC. Archived from the original on May 30, 2018. Retrieved May 29, 2018.
- "Profile: Bernard Kerik". BBC News. October 22, 2009. Retrieved May 29, 2018.
- Mintz, John; Shackelford, Lucy (December 8, 2004). "Kerik's Surveillance Activity in Saudi Arabia Is Disputed". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 26, 2010.
- Bernard Kerik Fast Facts, CNN (last updated March 4, 2020).
- Michael Powell, Loyal to Kerik, Giuliani Missed Warning Signs, The New York Times (November 3, 2007).
- A Street Cop's Rise From High School Dropout to Cabinet Nominee, The New York Times (December 2, 2004).
- Eric Lipton, New Leader For the Police Fills a Need For Loyalty, The New York Times (August 21, 2000).
- Flynn, Kevin (March 26, 2001). "For Kerik, There's One Way To Run the Police, at a Sprint". The New York Times. Retrieved April 26, 2010.
- "Post-9/11 report recommends police, fire response changes". USA Today. Associated Press. August 19, 2002. Retrieved May 23, 2008.
- John Marzulli, Giuliani and Group of Top Cops Barely Dodged Death as Tower, New York Daily News (September 27, 2001).
- "Rudy Giuliani, Bernard Kerik on addressing racism and brutality in law enforcement". Fox News. June 6, 2020.
- Caribbean Net News: Kerik finally gets Guyana contract Archived June 22, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
- http://www.bestlifeonline.com/cms/publish/wealth/Bernie_Kerik_Wont_Fold.php Archived January 3, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
- Caribbean Net News: US crime fighter visits Trinidad for talks with local officials Archived August 30, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
- Guart, Al (September 3, 2003). "Kerik Close Call: Ex-City Top Cop Dodges Baghdad Bomb". New York Post.
- Lathem, Niles (August 3, 2003). "Guiding Iraq On A Road To Recovery: Experts & Officials Grade Postwar Effort". New York Post. Archived from the original on October 14, 2012.
- Waldman, Amy (June 30, 2003). "AFTER THE WAR: LAW ENFORCEMENT; U.S. Struggles to Transform A Tainted Iraqi Police Force". The New York Times. Retrieved April 26, 2010.
- "Kerik Loan Activity Is Brought to Light After Indictment". The New York Times.
- "No Skeletons in My Closet!". Village Voice. Retrieved November 9, 2007.
- Allen, Mike (December 15, 2004). "On Kerik Nomination, White House Missed Red Flags". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on December 16, 2004.
- "Billionaire Businessman Gave Kerik $250K 'Loan'". Talking Points Memo.
- "Former NYPD commissioner Kerik indicted". CNN. Retrieved May 27, 2009.
- "Kerik Confesses to Cheating I.R.S. and Telling Lies".
- Dolnik, Sam (February 18, 2010). "Kerik Is Sentenced in Corruption Case". The New York Times (NY/Region). Retrieved June 13, 2017.
- Baker, Peter; Haberman, Maggie; Shear, Michael D. (February 18, 2020). "Trump Commutes Corruption Sentence of Governor Rod Blagojevich of Illinois". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 18, 2020.
- Sommer, Will (November 9, 2020). "Infamous 'Hoax' Artist Behind Trumpworld's New Voter Fraud Claim". The Daily Beast. Retrieved November 9, 2020.
- "MSU's commencement speakers exemplars of service to nation, world - MSU News - Michigan State University". Retrieved May 29, 2018.
- Hunter Headlines — Hunter College
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- "CNN Live Saturday". CNN.com. December 11, 2004. Retrieved November 9, 2007.
- Buettner, Russ; Stowe, Stacey (October 12, 2007). "Bernard B. Kerik". The New York Times. Retrieved November 9, 2007.
- Drew, Christopher (November 9, 2001). "Sad Search By Kerik To Find His Mother; Family Secret Is Revealed In Autobiography". The New York Times. Retrieved April 26, 2010.
- "From Jailer to Jailed". January 12, 2016. Retrieved May 29, 2018.
- Ottoman, Sharon (February 12, 2020). "The Bizarre Life of the Man Accused in the Sarah Lawrence Sex Case". The New York Times. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
- Weiser, Benjamin; Rashbaum, William (February 11, 2020). "Sarah Lawrence Parent Accused of Sex Trafficking and Abusing Students". The New York Times. Retrieved February 11, 2020.
- This article was originally based on information from New York City's official website. http://www.ci.nyc.ny.us/html/om/html/2000b/pr332-00[permanent dead link]
- War Stories: Behind the Silver and Gold Shields, Thomas J. Ward, Bernard B. Kerik (Looseleaf Law Publications, 2002) ISBN 978-1-889031-58-3
- The Lost Son: A Life in Pursuit of Justice, Bernard B. Kerik (Regan Books, 2001) ISBN 978-0-06-000901-4 (autobiography) https://web.archive.org/web/20030702190401/http://www.seaburn.com/blackbooknews/biography.htm
- In the Line of Duty, Bernard B. Kerik (Regan Books, 2001)
- Imperial Life in the Emerald City, Rajiv Chandrasekaran
- Never Forget: An Oral History of September 11, 2001, Mitchell Fink and Lois Mathias (Regan Books, 2002)
- Leadership, Rudolph W. Giuliani (Miramax Books, 2002)
- The Cell: Inside the 9/11 Plot, and Why the FBI and CIA Failed to Stop It, John Miller, Michael Stone and Chris Mitchell
- My Year in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer III (Simon & Schuster 2006)
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| Police Commissioner of New York City
| Minister of the Interior of Iraq