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The Hypocrisy of Bernie Kerik, the Hypocrisy of a Broken System of Justice

By       Message Barry Sussman     Permalink
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The Bush White House was embarrassed by the Kerik debacle and the finger pointing soon began. "When you believe you are invulnerable, you will always take a step too far, and this was it," said one unnamed source. Political strategist Marshall Wittman said, "The most cursory checking would have shown this guy has more skeletons than a haunted house." Even Giuliani publicly severed his business ties with Kerik as rumors of pending federal charges began to circulate.  

The rumors proved to be true. On November 8, 2007, Kerik was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy, fraud, and making false statements. Prosecutors say Kerik received free renovations to his home from a company seeking to do business with the city of New York. This income was then concealed from the Internal Revenue Service.  The indictment also charged that Kerik made several false statements to White House and other officials during the nomination process for Secretary of Homeland Security.

On October 20, 2009, Kerik's bail was revoked after he was found to have violated the terms of his bail conditions by releasing information that was under seal.  While angrily revoking Kerik's $500,000 bail, USDJ Stephen C. Robinson delivering what the NY Times called "a withering criticism of Mr. Kerik from the bench, describing him as a 'toxic combination of self-minded focus and arrogance.'" 

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USDJ Stephen Robinson, a George W. Bush appointee, surprised Kerik with a sentence that was nearly twice that called for by the federal Sentencing Guidelines 


On November 5, 2009, Kerik pleaded guilty to eight felony counts. The offenses were likely to result in a sentence of a little more than two years under the federal Sentencing Guidelines, but District Judge Robinson sentenced Kerik to four years, departing from the guidelines, because of what the judge called "the almost operatic proportions of this case." Kerik was ordered to serve his sentence at the federal prison camp at Cumberland, MD.

It is interesting to note that prior to Kerik's entanglement in the federal criminal justice system, he was a staunch law and order type who parlayed his "toughness" on crime into a lucrative career that included a best-selling book and speaking tours. He reflexively defended the most egregious aspects of the criminal justice system and harbored a noticeable disdain for the rights of the accused. During his time as New York City's police commissioner, Kerik was fond of citing the events of 9/11 as justification for various transgressions committed by his police force. 

But now having become ensnared within the same criminal justice system he helped perpetuate, Kerik has a decidedly different view. During an interview on November 1, 2013, Kerik proclaimed, "the prison system is broken." He went on to explain how a ridiculously small amount of drugs can trigger federal mandatory minimum sentences. Kerik criticized federal mandatory minimum sentencing for putting people away for 10 years for 5 grams of cocaine, handing the interviewer a nickel to emphasize how little is required to trigger a 10 year sentence. "I was with men sentenced to ten years in prison for five grams of cocaine. That's insane, that's insane," he said. "These young men, they come into the prison system, first-time, non-violent offense, a low-level drug offense. The system is supposed to help them, not destroy them," Kerik observed during his nationally televised interview. 

Ever the self-promoter, Kerik continued his interview by observing, "No one in the history of our country has ever been in the system with my background, no one...You have to be on the other side of the bars. You have to see what it's like to be a victim of the system, so to speak. There's no way to do that from the other side," he said.

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Kerik's metamorphosis from his tenure as the corrupt head of the New York City Department of Corrections and police commissioner of Rudy Giuliani's particularly thuggish ("it's Giuliani time") NYPD is truly remarkable.   Kerik not only exemplified the no-nonsense, law and order police official, he continually upped the ante by playing on his phony tough guy, crime fighter image. 


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Like so many other police officials, Kerik used the events of 9/11 to justify the misdeeds of his department


 

Kerik's crafter persona, however, was belied by his actions. His well-documented affair with publishing editor Judith Regan exemplifies Kerik's opportunism. Kerik, following Giuliani's shameless lead, brazenly used the attack on 9/11 for self-promotion. While publicly obtaining from a wealthy real estate developer an apartment near ground zero to be used by rescue personnel, Kerik commandeered the apartment for his own personal use. Specifically, it was used by Kerik to carry on his illicit affair with Regan, who would go on to publish Kerik's hagiographic autobiography, the Lost Son. 


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Publisher Judith Regan carried on an illicit affair with Kerik and was later reportedly urged by Roger Ailes of Fox News to keep the details of their affair secret from federal investigators


 

Nevertheless, it is undeniable that despite its opportunistic overtones, Kerik's current stance on America's insidious criminal "justice system is one of enlightenment, common among those who have been through the archipelago of the federal prison system.   Kerik's conversion must, however, be tempered with the knowledge that like so many others entrusted with the administration of justice, he is a man who alternatively brutally enforced and cavalierly skirted the law. For those with this cynical and hypocritical mindset, the law is merely an opportunity, and gives rise to the adage that in the American legal system, the issue is not what you did but who you are.  

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Barry Scott Sussman- Born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated from Rutgers University with a BA in Sociology. Graduated with a JD from the Benjamin Cardozo School of Law specializing in Federal Criminal Procedure and Federal Prosecutorial (more...)
 

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