|Minister of the Interior of Iraq|
May 18, 2003 - September 2, 2003
|Chief Executive||Paul Bremer|
|Police Commissioner of New York City|
August 21, 2000 - December 31, 2001
|Correction Commissioner of the New York City Department of Correction|
Bernard Bailey Kerik
Newark, New Jersey, U.S.
(m. 1978; div. 1983)
(m. 1983; div. 1992)
Hala Matli (m. 1998)
|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 former police officer, consultant, and convicted felon.
Born in Newark, New Jersey, he served in the United States Army from 1974 to 1977. He then worked various law enforcement jobs in the United States and abroad, joining the New York 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 his 2000-01 tenure as New York City Police Commissioner, during which he oversaw the police response to the September 11 attacks.
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 illegal immigrant as a nanny. His admission touched off state and federal investigations as a result of which in 2006 Kerik pleaded guilty in Bronx Supreme Court to two unrelated ethics violations (unclassified misdemeanors) and was ordered to pay $221,000 in fines. Kerik then pleaded guilty in 2009 in the Southern District of New York to eight federal charges, including tax fraud and false statements, and on February 18, 2010, was sentenced to four years in federal prison.
Kerik was born in Newark, New Jersey, the son of Patricia Joann (Bailey) and Donald Raymond Kerik Sr. 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 1974 to 1977, Kerik served in the U.S. Army Military Police Corps. He was stationed in Korea as a military police sentry dog handler and to the XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, assuming military police duties and teaching hand-to-hand combat to special operations and Special Forces personnel at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School.
Kerik was honorably discharged from the army in July 1977 and worked briefly for the Interstate Revenue Research Center, Indianapolis, Indiana, as an investigator before joining the Morrison Knudsen Saudi Arabia Consortium (MKSAC) in April 1978, where he was employed as a security officer at the King Khalid Military City in Hafar Al-Batin, Saudi Arabia, for nearly two-and-a-half years. Upon his return, he worked for the Cumberland County, North Carolina sheriff's office, in the patrol division and later for the City-County Bureau of Narcotics.
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 July 1986, Kerik joined the New York City Police Department and was assigned to uniformed and plain-clothes duty in the 14th Precinct in Brooklyn and in the Midtown South patrol sector (Times Square). He was later transferred to the narcotics division as an undercover in Harlem, Spanish Harlem, and Washington Heights and was promoted to detective in September 1990. In 1991 he was assigned to the United States Department of Justice, New York Drug Enforcement Task Force, Group T-43 until he was transferred to the Intelligence Division in February 1994, where he worked on the protective detail for then-mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.
In May 1994, Kerik was appointed to the New York City Department of Correction as the director of the Investigations Division and was later transferred to the commissioner's office as executive assistant to the commissioner, and in January 1995 he was appointed by Mayor Giuliani as the first deputy commissioner of the department.
In January 1998, Kerik became commissioner of the New York City Department of Correction. As corrections commissioner, he was responsible for an annual budget of $835 million, a civilian and uniformed workforce of 13,000, and 133,000 annual inmate admissions in the department's 16 jails, 15 court detention pens, and four hospital prison wards, including Rikers Island.
He was credited with the creation of the Total Efficiency Accountability Management System (TEAMS), a management analysis and accountability program that placed as a finalist for the Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government Award, for Innovations in American Government for year 2000. Through TEAMS, the department witnessed historic performance gains in virtually all areas of jail operations as a result of many new initiatives in violence reduction, overtime reduction, modernization of security equipment, an absence rate analysis program, and others.
During his tenure, the department developed a Gang intelligence unit and gang tracking database, networking with local, state, and federal authorities across the country. Inmate violence--defined as inmate-on-inmate stabbing and slashing incidents--were reduced by 93 percent from FY 1995 to FY 1999. Similarly, overtime spending in FY 1999 decreased 45 percent from FY 1995 and the uniform sick rate dropped for the same period by 25 percent. These achievements occurred during a period when the inmate population rose to record levels, from 110,410 admissions in FY 1994 to 133,000 in FY 1999, a 25 percent increase.
In December 1997, he was also appointed by the mayor to the New York City Gambling Control Commission.
Giuliani appointed Kerik the 40th Police Commissioner of New York City on August 21, 2000.
Giuliani gave much of the credit for a drop in 2001 crime to Kerik, saying that "Commissioner Kerik took over a police department that was leading the country in crime declines, and somehow he was able to figure out how to create even more crime reduction and to do that against a national trend in which crime is going up in much of the rest of the country." Known in the department as the "beat-cop commissioner," Kerik frequently cruised the city at night with a security detail composed of cops who had been in shootouts, dangled from rooftops, hit by bullets, raced into burning buildings, and seen their partners die. 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. As police commissioner, Kerik served on the terrorism committee with the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the Criminal Justice Advisory Board for St. John's University.
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. Kerik served 16 months as commissioner, leaving office at the end of Giuliani's term on December 31, 2001.
Following his departure from the New York City Police Department, he was employed by Giuliani Partners, a consulting firm formed by the former mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani. He served as a 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 His Majesty 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 & Tobago and Mexico City, Mexico.
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.
On December 3, 2004, Kerik was nominated by President Bush to succeed Tom Ridge as United States Secretary of Homeland Security. 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.
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, and was sentenced to forty-eight months in federal prison and three years' supervised release (probation). Mr. Kerik was represented in the matter by notable NYC 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 earned 30 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, downing the suspect. Other medals included 1 Honorable Mention, 5 Commendations, 10 Meritorious Police Duty, and 13 Excellent Police Duty medals. 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 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 mother and daughter 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.