Judge tacks on 15 extra months to agreed-upon sentence

The former "top cop" in New York City will be viewing life from the other side for a spell.

Bernard Kerik was sentenced to four years in federal prison, after admitting "last year that he lied to the White House while being vetted for chief of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security," and then pleading "guilty to tax fraud and six other felonies," the Associated Press reports.

"Since his November guilty plea, the 54-year-old Kerik had been under house arrest in Franklin Lakes, N.J.," the AP adds.

NBC News in New York reports, "Kerik, who can voluntarily surrender, will report to jail on May 17."

"I make no excuses and take full responsibility for my grave mistakes," Kerik told the court. " I know I deserve punishment...I hope to return to be with my wife and girls as soon as possible."

At one point, the former police chief faced 142 years in jail and fines of almost five million dollars if convicted on all the charges. After he pleaded guilty to eight counts, he was staring at a potential maximum sentence of 61 years.

"The sentencing was the end of a legal saga in which federal prosecutors denounced Mr. Kerik, a former detective who rose to the upper echelons of power, as a corrupt official who sought to trade his authority for lavish perks," Sam Dolnick reports for The New York Times.

Under the terms of a plea agreement reached in November on the eve of his trial, the prosecution and the defense recommended that Judge Stephen C. Robinson sentence Mr. Kerik to 27 to 33 months in prison. But the judge departed from the sentencing recommendations, giving Mr. Kerik a longer sentence.

"The fact that Mr. Kerik would use that event (9/11) for personal gain and aggrandizement is a dark place in the soul for me," Judge Robinson said during the trial, The NY Daily News reports.

Kerik was accused of secretly accepting more than 250,000 dollars in renovations to his apartment from a construction firm with suspected mafia ties while he was Corrections Department commissioner under former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Kerik, who pleaded guilty in a state court in 2008 to accepting the work, was also accused of not declaring a total of 236,000 dollars in rent he received on an luxury apartment in New York's posh Upper East Side.

Other payments allegedly not declared included a total of 100,000 dollars received from a software company and a book publisher.

Kerik, who once served as Giuliani's chauffeur and bodyguard, rose through the ranks of the police department to become police commissioner, enjoying hero status in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

He went on to help train Iraq's fledgling police force after the US-led invasion in 2003.

As Salon noted in 2007, former ReganBooks Publisher Judith Regan "and the married Kerik had a well-publicized yearlong affair. Their assignations often took place in a lower Manhattan apartment that had been specifically reserved for the use of workers in the aftermath of 9/11."

Last October, as RAW STORY reported, a television anchor accidentally referred to Kerik as "top cock" instead of former "top cop."

"WABC 'Eyewitness News' viewers were all atwitter Tuesday night over Bill Ritter's accidental, off-color description of Bernard Kerik," New York's Daily News reports. (Video can be viewed at the original RAW STORY link)

Huffington Post noted that Ritter "quickly corrected himself after the curse, but in the age of YouTube and TIVO, the damage was already done."

Huffington Post's Dave Weiner added, "No word on if Ritter will be reprimanded for the slip, but it's a safe bet that he still had a better day than the now-jailed Kerik."

The Daily News elicited an apology from Ritter: "I stumbled. It was a quick mistake, and I corrected it immediately."

(with AFP reports)