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Ex-N.Y. police official jailed
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) | An angry federal judge sent former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik to jail Tuesday for sharing secret pretrial information with a “propagandist” who Mr. Kerik claimed was really his lawyer.
Mr. Kerik will be forced to await his upcoming corruption trial behind bars. Judge Stephen Robinson found probable cause to think he was in contempt of court and revoked his $500,000 bail.
His attorneys said they did not know if Mr. Kerik, who has been New York City’s corrections commissioner as well as police commissioner, had ever spent a night behind bars. The judge said he could not find another way to keep Mr. Kerik, 54, from trying to contaminate witnesses and the potential jury pool.
“Mr. Kerik, if left to his own devices, will obstruct justice,” the judge said. “My fear is that he has a toxic combination of self-minded focus and arrogance, and I fear that combination leads him to believe that his ends justify his means.”
“Mr. Kerik’s not special,” the judge said at another point. “He thinks he is.”
Mr. Kerik, who wore a suit to court, took off his tie, emptied his pockets of wallet and keys, removed a ring and gave them to a lawyer, then walked off in the custody of two marshals. He did not speak. The U.S. Marshals Service said he would be taken to the Westchester County jail in Valhalla.
Defense attorney Barry Berke said he would appeal the ruling and seek a stay. Judge Robinson denied a request to keep Mr. Kerik out of jail pending the appeal.
The trial is scheduled to begin Monday with jury selection. Mr. Kerik is accused of accepting apartment renovations from a construction company in exchange for recommending the company for city contracts. He has pleaded not guilty.
The issue in Tuesday’s court session was Mr. Kerik’s relationship with Anthony Modafferi, an Oakland, N.J., lawyer who at least until recently was the trustee of Mr. Kerik’s legal defense fund and has written what the judge called “scurrilous” Internet articles berating prosecutors.
Judge Robinson said last month that Mr. Modafferi had sent The Washington Times an e-mail that contained some information that was supposed to be under seal and some inaccurate information. The material was not published and its nature has not been disclosed in court.
Times Executive Editor John Solomon said, “Because the court was not more specific, we’re not sure what they claim was under seal.”
Kerik attorney Michael Bachner told the judge Mr. Kerik had sent the sealed information to Mr. Modafferi, but did not expect him to disseminate it.
The judge called that explanation “nonsense.”
Mr. Bachner also said Mr. Kerik had hired Mr. Modafferi to work for him as a lawyer, though without pay and without any written agreement, which would allow the accused to share court information. The judge said that was a “sham” arrangement, created after the fact.
When Mr. Bachner contended that the court order was vague, Judge Robinson said, “I understand that’s your position, and I find that ridiculous.” He also berated a contention that Mr. Kerik had forgotten about the order at some point.
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