Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Jailed NYPD top cop called to testify at Bronx perjury trial

Bernard B. Kerik, the disgraced former police commissioner of New York, will return to the city in the coming days, though certainly not triumphantly, and not yet as a free man.
Mr. Kerik, who is an inmate at a federal prison in Maryland, is scheduled to be taken to the Bronx to testify for the prosecution at the perjury trial of two of his former friends, Frank and Peter DiTommaso, the Bronx district attorney’s office said.
The case against the DiTommasos dates to a 2006 grand jury investigation of Mr. Kerik. The DiTommaso brothers told the grand jury that Interstate Industrial Corporation, their company based in New Jersey, had not paid for renovations to Mr. Kerik’s apartment.
Mr. Kerik himself contradicted that testimony a few months later, when he pleaded guilty to receiving $165,000 in free renovations from “the Interstate companies or a subsidiary.”
The DiTommasos were soon after indicted on perjury charges.
Opening arguments in the DiTommaso trial are scheduled to begin Monday. When Mr. Kerik will testify during the trial, which is expected to last a month, is not yet clear. The trial, in State Supreme Court in the Bronx, will reopen a scandalous period in the city’s history, one that resulted in Mr. Kerik’s spectacular demise as a nominee to lead the federal Department of Homeland Security and damaged the presidential aspirations of his benefactor, former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.
The relationship between the DiTommasos — Frank, 53, and Peter, 51 — and Mr. Kerik, 57, emerged from their desire to overcome the impression among regulators and investigators that their construction company was tied to organized crime, something that they have always denied.
The DiTommasos grew up on Staten Island, where their father had a construction business. Both played football at the University of Massachusetts.
In 1984, while still in their 20s, they started their own construction company and quickly built up a significant business.
In 1996, the brothers bought a dirt-transfer station on Staten Island. The purchase brought them to the attention of investigators because the seller was Edward Garafola, a notorious organized crime figure.
City investigators declined to give them a license to operate the station, and gambling authorities in New Jersey held up their license to work on casino construction projects in Atlantic City.
In 1998, Frank DiTommaso hired Lawrence Ray, who had been the best man at Mr. Kerik’s wedding, to help him deal with regulators looking at his company’s possible mob ties.
Mr. Kerik vouched for Mr. Ray’s integrity and suitability for the task, Mr. DiTommaso has said.
Interstate also hired Mr. Kerik’s brother. And Mr. Kerik forged his own friendship with Frank DiTommaso, whom he invited to a private Christmas party at Correction Department headquarters.
“When I would be in the city I would call him, see if he was in, stop by,” Frank DiTommaso once told investigators. “I liked Bernie. I thought he was a pretty interesting guy. Still do.”
In July 1999, Mr. Kerik met with Mayor Giuliani’s cousin Raymond V. Casey — who headed the city department investigating the DiTommasos — at a downtown Manhattan restaurant, where Mr. Kerik defended Interstate’s integrity.
It was about that time that the renovation work on Mr. Kerik’s apartment began.
The relationship with Mr. Kerik’s best man, Mr. Ray, served only to deepen suspicions that the DiTommasos were too close to organized crime figures.
In 2000, Mr. Ray and 18 others were indicted in federal court in Brooklyn in what prosecutors described as a $40 million pump-and-dump stock-fraud scheme run by the mob.
At the center of that case was Mr. Garafola, the same organized crime figure who had sold the transfer station to the DiTommasos.
By then, the renovations on the Bronx apartment, including a marble foyer, new kitchen and whirlpool tub in the master suite, were complete.
That summer, Mr. Giuliani appointed Mr. Kerik as the city’s police commissioner, a role that on Sept. 11, 2001, would thrust Mr. Kerik into the national spotlight and allow him to form the bond with President George W. Bush that led to his nomination as secretary of homeland security.
After avoiding state jail time by pleading guilty to two misdemeanors in the Bronx in 2006, Mr. Kerik faced federal charges stemming in part from the renovations and his associations with the DiTommasos.
He pleaded guilty in 2009 to eight federal crimes, including tax fraud and lying to White House officials when he was being vetted for the homeland security position.
Mr. Kerik was sentenced to 48 months in prison. He is scheduled to be released in October 2013.
The perjury trial against the DiTommasos had been delayed for six years pending the outcome of Mr. Kerik’s appeals, which failed.
Calls and e-mails to lawyers who have represented the DiTommasos in the case were not returned. If convicted, they face up to seven years in prison.



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