Rudy's Kerik Problem

Records detail ex-commish's contacts with alleged mob-tied firm

But Ray's hiring only added more fuel to the government's suspicions. At the time, Ray himself was under investigation for the mob stock scheme, a scam that included Garafola. According to court papers, Garafola had put out a contract on Ray's life.

All that, DiTommaso maintained, came as a complete shock. Ray was fired when the indictments were announced. Kerik stopped talking to him as well. Ray eventually pled guilty to fraud and was sentenced to nine months' home confinement and five years' probation.

Interstate was later denied approvals for city contracts; the New Jersey Attorney General is still seeking to bar the firm from working for casinos there.

Asked last week about the photo of Giuliani, Gorbachev, and Ray that had so impressed DiTommaso, Giuliani's spokeswoman, Sunny Mindel, said she knew nothing about it.

Joe Tacopina, Kerik's lawyer, confirmed the photo: "There is a picture. Ray really knew these people. That's the weird thing. That's why Bernie was duped by this guy."

Kerik had considered Ray his best friend, Tacopina said, leading him to "some judgment errors on his part."

As for DiTommaso, Tacopina insisted the two men were never close. "He was someone Bernie met through Larry Ray. The common denominator is Ray." Later this month, Tacopina said, Kerik is to be deposed by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement regarding his dealings with the contractor.

For his part, Ray denies duping anyone. But he also confirmed the photo with the mayor and the former Soviet leader. "Yeah, I was there at City Hall," he said. "Gorbachev, the mayor. Bernie was proud of a lot of photos. He had bunches of them."

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