By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
The record has also been compiled in a separate probe by the New Jersey attorney general's office as part of its efforts to bar Interstate from state casinos because of its alleged dealings with Gambino and Genovese mobsters. Interstate's principals, brothers Frank and Peter DiTomasso, have always strenuously denied any intentional mob contacts, and the state's Casino Control Commission granted them a license, over the attorney general's objections. Last November, however, the state's Division of Gaming Enforcement issued a civil complaint, publicly laying out its case against Interstate, much of it based on the revelations about the firm's dealings with Kerik.
Right from the start, according to the complaint, Interstate's relationship with the Giuliani aide was premised on the notion that he could assist the firm in surmounting the city's objections to it. "Maybe he can help us," were the words Larry Ray, an old acquaintance of Frank DiTommaso, used when he introduced the contractor to the then recently appointed corrections commissioner in 1998.
Kerik returned the compliment, telling DiTommaso that Ray was a "top-shelf guy." DiTommaso himself described to investigators how Ray had brought him to Kerik's office, where the commissioner and Ray embraced. With his arm around his pal, Kerik told DiTommaso: "I want to tell you, I trust this guy more than my own brother."
That was a telling statement, since in short order DiTommaso had hired Ray as a $100,000-a-year adviser to help him with his "law enforcement" matters, along with Kerik's brother Don, who was put on the Interstate payroll as an $85,000-a-year yard manager at the Staten Island facility that Interstate had purchased from Gambino mobsters.
In November 1998, the New Jersey complaint states, Interstate sent a 46-page fax to Kerik's office, containing the firm's application for a city permit to operate the waste transfer station that city officials had flagged as mob-controlled. A few weeks later, Frank DiTommaso attended Kerik's office Christmas party, and the contractor took to dropping in on the commish when he was in the city.
In July 1999, Kerik met with Raymond Casey, a cousin of Giuliani who was then serving as enforcement chief for the city's Trade Waste Commission, telling him that "Ray could be helpful to the TWC in alleviating its concerns about Interstate." A few weeks later Kerik let Ray use his office to meet with commission investigators.
Throughout that period, the complaint states, Kerik regularly complained to Ray and others that he was broke and needed money to complete the purchase and renovation of the Riverdale apartment. In September 1999, the same month that Kerik closed on the apartment, the New Jersey authorities said that a subcontractor named Woods Restoration was hired by Interstate to handle the apartment renovations. Woods went on to complete the sumptuous project, allocating its billings for the work, allegedly at Interstate's direction, into other, separate projects.
It wasn't the only secret aspect of the job. Records show, and sources familiar with the criminal case confirm, that no permits were ever filed for the vast bulk of the work at the apartment. Even though the job included merging two separate apartment units, no architecture plans were filed, the sources said. Under rules established by the Giuliani administration for self-certification of most building projects, all the contractors had to do was file the plans. Without the filings, however, there was no paper trail of the work.
Kerik attorney Tacopina, exhausted after his extensive defense work, took a well-earned vacation with his family, his office said. He did not return Voice calls.
At the press conference after Kerik's guilty plea, investigations commissioner Hearn took one more stab at deflating the defense attorney's insistence that the proceeding was de minimis. "A plea bargain is a settlement," she said. "It balances the risks of litigation, but it also in this case has brought to light the now undeniable truth of Mr. Kerik's conduct in a criminal record that he will have to live with for the rest of his life."