The latest and most detailed recounting of the epic New York City police disaster known as Bernie Kerik is in Leonard Levitt’s fascinating new tell-all history, NYPD Confidential.
Levitt, who wrote a column for Newsday that now runs on the Web, tells of sitting at his desk in One Police Plaza in 2002 when he got a call from his book agent, Judith Regan who didn’t waste time on small talk. “How well do you know Bernie Kerik?” she blurted.
Levitt writes that Regan interrupted his “blathering” about how Kerik had been a refreshing change to ask: “Do you know about his girlfriends?” She then regaled Levitt with the tale of how Bernie had promised to leave his wife for Regan. “We even went to look at apartments together. He literally used to cry in my arms about how guilty he felt.”
As Levitt tried to picture burly Bernie in tears, Regan went on tell him that after she became convinced Kerik’s pillow talk was an act to get her to turn his own book into a bestseller, he turned on her. “He has been threatening me and he is stalking me as well as my two children.” Regan said that Kerik had called her at one point to tell her that he knew exactly where her son — a student at MIT — was on I-95 as he drove back to school.
“He’s cunning and charming and manipulative,” gasped Regan, “and he will stop at nothing. I think he’s capable of murder.”
Now there’s a new take on a former commissioner of America’s largest and most famous police department. Levitt also details how, before that dramatic break-up, Kerik was willing to do anything for Regan, including dispatching the lieutenant in charge of Manhattan South homicide in the middle of the night in search of a cell phone and necklace that she believed someone had stolen from her purse while she was at FoxTV. Cops fingerprinted and photographed suspects right in their homes, threatening arrest. The cell phone was later found in a garbage can near Fox. The necklace was at the bottom of Regan’s purse.
Levitt tells his story of police misdeeds and malpractice, interrupted by occasional profiles in courage, with his trademark saving grace: a wicked sense of humor. He is the only reporter to ever bring a Bible to a police commissioner’s press conference and ask him to put his hand on it while repeating an obvious fable. That commissioner was Howard Safir, but Levitt was an equal opportunity interrogator. No wonder Ray Kelly once drove all the way to Newsday’s headquarters in Melville, Long Island to try and get Levitt’s editors to rein him in. Photo (cc) davidsilver.