Bernie Kerik titled his best-selling 2001 autobiography “The Lost Son: A Life in Pursuit of Justice” and you have to admit he has lived up to this creed, if not exactly the way he intended.
The ex-police commissioner, having lost his way on the path to law enforcement stardom, awoke this morning as the best-known guest of the Justice Department’s Bureau of Prisons. He was on a cot in Cumberland Federal Correctional Institution, a medium security facility. The prison is some 130 miles northwest of Washington, D.C. where Kerik was once expected to serve as the nation’s Homeland Security secretary under George W. Bush. The job might well have been his if not for his penchant for taking money and favors from those he met, for bedding everyone from his publisher to his assistants, and for arousing the suspicions and curiosity of a troop of investigative reporters with his endless self-promotion.
Kerik, 54, was so badly rattled yesterday morning at the prospect of his four-year sentence that he failed to even pick up the phone when his old friend, Post columnist Cindy Adams, tried to reach him.
Adams, who gave Kerik as much good ink as anyone since Lindbergh, recounts her brief phone conversation with Kerik’s 7-year-old daughter:
“Is your daddy home?” asked the tabloid sweetheart.
“He’s away,” came the response.
The reporter pressed her case: “Honey, it’s Cindy, and we’ve had dinner several times.”
“Yes, I know, but daddy said he’s going to be away for a while.”
Adams went on to let Kerik fill the rest of her column with a lengthy gripe about his ill-fortune and ill-treatment by the law and those who betrayed him. There is a brief mention at the end about “imperfections” and “mistakes” but these are not specified.
For those of us who prefer to remember him as the proud, bullet-head-held-high ex-cop he used to be in his pre-whiney days, we here include a favorite passage from his book, about the honor he felt when he was inducted into the regime of his patron, then-mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, as corrections commissioner back in January, 1995:
“The door opened, and the first one to come through was the deputy mayor, Peter Powers. I stood to say hello and he shook my hand and said, ‘Congratulations.’ Then he pulled me over and kissed me on the cheek. He already knew. Next was Randy Mastro, the mayor’s chief of staff. He did the same. In this dark sitting room, one by one, the mayor’s closest staff members came forward and kissed me. They all knew. I know the mayor is as big a fan of The Godfather as I am, and I wonder if he noticed how much becoming part of his team resembled becoming part of a Mafia family. I was being made. I was now a part of the Giuliani family, getting the endorsement of the other family members, the other capos.”