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Ex-NY police commissioner arrives at prison to begin sentence

By the CNN Wire Staff
Former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik believes that his prosecution was unjust.
Former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik believes that his prosecution was unjust.
  • NEW: Ex-New York police commissioner turns himself in to begin 4-year sentence
  • He pleaded guilty to lying to Bush officials, tax fraud
  • Kerik was nominated to be homeland security secretary in 2004, withdrew
  • Calls conviction 'gross injustice, which I pray will be remedied' on appeal'

New York (CNN) -- Former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik arrived at the federal prison in Cumberland, Maryland, Monday to begin a 48-month prison sentence, prison authorities said.

Kerik reported to the medium-security facility, which houses some 500 inmates, at approximately 1 p.m. ET, authorities said.

Kerik -- nominated by President George Bush in 2004 to be homeland security adviser, only to later withdraw from consideration -- was sentenced to four years in prison last February. He pleaded guilty to charges including lying to Bush administration officials during his 2004 nomination.

Ed Ross, a spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, said Kerik will be expected to perform a number of manual jobs including plumbing, landscaping and food service at the prison, which also has a minimum security camp.

On the eve of his imprisonment, Kerik maintained his prosecution was unjust, and said he had to prepare his two daughters, ages 7 and 10, for his departure.

"Words cannot express my disappointment in the prosecutors and the judge's behavior, and his sentence that followed," Kerik wrote on his blog Sunday.

"I have repeatedly expressed remorse for what I may have done, however, unlike many, I can't remain silent in the face of what I believe has been a gross injustice, which I pray will be remedied by an appellate court."

He said he made his two daughters watch the movie "Rocky Balboa" for the scene in which Sylvester Stallone's character tells his son that the world can be an unfair place but one has to persevere.

Words cannot express my disappointment in the prosecutors and the judge's behavior ...
--Bernard Kerik, on blog

"As I prepare to serve my sentence, I have had to likewise prepare Angelina and Celine, my 7- and 10-year-old daughters for what is next to come, and had to teach them that there are times when we are put in situations which are beyond our control and that no matter how undeserved, unsought, or unwanted, we must find the strength, courage, and perseverance to carry on and move forward."

Kerik, 54, pleaded guilty in November to tax fraud and six other felonies. He has been under house arrest in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, since then.

In court papers, prosecutors said Kerik denied to a White House official that there was "any possible concern" about his relationships with contractors involved in renovating his apartment or that he had any financial dealings with prospective city contractors.

Kerik had been scheduled to go to trial on various corruption charges, including allegations that he received and concealed benefits of about $255,000 in renovations to his Riverdale, New York, apartment from a company seeking to do business with the city of New York. He pleaded guilty to that charge and several tax-related counts in November.

Kerik was New York police commissioner from 1998 to 2002, a tenure that included the September 11, 2001, attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center and killed more than 2,700 people.

With great power comes great responsibility and comes great consequences
--U.S. District Court Judge Stephen Robinson

He spent a brief stint in Iraq training the country's police force after the U.S. invasion in 2003, and President Bush nominated him to be homeland security secretary in 2004.

However, Kerik withdrew from consideration after allegations surfaced that he had employed a nanny with a murky immigration status.

In 2006, he pleaded guilty to accepting tens of thousands of dollars in gifts while working as city corrections commissioner. Under his plea agreement, he paid $221,000 in fines and avoided jail time.

His admission dogged the 2008 presidential campaign of his longtime patron, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who said his endorsement of Kerik had been "a mistake."

Kerik made an unsuccessful appeal for clemency to Bush in 2008, according to court papers released in October.

Kerik's sentence exceeded the 27- to 33-month prison term recommended by federal prosecutors.

"With great power comes great responsibility and comes great consequences," said U.S. District Judge Stephen Robinson during the sentencing on February 18.

Kerik ended his blog post Sunday, saying: "Finally, I can only hope that history will judge me based on my 30 years of public service to our great nation, and not by tabloid headlines, my imperfections, or the mistakes that I may have made."