by Michelle Franzen
Former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, a friend and one-time business partner of Rudy Giuliani, was arraigned in federal court on 16 felony counts including conspiracy, tax fraud and lying to the government on Friday.
Kerik walked out of court after pleading not guilty, and vowed to fight.
"I'm dissappointed that the government has brought forward this case. It's an extremely difficult time for me and my family," Kerik said.
Prosecutors allege Kerik accepted $255,000 in illegal payments for renovations to his Bronx apartment in the late 90s from a company that was applying for a city license.
"During the time Kerik secretly accepted these payments he lobbied city officials on behalf of his benefactors. In effect selling his office in violation of his duty to the people of this city," said U.S. Attorney Michael J. Garcia.
The fall from grace for the right hand man of Giuliani in the aftermath of 9/11 comes at a time when Giuliani is trying to show the American people he can be a trusted leader.
On the campaign trail in Dubuque, Iowa Thursday Giuliani told voters he was wrong in his assessment of Kerik and wrong for recommending him in 2004 to President Bush to head Homeland Security.
"I made a mistake in not clearing him effectively enough. I take the responsibility for that," Guiliani said.
Seven days after Bush nominated Kerik for the position, Kerik withdrew his name amid allegations he did not pay taxes for a nanny.
Those allegations that are now part of the indictment against Kerik, a case that creates an uphill battle for the hero turned criminal defendant.
The former police commissioner is also accused of making false statements on application forms and to White House officials while seeking the Homeland Security Department nomination.