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Will Kerik's indictment spoil Rudy's run?

Bernard Kerik, Rudy Giuliani's one-time business partner and New York corrections and police commissioner, was indicted Friday by a federal grand jury for tax evasion, fraud and conspiracy.

The 16-count indictment says Kerik, 52, got money and other "things of value" for lobbying New York City regulators in behalf of a construction firm and waste management company in New Jersey.

Guiliani, the former mayor of New York, holds a double-digit lead in national surveys of Republican presidential candidates, and has built his campaign in recent weeks largely on perceived gaffes by Democratic front-runner Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Guiliani asked President Bush to name Kerik as secretary of Homeland Security, but Kerik withdrew after it was revealed he had failed to pay taxes for his housekeeper.

Long Island Newsday said federal authorities charged Kerik with failing to tell the White House about his misdeeds when he was nominated to the cabinet post, on Giulinai's strong recommendation. Background papers filed by nominees are considered to be sworn affadavits.

With the first primaries and caucuses only weeks away, the indictment could put Giuliani on the defensive for the first time in his presidential effort. Kerik last year pleaded guilty to state misdemeanor charges for accepting home remodeling services and failing to tell authorities about a loan from figures allegedly tied to organized crime.

After pleading not guilty to the federal charges in a Westchester County court, Kerik is free on a $500,000 bond.

Friday's federal indictment charged that Kerik deprived the city of his "honest services'' by secretly lobbying for a New Jersey company and that he hid hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments received from the unnamed firm, a New York real estate developer and an Israeli businessman.

The New Jersey company, called XYZ in the indictment, enlisted Kerik in 1998 to convince city regulators that the firm had shed its ties to organized crime, prosecutors claimed, according to also reported that Kerik could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted of all counts.

---Douglas Turner   

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