By Sandy Fitzgerald
Former NYPD Commissioner and 9/11 hero Bernard Kerik has filed a complaint with the New York state bar accusing his high-profile attorney Joe Tacopina of working with prosecutors to send him to prison.
Kerik was sentenced to time behind bars after pleading guilty to two misdemeanor charges and admitting accepting $165,000 in apartment renovations from a company that was allegedly tied to the mob, The New York Daily News reports.
Tacopina, representing Kerik, assured him his legal troubles were over, but two years later Kerik was sentenced to 48 months in federal prison.
Kerik now accuses his attorney of helping federal investigators put him behind bars.
In his complaint to the bar, Kerik accuses Tacopina of being involved in "conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, and/or misrepresentation."
He also accuses Tacopina of revealing information crucial to his defense to federal investigators, improperly contacting Kerik in 2007 after he was indicted, and attempting to defraud Kerik of a seven-figure finder's fee as part of a real estate deal.
The charges were filed before the disciplinary committee of the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division for the First Judicial Department.
Tacopina denies the claims, and his attorney Lanny Davis says that if any of the accusations were true, Tacopina already would have been sanctioned.
"Mr. Tacopina in 22 years of law practice has never received a bar complaint, let alone any discipline," Davis told the Daily News. "Mr. Tacopina's spotless record with the bar speaks far louder than the lies and innuendo that are being spread by those with an obvious agenda."
One of Kerik's major complaints is that Tacopina met with prosecutors, an accusation Tacopina denies. He says he only met with prosecutors once or twice for less than two hours to authenticate financial records.
But Kerik says that in March 2007, prosecutors disqualified Tacopina from representing him and then converted him into a witness against his former client.
Kerik says Tacopina then contacted him, which is against court rules. Tacopina's attorneys deny that claim.
Kerik is also considering a malpractice suit against Tacopina, said one of his attorneys, Boston-based Raymond Mansolillo.
"We'll assess the information that we've gleaned, and we'll determine which avenue to take," Mansolillo said. "I'm looking into whether any [of Tacopina's representation] had any indirect or direct effect on where Bernie ended up."
The U.S. Attorney's Office in White Plains, which prosecuted Kerik, declined requests for comment.
But documents obtained by The Daily News show that the office questioned Tacopina.
"You can't talk about things that would lead your client into an ambush," Mansolillo said. "We have information that they did talk. We don't know why. Those questions may have to be revealed by the U.S. attorney. It could go in a lot of directions."
The men were close friends and business partners for years before Kerik faced the federal charges.
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