NYC police review Kerik's use of investigative funds

THE BALTIMORE SUN

NEW YORK - The New York Police Department is reviewing credit card and bank accounts used in sensitive investigations in an effort to determine whether they were misused when Bernard B. Kerik was police commissioner, according to officials involved in the inquiry.

The exhaustive review, which is being conducted by a unit in the Internal Affairs Bureau that handles the department's most sensitive internal inquiries, has as yet uncovered no evidence of improprieties, according to one official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the inquiry's sensitive nature.

The review began shortly after Christmas, in the wake of news reports detailing accusations of financial improprieties and ethical lapses involving Kerik after the withdrawal of his homeland security secretary nomination.

The department undertook the review after learning from a New York Times reporter that a department official had raised questions about the use of the accounts, suggesting that some of the spending was suspect.

Joseph Tacopina, a lawyer for Kerik, scoffed at the suggestion of financial improprieties during Kerik's tenure, saying that the spending of any such city funds undergoes intensive review.

"One thing the city has is checks and balances - it's not like some private corporation - you don't just slide personal things through city accounts," he said. "I think it's wholly impossible to go under the radar screen. If there are any improprieties, the Finance Department checks every dime that's spent - there is no way that there are any improprieties."

Deputy Commissioner Paul J. Browne, the Police Department's chief spokesman, declined to answer questions about the matter.

Internal affairs investigators began taking records and computers from department offices nearly two weeks ago to review the accounts, officials said.

The accounts under scrutiny are used by the department's Organized Crime Control Bureau - which oversees the Narcotics Division - the Detective Bureau and the Intelligence Division, one official said. Dubbed "460 accounts" for the budget code that identifies such funds, they allow units to spend money outside the normal purchasing process, the use of which could reveal the existence of an investigation. Uses include things such as paying rent on undercover apartments, confidential informants and credit charges for meals or hotels during an investigation, officials said.

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