Former Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik accepted thousands of dollars in royalties from a book published to raise money for the families of heroes killed on Sept. 11, 2001, the Daily News has learned.
Kerik contributed an 11-sentence foreword to the book of photographs, titled "In the Line of Duty," in which he praised police and firefighters who "desperately fought and struggled and bled and died in a noble effort."
"Theirs is a story beyond words; a story of bravery, fidelity and sacrifice; a story that must never be forgotten," Kerik wrote.
Kerik's royalties on the book have so far totaled $75,954.52, sources told The News.
The deal came about when Kerik was engaged in a torrid year-long affair with the book's publisher, Judith Regan, as The News revealed in December.
In contrast, former Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen, who also wrote an introduction to the book, accepted no money. Von Essen directed ReganBooks to include his payment in its charitable donation, according to the publisher's spokesman.
"Von Essen did not want to get paid, and in lieu of getting paid he wanted the money donated to charity," said Paul Crichton, a ReganBooks spokesman.
Crichton confirmed Kerik was paid, but declined to discuss the amount, citing company policy.
Asked about the royalties, Kerik spokesman Robert Leonard said the city's former top cop has donated far more to charity since late 2001.
Leonard said Kerik paid income taxes on the royalties and has donated $150,000 to charitable causes, including $120,000 to Sept. 11-related charities and $50,000 to groups that help the families of cops and firefighters.
Leonard declined to provide documents that would substantiate the numbers.
The book's cover states: "Publisher's profits will be donated to the New York Police & Fire Widows' and Children's Benefit Fund," which was created in 1985 by former New York Met great Rusty Staub.
Indeed, ReganBooks has donated some $500,000 to the charity, and continues to send checks and detailed accounting statements every six months, said the charity's treasurer, David Golush.
"Tom Von Essen was our point person on that," Golush said. "Von Essen is the one who called me up and said is it all right if [the charity] gets the profits from the book."
Von Essen serves on the charity's board of directors.
Golush said he didn't know Kerik had received royalties.
"That's news to me, news to everyone," Golush said.
Gene Russianoff, director of the New York Public Interest Research Group, said the proceeds from the photo book should have gone straight to the charity.
"I'm sure when they look at the book, people think they are helping out the department," Russianoff said.
The book, a collection of photographs at Ground Zero, spent four weeks on the New York Times best-seller list.
Kerik's royalty checks were mailed to former Mayor Rudy Giuliani's consulting firm in the name of Gryphon Strategic Group, a Delaware-based entity that Kerik created. Kerik resigned from Giuliani's firm in December, amid the controversy that enveloped him after he withdrew his nomination as President Bush's homeland security secretary.
The News reported that Kerik used a secret apartment overlooking Ground Zero to carry on extramarital affairs with Regan and a female correction officer in the weeks after the terrorist attacks.
The News also revealed that Kerik had helped his brother and a close friend get jobs with a city contractor who was battling allegations that his company was mob controlled.
The city Department of Investigation is probing the allegations.