Giuliani's Kerik Woes Resurface Through Informant
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
In the heady days of the 1990s when Rudolph W. Giuliani was mayor of New York and Bernard B. Kerik was one of his most trusted lieutenants, Lawrence Ray enjoyed his own wild ride.
Ray was one of Kerik's closest friends and the best man at his 1998 wedding. As Kerik was rising to become New York's police commissioner, Ray was in touch with him regularly -- lending him money, discussing possible business opportunities, and using Ray's contacts in Russia to arrange a meeting for Giuliani with former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
Much has changed since then. Giuliani is now a leading Republican presidential candidate. Kerik has pleaded guilty to state ethics charges and is under federal indictment. And Ray, a convicted felon now in prison on a parole violation, has turned on his former friend. He has provided to state and federal authorities half a dozen boxes of e-mails, memos, faxes, financial statements, photographs and other materials about Kerik's alleged wrongdoing.
That evidence, reviewed by The Washington Post, shows that Kerik brought Ray into contact with Giuliani on a handful of occasions documented in photos and that he invoked Giuliani's name in connection with a New Jersey construction company with alleged mob ties that is now at the heart of the criminal cases.
While campaigning, Giuliani has sought to distance himself from Kerik, his mounting legal problems and associates such as Ray. Asked about Kerik and Ray during a recent appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press," he said: "I made a mistake in not vetting [Kerik] carefully enough. And it's my responsibility. I should have."
This spring, Ray's friend Sidney Baumgarten, a New York lawyer, told former deputy mayor and longtime Giuliani ally Ninfa Segarra that Ray was embroiled in a bitter divorce and an even worse custody dispute over his two daughters. Baumgarten said he told Segarra that Ray possessed "damaging" information about Giuliani but that he would not go public with his allegations if he could receive help with the mounting legal troubles.
"That was the implied quid pro quo," Baumgarten recalled in an interview with The Post, saying the conversation stemmed solely from his desire to help Ray's children in the custody case.
The following day, Baumgarten received an e-mail from Segarra advising Ray to call an acquaintance of hers, a "political heavyweight" lawyer who could assist Ray in the custody dispute in New Jersey. "For now I would ask not to identify me as the referral," Segarra wrote in the March 5 e-mail obtained by The Post.
In an interview, Segarra said she recommended the lawyer for Ray after talking with Baumgarten but did not consult with the Giuliani campaign or anyone else. She said she was not motivated by Baumgarten's offer that Ray would keep silent.
"Baumgarten described to me a very nasty child custody battle," said Segarra, who spoke with The Post at the request of Giuliani aides. "He may have implied something like that and I emphatically told him I didn't want to get involved. Because the welfare of children was at issue, I recommended a well-respected lawyer that was capable of dealing with the child custody issue in New Jersey."
Ray, who has been in prison since July on a parole violation, never acted on the referral. Instead, he reported it to the FBI, wearing a wire to record his friend recounting the referral.
Giuliani's aides dismissed Ray as not credible.