Legal Ethics

Dueling lawsuits: Ex-NYPD boss Bernard Kerik and defense attorney do battle

Disgraced former New York Police Department commissioner Bernard Kerik and his high-profile defense attorney, Joseph Tacopina, are officially at war.

According to Courthouse News, Kerik filed a malpractice suit last Thursday against Tacopina in Newark., N.J., federal district court, accusing his former defense attorney of colluding with federal prosecutors against him.

Kerik alleged that Tacopina pressured him into accepting a plea bargain in his state corruption case and assured him that he would face no federal charges. Kerik pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in Bronx Supreme Court in 2006, but was soon targeted by the feds. Kerik ultimately pleaded guilty in 2009 and was sentenced to four years in prison in 2010.

Tacopina “sold Mr. Kerik down the river through a series of events reminiscent of The Godfather,” Kerik says in the complaint.

Tacopina responded by filing a $5 million defamation lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court on Monday against Kerik. According to the New York Post, Tacopina stated that Kerik had made defamatory statements to reporters and then filed an ethics complaint against Tacopina in order to cover his tracks. Tacopina is currently representing Alex Rodriguez in his lawsuit challenging Major League Baseball’s season-long suspension of the Yankees third-baseman, and he alleged in the lawsuit that Kerik’s statements were made to reporters looking to take down Rodriguez by undermining Tacopina’s credibility. According to the Post, the lawsuit also labels Kerik as an “admitted liar and cheat” and accused him of knowingly feeding lies to the reporters. The reporters were not sued.

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