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Former Employee Rats on Deadbeat Bernie

New York- A whistleblowing former deputy warden has sent the U.S. Justice Department a 178-page report slamming Bernie Kerik [the man who George Bush was going to name as chief of Homeland Security] for turning the city Department of Correction into “the Department of Corruption” over the 51/2-year period he worked there.

Terrence Skinner, 43, once a top correction cop who was promoted by Kerik and got plum assignments, said he wrote the report and delivered it to the feds last week to set the record straight on his former boss – and because Kerik was “positioning himself for some future governmental position.”

The surfacing of Skinner’s bombshell charges is the latest in a series of stunning blows that have hit Kerik since President Bush tapped him to be Homeland Security secretary.

Since withdrawing his nomination over his former nanny’s tax and immigration status, Kerik has faced a slew of accusations. They include reports that he carried on extramarital affairs at a apartment overlooking Ground Zero, took gifts that he never reported to the city, and helped a mob-connected company that was seeking city business.

Skinner’s report paints Kerik – who became deputy correction commissioner in 1995, was appointed commissioner in 1998, and left the department in August 2000 to head the NYPD – as vindictive and as someone who made his own rules.

“I think power corrupted him,” Skinner told The Post. “Kerik and his team became obsessed and arrogant. They thought they were kings.”

Skinner details a saber-rattling speech that Kerik, whose career soared after pal Rudy Giuliani took office in 1994, gave after he was appointed first deputy commissioner.

The disturbing speech focused on some recent negative publicity, which Kerik said he would not tolerate.

“He went on to state that if anyone was disloyal to him, he would make their lives miserable,” Skinner says in his report.

“He stated that he had been a ‘hunter of men’ and that he was good at it. He further stated he would hunt down anyone he thought was disloyal to him.”

Skinner’s charge is backed by the affidavits of two other deputy wardens who had similar recollections of the meeting. Both are included in the report.

The Post also has determined that about 25 Glock pistols that the department bought mysteriously became the property of select top officials and officers between 1999 and 2001.

Skinner’s report, delivered to Attorney General John Ashcroft’s office in Washington on Thursday, alleges:

* Kerik ordered correction officers to strip-search suspects held on misdemeanor charges – a violation of a federal court order that led to a $50 million fine against the city.

A federal judge had earlier banned such searches, but Kerik – then deputy commissioner – told his men to do them anyway, Skinner claims.

Skinner said he was present when Kerik issued the order to Correction Department brass in a TEAMs meeting – the department’s stat-crunching equivalent to the NYPD’s computerized crime-fighting Compstat system.

* That more than $800,000 is still missing from the scandal-scarred Correction Foundation, a little-known outfit headed by Kerik and funded with $1 million in rebates on cigarettes the city bought for Rikers Island inmates from tobacco firms.

It’s been documented that $142,000 was skimmed by foundation treasurer Frederick Patrick, who is now serving a year in jail after he used the money to arrange collect phone-sex calls by inmates to his home.

* That a captain allegedly targeted by Kerik for crossing a pal of Kerik’s former girlfriend, Officer Jeanette Pinero, received a $250,000 settlement after he sued Kerik and the city.

Then-Capt. Herbert Reed was falsely accused of sexual harassment while working at the Bronx House of Detention. He was cleared and still works for the department.

A second captain has sued the city after allegedly reprimanding Pinero for insubordination. That case is still pending.

Skinner said his report documents how Kerik abused his power.

“When you look at everything he was doing – that’s a conspiracy,” said Skinner, who was promoted by Kerik in 2000 and given a series of high-profile assignments before he retired in 2003 after a 20-year career.

Kerik’s lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, ripped Skinner, saying, “He was alleged to have raped a Corrections Department officer, who ended up shooting herself and is now a quadriplegic.”

Said department spokesman Tom Antenen of Skinner: “He’s a bad guy. He’s been trying to sell this for years.”

Records show that no rape charges were filed against Skinner, who was never interviewed on the matter and later earned two promotions – including one under Kerik – and a handful of awards.

Skinner has denied the rape charge. He says he only heard about the rape charge after a colleague who knew the alleged victim unexpectedly aired it during a promotion review in 1994 that he did not attend.

He demanded an apology, which the department’s top lawyer gave him, he says.

Last week, Kerik abruptly resigned from Giuliani’s consulting firm, apologizing for a recent string of embarrassing disclosures about his finances and private life.

“The events surrounding my withdrawal have become an unfair and unnecessary distraction to the firm and the important work being done there,” Kerik told reporters.

“I am confident that I will be vindicated from any allegation of wrongdoing,” Kerik, 49, said.

After leaving the Police Department in 2002, Kerik joined Giuliani as a security consultant for Giuliani Partners. The firm has advised business and government agencies on security, leadership and other issues.

A spokesman for the former police commissioner said afterward that Kerik’s decision to step down was his alone.

Giuliani, in a separate press conference, reiterated the same message, saying he agreed with Kerik’s decision but was not behind it.

Meanwhile, The Bronx district attorney is probing allegations that Kerik illegally accepted gifts and had a business relationship with the owner of a construction firm suspected of having organized-crime links.



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