Bernard Kerik was hunkering down (and trying to raise funds) after his federal indictment last week, but one of his most trusted legal advisers, longtime friend and attorney Joe Tacopina, won’t be handling the case. Last year, Tacopina negotiated what law-enforcement insiders considered a sweetheart deal for the former police commish, who faced a lengthy investigation into gifts he received from developers affiliated with organized crime and ultimately pleaded guilty to two low-level misdemeanors. (Kerik was even allowed to keep his gun permit.) So why is lawyer Ken Breen handling this indictment? For one thing, Breen worked in the Justice Department as a business-and-securities-fraud prosecutor. But the other reason is that Tacopina may be called as a witness to testify about meetings Kerik may have had. (As Kerik’s lawyer, Tacopina holds an attorney-client privilege for conversations he had with Kerik alone; but once a third person enters the conversation, the privilege is no longer protected.) So it would be awkward for Tacopina to try the case, the thinking goes, and then have to take the stand to answer questions from the Feds.
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