updated 11/4/2009 9:26:29 PM ET 2009-11-05T02:26:29

Bernard Kerik, a former New York City police commissioner and one-time nominee for Homeland Security secretary, will enter a guilty plea to resolve three pending criminal trials, a person familiar with the case said Wednesday.

Kerik plans to enter the plea in a federal courtroom on Thursday in a deal that could bring him a recommended prison term of around 2 1/2 years, the person told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. The person was not authorized to discuss the plea negotiations publicly.

Kerik, who won wide praise for his steadiness running the NYPD at the time of the 9/11 attacks, technically would have faced up to 140 years in prison if convicted of all the charges pending against him in White Plains and Washington. Federal sentencing guidelines, however, likely would have led to a shorter term.

Kerik originally pleaded not guilty.

Pledged to fight the charges
He pledged to fight the charges when he was indicted two years ago. He appeared steely and stoic through most of the long pretrial process until Oct. 20, when he was suddenly jailed for sharing secret pretrial information.

Soon after going behind bars, Kerik spent 10 days in the jail's psychiatric unit. At a pretrial session Oct. 26, he slumped forward in his chair and hung his head at the defense table.

The first trial was set to begin Monday.

In that case, Kerik was accused of accepting renovations to his Bronx co-op apartment in exchange for recommending a company that was looking to do business with New York City. The company was being investigated for alleged ties to organized crime.

Kerik was also accused of concealing the gift from investigators and from the Internal Revenue Service. The final count in the first trial alleged that when Kerik was being considered for a Homeland Security advisory position, he denied having any "questionable business affiliations."

The trial was expected to last about six weeks. Then Kerik was to face a second trial in White Plains on various tax charges; the third case, in Washington, accused him of lying to the White House during his Homeland Security vetting.

An embarrassment to Giuliani
Lawyers never said whether Kerik or his mentor, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, would testify. Both sides had asked Robinson to question potential jurors about their feelings toward Giuliani. And the judge, disclosing that he once worked for Giuliani, said the former mayor "may become an issue."

When the case broke in 2007, it was an embarrassment to Giuliani, a Republican who was running for president. Giuliani had named Kerik police commissioner, had gone into private business with him and had pushed President George W. Bush to make the Homeland Security nomination.

Bush nominated Kerik in December 2004 to replace Tom Ridge, the nation's first head of the Department of Homeland Security. Kerik withdrew his name a week later, citing immigration and tax issues over a former nanny.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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