With Giuliani's name inscribed in the 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2000 diamond-and-gold rings, memorabilia and baseball experts say they are collectively worth a minimum of $200,000. The Yankees say that Giuliani did pay for his rings—but only $16,000, and years after he had left office. Anyone paying for the rings is as unusual as a mayor getting one, since neither the Yankees nor any other recent champion have sold rings to virtually anyone. The meager payment, however, is less than half of the replacement value of the rings, and that's a fraction of the market price, especially with the added value of Giuliani's name.
What's more troubling is that Giuliani's receipt of the rings may be a serious breach of the law, and one that could still be prosecuted. New York officials are barred from taking a gift of greater than $50 value from anyone doing business with the city, and under Giuliani, that statute was enforced aggressively against others. His administration forced a fire department chief, for example, to retire, forfeit $93,105 in salary, and pay a $6,000 fine for taking Broadway tickets to two shows and a free week in a ski condo from a city vendor. The city's Conflicts of Interest Board (COIB) has applied the gift rule to discounts as well, unless the cheaper rate "is available generally to all government employees." When a buildings department deputy commissioner was indicted in 2000 for taking Mets and Rangers tickets, as well as a family trip to Florida, from a vendor, an outraged Giuliani denounced his conduct as "reprehensible," particularly "at high levels in city agencies," and said that such officials had to be "singled out" and "used as examples."
And there's another, more recent, and closer-to-home example of arrogant nondisclosure noted publicly by Giuliani. When former police commissioner Bernard Kerik pled guilty last year to charges involving a city contractor's gift to him of a $165,000 apartment renovation, Giuliani said that Kerik had "acknowledged his violations." As part of a $221,000 plea deal, Kerik agreed to pay a $10,000 fine to the COIB for accepting and then failing to accurately disclose the renovations. Not only are Kerik and Giuliani's concealed gifts of similar value, but Kerik, like Giuliani, made a partial payment for the renovations—$17,800, far less than full value.
More ominous for Giuliani, Kerik's prosecution came eight years after the renovation of his apartment began, an indication that the ordinary statute of limitations doesn't apply to the continuing reporting requirements of the COIB. In addition, Giuliani reportedly paid the Yankees as recently as 2004 for one of the rings, another reason why an investigation might still be timely. It is also a violation of state unlawful-gratuity statutes for a public official to "solicit, accept, or agree to accept any benefit" from a business like the Yankees, which leases the stadium from the city.
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