By Jonathan Allen
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bernard Kerik, a former New York police commissioner and nominee to head the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, was released from federal prison on Tuesday after serving three years for tax evasion and lying to White House officials, a Bureau of Prisons spokesman said.
Kerik, 57, rose to prominence during the administration of New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Once Giuliani's driver, he became the head of the city prison system and then police commissioner.
His career unraveled when he tried to cover up renovations worth $255,000 on his New York City apartment that was paid for by a contractor blacklisted by the city for suspected ties to organized crime. Kerik admitted to making calls on the contractor's behalf to city regulators.
In 2009, Kerik pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to hiding the renovations from the Internal Revenue Service and to lying about the work to White House officials who interviewed him after President George W. Bush nominated him to lead the Department of Homeland Security.
The scandal proved an embarrassment to Giuliani during his unsuccessful 2008 bid to become the Republican candidate for president.
Kerik began a four-year prison sentence in May 2010, and his release after three years was based on good behavior.
He was the first former New York police commissioner to go to jail, according to Thomas A. Reppetto, who co-wrote a history of the city's police department.
Authorities did not disclose whether Kerik went to a halfway house or to his home in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey. He will spend the next five months under home confinement or at a halfway house and then be on supervised release for three years.
(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Andrew Hay)