There’s a new sheriff in town, and his name…

…is not Reggie Hammond.
It’s Preet Bharara.
Bharara, 40, has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the next U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, the highest-profile and (many would say) most important federal district in the nation.
Bharara has been chief counsel to U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer on the Senate Judiciary Committee for the past four years.
Schumer recommended Bharara to the top prosecutor spot earlier this year and his confirmation was a foregone conclusion. Acting U.S. Attorney Lev Dassin has held the post since Michael Garcia, a Bush appointee and Westchester resident, left the office in December.
Bharara, who worked as a line prosecutor in the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan from 2000 to 2005, rose to prominence as a result of his work on the Judiciary Committee’s investigation of the firing of several U.S. attorneys in 2006. That investigation led to the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
Schumer announced Bharara’s confirmation in an email: “The Southern District of New York will soon be tasked with one of the most important agendas of any office in the country, and no person is better qualified to take it on than Preet Bharara. He has served the Senate for nearly five years with the utmost intelligence, integrity and effectiveness. I know he will do the same as U.S. attorney.”

Another not guilty plea for Kerik

Already facing two federal criminal trials in White Plains, former NYPD Commish Bernie Kerik took the first steps toward a third trial by pleading not guilty today in Washington, D.C., to charges he lied to White House officials who were vetting him for the position of Secretary of Homeland Security. Pres. George Bush nominated him for the post in December 2004.

Kerik was indicted here in November 2007 on public corruption and tax fraud charges as well as the White House charges. But Judge Stephen C. Robinson has since ruled that the tax charges must be tried separately from the public corruption charges. And Kerik refused to waive jurisdiction on the D.C. charges. So one became three.

The federal investigation into Kerik came to light in September 2006 when former Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro announced that she was under federal investigation for allegedly trying to get Kerik to plant a listening bug on the boat of her husband, Albert Pirro Jr. Pirro suspected her husband was cheating on her.

No charges were ever filed regarding those allegations. Pirro was running for Attorney General at the time and said the leaking of the investigation  —  her announcement came shortly before WNBC News was to go on the air with a story about the probe —  was politically motivated.

Kerik’s first trial in White Plains is slated for October. His D.C. case has been put on hold until his White Plains trials are done. His next scheduled court appearance in Washington is Jan. 22.