Ex-Cop, Ken Eurell Details Cocaine-Fueled Corruption in the NYPD

By Dorri Olds 01/18/17

"Once I was shown what to do—making all this easy money with no repercussion from it, greed took over." -Ken Eurell

Ken Eurell
The money was so easy to make. It was impossible to turn away.

Disgraced ex-cop Ken Eurell, who was memorialized in the 2015 documentary, The Seven Five, just published a memoir about his nefarious years as a police officer in one of the most corrupt police departments in the United States. The book, Betrayal in Blue: The Shocking Memoir of the Scandal that Rocked the NYPD, was co-written by Edgar Award winning author Burl Barer and journalist Frank C. Girardot Jr.

“It was like the heyday of crack,” said DEA special agent Mike Troster in the documentary. East New York in Brooklyn was a war zone, and according to Troster, “It was a hotbed for crime in New York City.”

In the late 1980s, the 75th precinct was the deadliest in the country. It handled the most homicides, including the most police shootings. “It was the highest murder rate in the country,” said Kenny Eurell, who worked there from 1982 to 1990. It was a time of 3,500 homicides per year in the city.

Eurell’s crimes escalated from drinking on the job to robberies, extortion, and selling cocaine after he’d retired on a cop’s pension. His book tells the story of being sucked into a world of crime and free money through his dirty cop partner, Michael Dowd.

While the doc focused mostly on Dowd, Eurell’s book reveals everything that was left out when much of the movie “ended up on the cutting room floor.”

The Fix landed an exclusive interview with the infamous criminal. 

Eurell told us he wanted to set the record straight on his years of working with coked-out Dowd. Yes, they robbed unsuspecting citizens, moved on to selling cocaine and finally went into free-fall after ripping off drug dealers. “It was greed,” said Eurell, “pure and simple. The money was so easy to make. It was impossible to turn away.”

“I became a cop at age 20 and was on the job for seven years before being partnered with Mike [Dowd]. It never occurred to me to go on a burglary call and grab the stuff that the burglar missed. It was not in my mindset until I was partnered with Mike. I don’t want to say I was brainwashed, but let’s just say, I was introduced to a different way to do police work.”

I asked him why he’d used the word “brainwashed.” He said, “I say 'brainwashed' because when we got in the [squad] car together, Mike talked about making money about 98% of the time. The other 2% of the time he talked about women. Once I was shown what to do—making all this easy money with no repercussion from it, greed took over.”

Does Eurell have regrets about what he did? “I absolutely have regrets,” he said. “I wish I’d never took that first bit of money that Mike threw at me. I wish I had the courage to say to myself, ‘This is wrong. Don’t take the money.’ Even though that would’ve cut my own throat and ruined my career.”

He explained, “You can’t turn somebody in while you’re on the job because the word ‘rat’ will follow you around and destroy your career. There were guys when I was working—cops just suspected them of being a rat or a snitch—and every day, all the tires on their personal car would be cut. They go into work and their lockers would be in the shower, turned upside down, the locks broken open, all their stuff dumped out. Dead rats from the neighborhood were thrown onto the hood of their car. It makes a working situation absolutely impossible.”

“It sounds like the Mafia,” I said.

“Yeah,” said Eurell. “It’s that mentality.”

He added, “I wish I never went that corrupt cop route. There’s so many guys I was on the job with that retired as captains and hero detectives. Here I am, I’m an outcast as one of the most corrupt cops in the NYPD. It’s not something to hang my hat on.”

Eurell launched into his history with alcohol, cocaine and corruption.

“When I was a cop, I was definitely an alcoholic, a functional one. I drank every day but was able to do my job. My last drink was in 1992, the year I got arrested. But after I quit cold turkey and stayed dry for 15 years, I was at my son’s engagement party and thought, 'Oh yeah, my son’s getting engaged,' so I had one beer, which was fine. Now, I have maybe two beers a month. If I go out I’ll have a beer, but we rarely go anywhere. We’re homebodies, my wife Dori and I. The biggest thing we do now is go out on a weekend on the motorcycle and I don’t drink when I’m on the bike.”

In his book, Eurell commented that alcohol opened up new doors for him but “It also opened up a new world of tension and problems.”

He said that the first time he drank on the job was because a boss told him to. And, despite the time he spent dealing cocaine, he never liked the drug. “I tried cocaine once,” he said. “I had a buddy who was going into the Marines. We were at a going away party and we gave him some cocaine. I did a bump with him but it really had no effect on me. And that was it. I never did it again.”

But his partner, Dowd, was a coke addict and “that was a major problem. We were working the patrol car. His personality is already high strung, you know, very hyperactive. On cocaine it was times a hundred. He was a talker.”

Back then, Eurell said, “everybody did cocaine. It was a very sociable drug. It wasn’t no heavy-addiction drug. All my customers were adults that had jobs and went to work every day and, you know, they would buy some cocaine for the weekend. We weren’t out on the street dealing to little kids at a school or nothing.”

In his memoir, Eurell wrote about the financial benefits of dealing coke and of obtaining it by stealing and extortion:

“Mike and I got the coke for free so everything was pure profit. When we started buying the coke later on, depending on the quantity, we would spend anywhere from $600 for an ounce to $16,000 for a key of pure coke. And what we had tested 94% pure cocaine. At that purity rate I was able to step on it quite a bit. When I cut coke, I used inositol, a compound which is now used in energy drinks. I read how it increased the ‘feel good’ chemicals in the brain like serotonin and norepinephrine. It also gave a slight burning effect when snorted. I’d buy 250 grams at a health food store for $20. Every gram I sold was 50% inositol and 50% cocaine. I made $37.50 for every half-gram of inositol when I sold a gram for $75. That’s $18,750 gross on the inositol jar that I would buy for $20.”

Another passage in Eurell’s book describes a scene with Dowd when they were picking up cocaine to sell:

“Mike normally talked a lot, but he was high and he was yapping nonstop, sweating profusely, eyes dilated, and all the classic symptoms. He starts measuring out coke for me, but he couldn’t stop his hands from shaking. Meanwhile my buddy’s eyes are lit up. Here he is a casual coke user who has never seen more than a few grams staring at an uncut ounce rock busted off a key. Mike had a few lines laid out, and he was ready to sample them. I thought he was going to have a heart attack right there in front of me. ‘Yo! What the fuck are you doing?’ I screamed at him. ‘What?’ Mike replied in a hushed voice with his hand motioning downward so his wife wouldn’t hear the commotion. ‘Do me a favor—lay off this shit. Please? Will ya?’ I said.”

Unlike Dowd, who served 12 years of a 14-year prison sentence, Eurell never went to jail. “But I don’t want to be put up as an anti-hero, you know, this quasi-celebrity. My book is the story, take it for what it is, heed it as a warning, and, you know, it has an entertainment value. It lets you see into the police department, or how things were back then. I can’t speak for how it is now, but that’s how it was back then.”

“It sort of bothered me because they played the whole angle that I’m a rat. Like I was more of a bad guy because I wore a wire. They played it like Mike is this anti-hero and then at the end of the documentary they made it like Dowd did his time and didn’t give nobody up. That’s a crock of bullshit. He gave up every cop he ever worked with. And what people who see it won’t know is they interviewed Mike’s ex-wife and she spoke so dark of him they completely cut her out of the film because if they showed it, he wouldn’t be likable at all.”

Eurell and his wife Dori are still happily married, they have two grown children and two healthy grandchildren. Because he was willing to wear a police wire and help in the prosecution of Dowd, he got off pretty easy.

I asked if he’d tried to teach his kids right from wrong. “Oh, yeah, absolutely,” said Eurell. “I taught them, ‘There are repercussions to everything you do,’ and ‘There are equal and opposite reactions to every action you take.’ I told them, ‘Think things out before you do it.’ If they learned from my errors, then that’s what being a parent is all about.”

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Dorri Olds is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in many publications including The New York Times, Marie Claire, Woman’s Day and several book anthologies. Find Dorri on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.