Dirtiest of New York cops emerging from the shadows in Tampa Bay

Ken Eurell lived quietly in the bay area after life as a notorious New York officer. Not anymore.
Published September 2 2016
Updated September 6 2016

Ken Eurell is known as one of the dirtiest cops in the history of the New York Police Department.

While in uniform, he doubled as security for drug dealers. Later, using police connections for protection, he sold kilos of cocaine.

His arrest in 1992 made national headlines.

Ultimately, for testifying against Michael Dowd — his partner in crime and with the NYPD — Eurell received a lenient sentence, moved to the Tampa Bay area and quietly raised two children as a stay-at-home dad in a suburban neighborhood.

But he recently stepped back into the limelight in a big way.

Eurell is currently featured in the Showtime documentary The Seven-Five. Titled for the precinct where he served, the story explores the corruption during Eurell's time there.

He has a tell-all book, Betrayal in Blue, due out in late October.

What's more, Sony Pictures is planning a Hollywood film based on the documentary.

"Some prefer I stay quiet of course," Eurell, 56, said in a lingering Queens accent. "Look, this is all public information.

"I didn't ask to make the documentary. They came to me and said they were making it. I figured I could either be a part of it and tell my side of the story or let them tell it for me."

The same goes for the Sony project, he said.

Portions of his story that he finds important hit the cutting room floor in the making of the documentary, so he wrote the book.

In the process, of course, he is making money.

"So what?" he said, rubbing forearms covered in tattoos.

And while he is not proud of his past, he does not apologize for it, either.

"If people want to think, 'F you, scumbag,' that's how it is. I'm not that person anymore. I was stupid. I was greedy. I was young."

• • •

Eurell was 20 when he joined the NYPD in 1981.

Police academy instructors warned he would face criminal temptations. But he laughed it off. He could resist, he said.

"It's easier said than done, once all that money is there," Eurell said.

For a while, he was a good cop.

Then in 1987, he was partnered with Michael Dowd.

Dowd already was known as corrupt among the officers of the 75th precinct, in the New York borough of Brooklyn. He stole drugs and cash from crime scenes and allowed crooks to bribe their way out of arrests. Yet none of his colleagues would turn him in.

"You don't rat on your own," Eurell said. "That was the attitude."

Early on in their partnership, Dowd committed a crime and Eurell looked the other way.

Eurell felt safe knowing Dowd had his back on what were the most dangerous streets in the nation at the time.

The war on drugs was a figurative term across much of the nation. In the 75th, it was literal.

"Brooklyn had the highest murder per capita of anywhere," said Frank Girardot, who with Burl Barer co-wrote Eurell's book. "The murders happening were primarily drug related. This was a war zone."

• • •

While his partner was pocketing riches, Eurell was earning a salary of just $19,000 a year and putting his life on the line.

"I can't rat on him so I rationalized in my head that made me guilty by association," Eurell said. "I figured I might as well make some money, too."

The bulk of their dirty income came through Adam Diaz, the precinct's biggest drug dealer.

In exchange for $8,000 a week, Eurell and Dowd let Diaz know when his operation was being watched by the NYPD.

They also worked to put Diaz's competition out of business

Sometimes they would tip off the narcotics unit. Other times they would rob the competitors' headquarters.

They were criminals masquerading as law enforcement and enjoying a rich lifestyle — exotic vacations, trips to casinos, fine dining.

It was a fun ride, Eurell said. But today, he said, he wishes he had resisted Dowd and all that temptation.

"I regret ever meeting him. If I had not, I would have been a regular cop."

Still, Eurell acknowledged, he could have walked away.

• • •

In 1989, two years after he teamed with Dowd, he injured his hand while making an arrest and was able to retire with a full pension. Coupled with income from his wife, Dori Eurell, the family lived comfortably.

His wife begged him to step back to the right side of the law once and for all. But within a year, he was in business with Dowd again, this time selling cocaine.

Eurell had a rule for his street dealers. Potential buyers had their license plates checked by his contacts in the NYPD to make sure they were not working for the police.

In 1992, one of Eurell's dealers failed to follow this protocol. Eurell and Dowd were arrested.

"This was major," author Girardot said. "When this broke, it knocked Amy Fisher — the Long Island Lolita — off the front page."

The CBS news magazine 60 Minutes covered the scandal. David Letterman joked about it on his late night show. Eurell filled a scrapbook as thick as an encyclopedia with news clips.

"Why would I save those articles? Narcissism?"

Eurell was charged under RICO, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

While out on bail, Dowd made Eurell another offer: move with their families to Nicaragua and fund the escape by kidnapping a woman for a drug dealer who planned to kill her.

"If he had never planned that, I would have done my time," Eurell said. "Kidnapping and murder was too much."

Eurell informed law enforcement, the woman was whisked away to safety, and Dowd was arrested again. He served 12 years in prison.

In exchange for his cooperation, Eurell was sentenced to time served behind bars — just two months.

• • •

Eurell and Dowd have spoken on a few occasions over the years and saw each other at the premiere of the documentary. But, for the most part, they have kept their distance.

Eurell moved to Hernando County and sought to put his corrupt past behind him.

He joined a bowling league, was an active member of the PTA, and proudly boasts that as a stay-at-home dad, he raised his children to be successful adults.

With tattoos, a penchant for curse words as adjectives, and a menacing physique, Eurell acknowledges it has been difficult for him to play the part of a suburbanite.

He is aware he will likely stand out even more in the months and years ahead if his fame grows through the movies and book.

Still, he contends, he is not seeking fame or fortune. He just wants his story told right.

"I wasn't evil. I was young and dumb."

Eurell recalled the day he and Dowd were taken to court for a bail hearing, excited at their new-found fame and musing over who might play them in a movie.

Eurell chose Matt Dillon. Dowd wanted Sean Penn.

Pressed about whom he'd prefer today, Eurell was annoyed.

"I don't care. I don't see this as being famous. This isn't a good thing. But it's a thing I deal with and I'll do it on my terms."

Contact Paul Guzzo at pguzzo@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3394. Follow @PGuzzoTimes.

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