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Movie about dirty cop, now living in Hernando, gets top Hollywood director

Ken Eurell is a former officer with the New York Police Department arrested for his work with drug dealers. Sony Pictures bought the rights to his story for a Hollywood film. [Times files (2016)]
Published Feb. 17, 2018

A Hollywood movie about one of the New York Police Department's dirtiest cops — Ken Eurell, 57, now retired and living in Hernando County — has taken another rocky step closer to the silver screen.

No start date for production has been announced, but the film named for the 75th precinct in Brooklyn where Eurell worked made headlines last month in trade publications with the announcement that the director will be Craig Gillespie, who told the story of vengeful figure skater Tonya Harding in I, Tonya.

Gillespie takes over for a director who left the project — Yann Demange, best known for the British historical thriller '71. What's more, several well-known screenwriters have come and gone as The Seven Five sat in Hollywood limbo.

But Sony recently extended paid rights to the story and Gillespie is a hot property in Hollywood, giving Eurell confidence that his time has come.

"I've learned Hollywood works at a snail's pace," Eurell said in his still-thick Brooklyn accent. "To me this all means the movie will get made."

Since moving to the Tampa area in 1992, Eurell has lived a quiet life. He raised two sons as a stay-at-home dad, volunteered for the PTA, and obeyed the laws.

But he's never shied from his criminal past.

"I did those things. What can I do? Deny it? When you screw up to the point that I did, you say, 'Okay, now is the time to wake up and be a good citizen.' I have done the best I can. That's all I can do."

In the late 1980s, while making $19,000 a year to patrol one of the most dangerous precincts in the NYPD, Eurell was tempted into the life of a crooked cop by his partner Michael Dowd, making an additional $8,000 a week from drug dealers.

He moonlighted by providing security during drug runs and information about possible police raids. Later, the partners in blue used police connections to sell kilos of cocaine.

Their 1992 arrest made national news.

Then, while out on bail, to pay for an escape to Nicaragua, Dowd agreed to take a job kidnapping a woman for a drug dealer who planned to kill her.

That was too much for Eurell. He turned Dowd in and got just two months for his crimes.

Dowd served 12 years.

A documentary called The Seven Five and featuring Eurell already has been filmed and can be viewed on Netflix. Last year, Eurell published his memoir, Betrayal in Blue.

Now, via Twitter, people are heaping scorn on him, with some angry he's profiting from his corruption and others that he turned on his partner.

"So, they are advocates for murder?" Eurell said. "Idiots."

But nothing will elevate him as a target for criticism like Hollywood.

"I assume it can get worse. I know it won't get better."

His wife, Dori Eurell, a character in the movie script, echoes that sentiment.

"Obviously there is a nice side to all this," she said. "We've had the opportunity to meet celebrities, directors, producers, actors, comedians, radio personalities."

Then there are the online trolls, who send "vile messages" and "find fault that we participated in the documentary."

The story is public record, she notes, so a documentary was likely with or without them.

At least they got to tell their side, she said.

The same goes for the Hollywood version.

"So, I might as well make the best of it," Eurell said.

He has said he doesn't care who plays him in the movie.

His wife has ideas, though, he said — the actor-son of a Hollywood legend and the star of the dysfunctional family series Shameless.

"Scott Eastwood for me and Emmy Rossum for her," he said. "My wife put that out on Twitter and Emmy even liked it."

Contact Paul Guzzo at pguzzo@tampabay.com. Follow @PGuzzoTimes.

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