Former NYPD cop from Donegal jailed for his role in notorious 1970’s drugs bust dies

Detective and war veteran Peter Daly (84) dies in a Sligo hospital

Michael Daly

Reporter:

Michael Daly

Email:

michael.daly@donegaldemocrat.com

Former NYPD cop from Donegal  jailed for his role in notorious 1970’s drugs bust dies

Peter Daly pictured signing copies of 'The 100 Kilo Case' in May 2016 at a publicity event for the book. Photo Thomas Gallagher

Peter Daly, a former New York City detective from Ballyshannon who was jailed for five years in 1975 for his part in police corruption following a massive drugs bust in New York, has died.

The infamous drugs bust and subsequent investigation, led by former Mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani, came to world attention at the time.

Giuliani, then a district attorney, took on what was seen as the rampant corruption and under-the-counter culture of the NYPD.

In later life Daly lived quietly in Ballyshannon where he spurned media approaches to tell his story until three years ago.

He left Ballyshannon in 1952 aged 19. He fought in  the Korean War and subsequently joined the NYPD where he rose through the ranks to join the NYPD Special Investigations Unit SIU as a detective.

In 1975, five years after the April 1970 West 19th Street Manhattan drugs bust, he was jailed for his part in what became known across the world as the ‘100 Kilo Case’.

It was alleged Daly and others, who were part of  the SIU at the time, had in fact recovered 105 kilos of heroin, but had kept 5kgs of the haul which they sold for considerable personal gain.

Daly, known as ‘Pete’ to colleagues in the NYPD, returned to live initially in a caravan in Rossnowlagh close to Ballyshannon in 1981, having served five years of his ten year sentence.

In 2016 he and author James Durney published, The 100 Kilo Case, where he wrote: “In Donegal I got involved in local and community issues and have become respected in my own community. Most people know something of my life in America. They had heard the rumours but few people asked. I was a returned emigrant.

“I had made it good in America and had come back to my home town to live out my retirement. That was enough.”

In more recent years Daly lived at Abbeylands, Ballyshannon. In 2013 he relented to requests to tell his story and took part in a radio documentary with a neighbour, Marc McMenamin.

The documentary, ‘Good Cop/Bad Cop’, was first broadcast in September 2013 and created quite a ripple of interest, worldwide.


Fall from grace

‘Good Cop/Bad Cop’ dealt with his fall from grace as an NYPD officer. In the documentary Daly revisited some of his old haunts in New York including his former precinct and he met up with former NYPD colleagues in Manhattan.

The documentary gives an insight into the allegations against Daly and the SIU team who recovered the heroin haul: “It wasn’t 100kg . . . it was a 105kg minimum,” Joseph Jaffe, an assistant to Giuliani at the time and prosecutor of the case, told McMenamin in the documentary.

“And those 5kgs, they sold them. And they divided them. They sold them. And they divided the money. And that makes them the same as any other Class A felon. It makes you an absolute drug dealer. Some of the people involved – not particularly Mr Daly – had no compunction about stealing whatever they could get their hands on. And that was as an organised group.”


Extradited

Daly returned to Ireland once the gravity of the charges became clear. He was extradited after being arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act by English police in Liverpool in December 1974.

In May of 1975, he faced a grand jury in New York and refused to offer any information about the accusation that the unit had sold on seized narcotics for vast profits.

“Peter’s story is amazing for what it is,” Bob Leuci, a former NYPD colleague, told McMenamin. “You have heads of Mafia families who testify and co-operate. They couldn’t get Peter to talk. So it is impressive. You Irish guys are stand-up guys. Italians are rats all over the place. But these Irish guys keep their mouths shut.”


Massive media attention

The case received massive media attention. One of the 12 charges he faced – which was thrown out along with another seven – was that his bank account contained more than $150,000, exceeding the average NYPD annual salary by 30 times.

Upon arriving in Louisburgh Federal House Detention, Daly was received warmly by Tommy di Bella, the don of the Brooklyn family, and was soon befriended by Jimmy Burke, the mobster who inspired Robert De Niro’s portrayal of Jimmy Conway in Goodfellas.


“Assumed I was guilty”

In the documentary Daly was asked by McMenamin about his guilt or otherwise:  “They assumed I was guilty and that was it.” I don’t know what information I had . . . people still say to me that I must have had some knowledge. And I didn’t but I wasn’t going to share it with them anyway.

“I can’t say that anybody took anything because I don’t know.”

“Of course I was dishonest! I am dishonest now. We are all dishonest. You have to make your own judgments. I can honestly say that there must be thousand regrets. I was brought up to know right from wrong. My regrets are innumerable. Whether it was Ballyshannon or New York, it was all part of life and please God we will pass away quietly into the night at the end of it.”

Peter Daly pictured watching a handball tournament in Ballyshannon alley last year. Photo Thomas Gallagher


New book

Daly and author James Durney wrote ‘The 100 Kilo Case’ which is described as “the true story of an Irish ex-NYPD detective protected by the Mafia and one of the most famous drugs busts in New York City”.

Durney in an ‘Afterword’ to the book wrote: “The two decades he spent in the police force and in the prison system have left their mark on him and continue to haunt his every living moment. Combat soldiers know this as post-traumatic stress. They might have only served a short time as a front line soldier, but their experience lives with them forever. For Pete Daly it is the same. He stills thinks of himself as a policeman. It is something he will never lose.”

Peter Daly, 84, Abbeylands, Ballyshannon  died “peacefully” according to his death notice at St John’s Hospital, Sligo.

Funeral arrangements still to be confirmed.