The Deputy Inspector: Big Man, Big Mouth
September 15, 2014
Is former NYPD Deputy Inspector Corey Pegues the department’s Ray Rice?
Pegues’s recent behavior isn’t at issue. Unlike NFL star Rice, the former cop didn’t knock his fiancée unconscious.
But, to peddle his unpublished autobiography, “From the Streets to the Beat,” he admitted to criminal acts as a street thug and crack dealer. He also claimed to have been friends with a killer of rookie cop Edward Byrne in 1988. All of that before joining the NYPD 20 years ago.
Since then, like Rice, the sky has fallen on one of the city’s highest ranking African American officers.
In the furor that followed his remarks on the Hip-Hop podcast “The Combat Jack Show” last month, Pegues has said his message has been misconstrued, that he wanted to bring about positive change, not glorify his past.
It may be a bit late for explanations:
Cops in Brooklyn’s 67th Precinct, which Pegues commanded before retiring earlier this year, tore his portrait from a wall and replaced it with a framed photo of Byrne.
Nassau County officers then seized three guns from his home in Hempstead.
The NYPD is reportedly considering ways to revoke his tax-free, $135,000-a-year disability pension. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton has said the department would review the pension.
Pegues had been a star in the NYPD: He was one of a small group of black male officers to have passed the sergeant’s, lieutenant’s and captain’s exams.
Two top chiefs — Chief of Patrol Robert Giannelli and former Chief of Department Joseph Esposito — were said to be his “rabbis.” A police source said they both referred to Pegues as “a great guy.”
Former police commissioner Ray Kelly appointed Pegues a deputy inspector. During the Combat Jack podcast, Pegues said Kelly also “hand-picked” him to attend the prestigious police management course sponsored by Columbia University.
While at the NYPD, Pegues weathered two Internal Affairs investigations into allegations that he associated with known criminals. “Those cases are tough to prove,” said the source. “They didn’t come up with anything.”
In the podcast, Pegues called Byrne’s execution in 1988 at the height of the city’s crack epidemic, “the most infamous police murder in history of New York.” He added that he was close friends with one of Byrne’s killers, David McClary.
“They [the NYPD] didn’t know how deep I was,” the 45-year-old Pegues said. “I had to hide that relationship for 20-something years. If they had any inclination that David McClary was my man, I would have had a hard time.”
[In a prison interview with the New York Post, McClary, who is doing to 25 to life in Attica, said: “Corey Pegues ain’t no friend of mine. This is all for the money. Everything he’s been saying about his history is total bull....”
During the podcast, Pegues described himself as the son of an absent, alcoholic father, a single mom on welfare, the sibling of five older sisters, but with what he said was “a consciousness of self. Malcolm, Martin and Mecca.”
He called the death of Eric Garner on Staten Island, after his arrest for selling “loosie” cigarettes, “murder.” He added that at 13 he, too, was selling “loosies” but that they weren’t cigarettes.
His “great escape” from his street life came when he enlisted in the Army. “I got popped on an assault,” he said. “I told the judge I was going in the Army. The judge dismissed the case and gave me one more chance. A higher power had to be looking out for me.”
He said the birth of his son and daughter when he was 16 turned his life around.
But after he left the Army, he said in the podcast, he was still doing stickup jobs. “I’m coming home, I’m doing stakeouts. I wanted to keep my street cred up.” On Halloween, he said, he committed a robbery wearing his daughter’s pumpkin mask.
Roy Richter, president of Pegues’s union, the Captains Endowment Association, said, “I was shocked and disgusted hearing the criminal conduct bragged about. If true, it is a complete betrayal of the oath and the sacrifice police officers make to society.”
PBA president Pat Lynch pledged, in a letter to the Post, “to use the full resources of this union to convince the general public to boycott any publishing house that would buy and publish a book by this disgusting and vile man.”
Black law enforcement officials seemed especially aggrieved by his remarks. None has offered public support.
“He’s bragging he shot a guy,” said a former high-ranking black officer who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “He’s pushing this book, not to turn people around in their lives, but to brag about himself and to glorify that kind of life.
“He didn’t repudiate those street thugs. He is not apologizing for his actions or his reckless statements. He doesn’t even repudiate the guy who shot Byrne. He is denigrating the years of advancement black law enforcement officials have made by making us out to be perps and thugs.”