Donegal-born NYPD cop jailed in notorious corruption case

Obituary: Peter Daly

Peter Daly: August 22nd, 1933 –  January 30th,  2017

Peter Daly: August 22nd, 1933 – January 30th, 2017


Peter Daly, a former New York City detective from Ballyshannon, Co Donegal, who was jailed for five years in 1975 for his part in police corruption, has died. The infamous drugs bust and subsequent investigation was led by former mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani, then a district attorney.

The Knapp Commission and revelations by Det Frank Serpico blew the lid off the rampant corruption and under-the-counter culture of the NYPD and Daly was one of the casualties.

In later life, Daly lived quietly in Ballyshannon where he spurned media approaches to tell his story until several years ago. His story was featured in the RTÉ radio documentary Good Cop/Bad Cop? and the book by James Durney, The 100 Kilo Case.

Peter Daly was the son of Patrick J Daly, a Ballyshannon GP and medical surgeon in the nearby Shiel hospital, and Sarah O’Malley, the daughter of a former RIC man.

Narcotics detective

He emigrated to New York City in 1952, aged 19. Drafted into the US army the following year, he subsequently served in Korea shortly after the armistice ended the war in 1953. In 1961, Daly joined the New York Police Department where he rose through the ranks to join the elite Special Investigations Unit (SIU) as a narcotics detective.

In April 1970, his team made the biggest drugs bust in US criminal history when they found a huge consignment of heroin and cocaine in an apartment at West 19th St, Manhattan. It was alleged Daly and others had in fact recovered 105 kilos of narcotics, but had kept five kilos of the haul which they sold for considerable personal gain.

Daly returned to Ireland once the gravity of the charges against him became clear. He was extradited from London after being arrested by English police in Liverpool in December 1974.

In May 1975, he faced a grand jury in New York and refused to co-operate with the authorities and was sentenced to 10 years in a federal penitentiary.

In the Good Cop, Bad Cop programme, he said: “I can’t say that anybody took anything because I don’t know.”

All dishonest

He told the documentary-maker Marc McMenamin: “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 [a] 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.”

Known as “Pete” to colleagues in the NYPD, returned to Ballyshannon in 1981, having served over five years of his 10-year sentence. He lived at Abbeylands, Ballyshannon.

Back home in Donegal he got involved in local issues and became a respected man in the community. He was well known for his generosity, kindness and affable personality.

Daly suffered a stroke in November 2016 and died peacefully at St John’s Hospital, Sligo, after a short illness.

He is predeceased by his ex-wife Rita, his son Connor, his brother Anthony O’Malley Daly and his sister Maeve. He is survived by his sons Shane and Evan, daughter Finola and sisters Gráinne and Fidelma.