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OpinionColumnistsLeonard Levitt

A retired NYPD commander lets his past haunt him

An NYPD patrol car is shown in this

An NYPD patrol car is shown in this file photo taken on March 18, 2012. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Is retired NYPD Deputy Insp. Corey Pegues the department's Ray Rice?

Unlike NFL star Rice, the former cop didn't knock his fiancée unconscious.

But to peddle his unpublished biography, "From the Streets to the Beat," he admitted to criminal acts as a street thug and crack dealer.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, 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 was misconstrued, that he wanted to bring about positive change, not glorify his past. It may be 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 seized three guns from his home in Hempstead for reportedly violating the "good conduct" clause on his permit.

The NYPD is reportedly considering ways to yank his tax-free, $135,000-a-year disability pension.

Pegues was a star in the NYPD: Former Commissioner Ray Kelly appointed him deputy inspector, and Pegues said he was "hand-picked" for a prestigous police management course.

While an officer, Pegues weathered two Internal Affairs investigations into allegations that he associated with criminals. "Those cases are tough to prove," said a source. "They didn't come up with anything."

In the podcast, Pegues said he was friends with one of Byrne's killers, David McClary. "If they had any inclination that David McClary was my man," he said of the NYPD, "I would have had a hard time."

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."

After he left the Army, he said in the podcast, he was still doing stickups. "I wanted to keep my street cred up."

Roy Richter, president of Pegues' union, the Captains Endowment Association, said, "If true, it is a complete betrayal of the oath and the sacrifice police officers make to society."


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