New York Detective Joseph Coffey certainly doesn’t need any introductions, he was legendary in both law enforcement and criminal circles alike. He had a career like no other and an impressive arrest record to match.
We have covered Joe Coffey previously in this page but to catch up, in his whole career Joe Coffey had been involved with investigation into the Lufthansa Heist of 1978, interviewed the Son of Sam serial killer, arrested John Gotti three times, brought in Mafia Godfather Paul Castellano and brought an end to the notorious Irish gang from Hell’s Kitchen, The Westies. He was also involved in investigating 82 homicides in New York City, many of them Mafia related.
This earned him the chance to become head of the Chief of Detectives Organized Crime Homicide Task Force. From there he assembled a team of eight police officers, who once they received the phone call from Coffey all dropped whatever cases they were working to join him. These detectives were:
John O Connell – 17th Homicide Zone
Jerry Maroney – 17th Homicide Zone
Jack Cahill – 1st Homicide Zone
Dick Joyce – 1st Homicide Zone
Joe Lyons – 16th Homicide Zone
John McGlynn – Major Case Squad
Frank McDarby – Anti Terror Squad
John Meyer – Manhattan Burglary Squad
“We’re going to have a gang of our own and we’re going to kick ass” said Coffey. They would become known as the Coffey Gang. The Coffey gang had one thing in common, they all grew up on the streets and had contacts on both sides of the law, indeed Joe Coffey’s father had survived an attempt on his life by mobsters, none other than Eddie McGrath’s brother in law and co leader John “Cockeye” Dunn.
The Coffey Gang had originally been given a 30 day mandate to produce some results but Coffey was confident that the 30 days would pass and no one in law enforcement would want them to disband.
Before he sent the squad out to take on their first assignments, two mob hits, one a roofing contractor and the other was the investigation into the murder of Salvatore “Sally Balls” Briguglio, Coffey told them “I know you guys are going to get a rough time from precinct squad commanders. They are going to think we are stepping on their toes. They are right. If they were doing their jobs properly we wouldn’t be necessary” Within three weeks they would have one case almost solved and huge potential to solve the other “Sally Balls” case, which had lead to the top of the Genovese Family and Funzi Tieri the then boss.
The Coffey Gang would solve these cases and as Joe Coffey predicted, they continued on after their original 30 day mandate expired. They would go on to bring down The Westies, where almost all of that gang were put behind bars. He would arrest Gambino Family Boss 3 times, Joe Coffey wasnt impressed one bit by John Gotti, saying about him “John Gotti? “A cowboy … a thug …a moron … .nothing but scum.”
The photo shows Joseph Coffey & FBI Agent Joseph F O’Brien arresting Gambino Family boss Paul Castellano
The Coffey Files: One Cop’s War Against the Mob