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Eugene L. Coon
Born November 15, 1929
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died October 15, 1998
Eugene L. Coon, Sr.
Chairperson of the
Allegheny County Democratic Party

In office
March 21, 1970 – June 1, 1978[1]
Preceded by Thomas Barrett
Succeeded by Cyril Wecht
Allegheny County Sheriff

In office
January 2, 1970[2] – December 27, 1997[3]
Preceded by William Davis
Succeeded by Pete DeFazio
Personal details
Political party Democratic Party
Alma mater University of Pittsburgh

Eugene L. Coon (November 15, 1929 – October 15, 1998)[4] was a long-time Sheriff of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania (serving Pittsburgh and its immediate suburbs) and an influential figure in the local Democratic Party.[5]

Early life

He graduated from, Perry High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1947.[6] He attended University of Pittsburgh, studying "prelaw."[6]

Army service

He served in the U.S. Army from 1947–48, then re-enlisted in 1950 for the Korean War, where he was a combat infantryman in the 1st Cavalry Division, serving until 1952.[5]

Law enforcement career

Coon began his career as an officer for the Pittsburgh Police in 1952, and rose through the ranks to assistant superintendent.[7] Coon was elected Sheriff in 1969, succeeding the retiring William Davis.[8] He was once called "America's Toughest Cop" by a men's magazine.[7] While he was head of the Pittsburgh homicide squad, the unit solved 57 homicides in a row.[7] He resigned from Pittsburgh in 1969[9] to run as a Democrat for Sheriff of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, a position he would hold through seven subsequent elections, ending his career in 1997. He became chair of the Allegheny County Democratic party in the early 1970s. He also ran unsuccessfully for Allegheny County Commissioner and Pittsburgh Mayor.[7]

Gene gained national recognition on January 3, 1983 when he refused to place homes of unemployed steel workers up for public sale following foreclosure proceedings.[10]

He was named to the Pennsylvania Police Hall of Fame on January 27, 1990 and served as a bagpiper in many a St. Patrick's Day parade. He died in his South Side home on Oct. 21, 1998, at age 68.[5][7][11][12][13]

FBI files

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This article does not contain any citations or references. Please improve this article by adding a reference. For information about how to add references, see Template:Citation.

It was revealed in 2011 by WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh that the FBI had kept extensive files on Sheriff Coon beginning in the early to mid-1970s and suspected him of "protecting" and "enforcing" for the Pittsburgh Mob, most notably Tony Grosso's organization.

No charges or public investigation were ever pursued, however the files connect Coon with the same organization that Federal investigators suspected in the death of District Attorney for Pittsburgh Robert Duggan in early 1974. Then-United States District Attorney, and later Governor of Pennsylvania, Richard Thornburgh chose to close the cases and the investigation by 1975.

Accident

In 1988 Sheriff Coon was involved as a pedestrian in an accident with a car, losing one of his legs because of injuries he had suffered.[14]

Rifle shots at party

While in his last term as Sheriff on November 6, 1994, Coon was disturbed at his suburban Donegal second home by a party target shooting next door while he was taking a nap. Pennsylvania State Police responded after Coon had attempted to have his neighbor quiet the party and exhausted in failing that, fired rifle shots to quiet the party crowd.[5][15]

References

  1. Uhl, Sherley (June 1, 1978). "Wecht At Dem Helm, Rips Party Dissidents". https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=rzIcAAAAIBAJ&sjid=O1gEAAAAIBAJ&pg=5888,22178&dq=cyril+wecht+democratic+chair&hl=en. Retrieved December 30, 2011. 
  2. Smock, Douglas (January 2, 1970). "Elected Officials Set For Oath Ceremonies". https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=hptRAAAAIBAJ&sjid=2mwDAAAAIBAJ&pg=4688,575082&dq=allegheny+county+sworn+in&hl=en. Retrieved December 30, 2011. 
  3. "Metropolitan Area News in Brief". December 29, 1997. http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_product=PI&s_site=philly&p_multi=PI&p_theme=realcities&p_action=search&p_maxdocs=200&p_topdoc=1&p_text_direct-0=0EB32F6B4B6377AD&p_field_direct-0=document_id&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D&s_trackval=GooglePM. Retrieved December 30, 2011. 
  4. "Eugene L. Coon". http://death-records.mooseroots.com/l/109233894/Eugene-L-Coon. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 O'Toole, James (1998-10-22). "Longtime sheriff Eugene Coon dies". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. PG Publishing. http://www.post-gazette.com/regionstate/19981022coon3.asp. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Eugene L. Coon, 63, Pittsburgh". P.G. Publishing Co.. May 11, 1993. p. E5. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 "Souls who enriched our lives, our region - Eugene Coon". Pittsburgh Tribune Review. Tribune-Review Publishing Co.. 2002-12-01. Archived from the original on 2007-03-24. https://web.archive.org/web/20070324123031/http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/specialreports/10year/s_105329.html. 
  8. "The New Sheriff". October 16, 1969. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=K88yAAAAIBAJ&sjid=C5YEAAAAIBAJ&pg=4642,114670&dq=eugene+coon+allegheny+county+sheriff&hl=en. Retrieved December 30, 2011. 
  9. "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Google News Archive Search". https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=I5xRAAAAIBAJ&sjid=02wDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6891,3121518. 
  10. "AROUND THE NATION; Pittsburgh Judge Halts Mortgage Foreclosures". Associated Press. January 6, 1983. https://www.nytimes.com/1983/01/06/us/around-the-nation-pittsburgh-judge-halts-mortgage-foreclosures.html. 
  11. Mistick, Joseph Sabino (2006-11-26). "The sheriff". Pittsburgh Tribune Review. The Tribune-Review Publishing Co.. http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/opinion/columnists/mistick/s_481249.html. 
  12. "Editorial -- Sheriff Coon". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. PG Publishing. 1998-10-28. http://www.post-gazette.com/forum/19981026edcoon2.asp. 
  13. Hritz, Tom (1998-10-25). "Born to be sheriff". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. PG Publishing. http://www.post-gazette.com/forum/19981025hritz5.asp. 
  14. "Editorial -- Sheriff Coon". http://www.post-gazette.com/forum/19981026edcoon2.asp. 
  15. "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Google News Archive Search". https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=5uJRAAAAIBAJ&sjid=QW8DAAAAIBAJ&pg=6033,1042476. 

External links

Law Enforcement Positions
Preceded by
Bill Davis
Allegheny County Sheriff
1970-1997
Succeeded by
Pete DeFazio

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