Thursday, February 13, 2020

The Real French Connection Cops: My Washington Times 'On Crime' Column On Legendary Detectives Sonny Grosso And Randy Jurgensen

The Washington Times published my On Crime column about the real French Connection cops Sonny Grosso and Randy Jurgensen.

Legendary NYPD detective and film and TV producer Salvatore “Sonny” Grosso died last month. He was 89. He had come to fame as the detective who broke “The French Connection” case along with his partner, Eddie Egan, who died in 1995.

In the early 1960s, the detectives uncovered a plot by American organized crime and Corsican criminals from Marseille, France, to import 112 pounds of nearly pure heroin into New York City. The heroin was worth more than $90 million on the street.

Robin Moore, who wrote “The Green Berets,” interviewed the detectives and wrote “The French Connection: A True Account of Cops, Narcotics and International Conspiracy” in 1969. The book led to the Academy Award-winning film, “The French Connection” in 1971.

Grosso and Egan worked as technical advisers on te film, and they appeared on the screen in supporting roles. NYPD detective Randy Jurgensen, who was on the periphery of the famous case, also worked as a technical adviser and supporting actor on the film. Detective Jurgensen became Grosso’s partner after Egan retired.  

I contacted Randy Jurgensen and asked him about his former partner.   

“My childhood friend and partner Sonny Grosso passed over last month,” Mr. Jurgensen said. “He was the best man at my wedding, and he was the godfather to one of my children.”

He said that he and Grosso grew up in West Harlem and although Grosso was five years older, they both served in the Korean War together. There were few jobs available after the war, so the two became police officers.

Sonny became a cop about 18 months before I did and when I graduated from the police academy, I was assigned to East Harlem. On the day I showed up at the 2-5 precinct, Sonny Grosso was there waiting for me,” Mr. Jurgensen said. “I spent about 18 months in uniform and then I worked undercover in narcotics.

“I worked the streets buying narcotics and Sonny and Eddie worked on narcotics distributors. I worked on the outside of the French Connection case.”

After “The French Connection” film, Detectives Grosso and Jurgensen became technical advisers on “The Godfather.” Grosso portrayed the detective who advised Capt. McCloskey (Sterling Hayden) that Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) was a war hero and not a mobster. The director also used Grosso’s service revolver in the scene where Michael Corleone murdered a rival mobster and McCloskey, dropping the .38 revolver on the floor as he walked out. Mr. Jurgensen portrayed one of the gunmen who brutally murdered Sonny Corleone (James Caan).

The two also appeared together in “The Seven-Ups,” which was based on Grosso’s career, and they appeared with Al Pacino in “Cruising,” a film based on one of Mr. Jurgensen’s cases. They also worked together on other films and TV programs.     

You can read the rest of the column below or via the below link:

Note: The top photo shows from left to right Randy Jurgensen, Sonny Grosso, Eddie Egan and actor Gene Hackman in the film, The French Connection. 

The below photos show Randy Jurgensen, Sonny Grosso and Eddie Egan in the films The French ConnectionCruising, and The Godfather.

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