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Friday, May 17, 2024 | Back issues
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Cops Say ‘American Gangster’ Repeated Libel

MANHATTAN (CN) - A former New York cop claims New York Magazine defamed him by "republishing" a 2000 a story about a drug bust through the 2007 movie, "American Gangster." The original story, "The Return of Superfly," accused NYPD and DEA agents of stealing millions of dollars from a drug dealer.

The retired NYPD cop and a retired DEA agent sued on behalf of a putative class of 12 officers who took part in the Jan. 28, 1975 raid on Frank Lucas' house in Teaneck, N.J. They also sued Grove-Atlantic, Frank Lucas, reporter Frank Jacobson, and Primedia. The cops say they seized only $585,000 in the raid on Lucas' house, and it was accounted for.

Lucas was convicted of drug dealing and sentenced to 40 years in prison in 1975, the complaint states. New York Magazine published Jacobson's allegedly defamatory story, "The Return of Superfly," on Aug. 7, 2000. The story reports Lucas' accusation that the cops seized a lot more than the $585,000 they reported.

"For years, he has contended that the cops took a lot more than $585,000 from him," the story reported. "'Five hundred eight-five thousand, what's that? Shit. In Vegas, I'd lose 500 G's playing baccarat with a green-headed whore in half an hour.' According to Lucas, agents took something on the order of '9 to 10 million dollars' from him that fateful evening."

Plaintiffs James Haefner, an ex-NYPD cop, and Richard Crawford, an ex-DEA agent, say Lucas knew that was false, and that Jacobson and Primedia knew it or should have known it. They say the article was the basis of the libel that was repeated in the movie.

The retired cops are represented in New York County Court by Dominic Amorosa.

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