Eugene Coon

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Eugene L. Coon, Sr.
Born Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Other names Gene
Police career
Department Pittsburgh Police
Allegheny County Sheriff
Years of service 1952–1969
(Pittsburgh Police)
(Allegheny Sheriff)
Rank 5 Gold Stars.svg - Elected Sheriff
US-O4 insignia.svg - "Detective in Charge" of Vice
Chicago PD Sergeant Stripes.png - Sergeant
Commissioned as a Patrolman
1952- 1957
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. "Gene" Coon (1929–1998)[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.

Early life[edit]

He graduated from, Perry High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1947.[5] He attended University of Pittsburgh, studying "prelaw."[5]

Army service[edit]

He served in the U.S. Army from 1947 to 1948, then re-enlisted in 1950 for the Korean War, where he was a combat infantryman in the 1st Cavalry Division, serving until 1952.[4]

Law enforcement career[edit]

Coon began his career as an officer for the Pittsburgh Police in 1952, and rose through the ranks to assistant superintendent.[6] Coon was elected Sheriff in 1969, succeeding the retiring William Davis.[7] He was once called "America's Toughest Cop" by a men's magazine.[6] While he was head of the Pittsburgh homicide squad, the unit solved 57 homicides in a row.[6] He resigned from Pittsburgh in 1969[8] 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.[6]

He became chair of the Allegheny County Democratic party in the early 1970s. He also ran unsuccessfully for Allegheny County Commissioner and Pittsburgh Mayor.[6]

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.[9]

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.[6][10][11][12][4]

FBI files[edit]

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.[13] No charges nor 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 U.S. District Attorney, and later Governor of Pennsylvania and U.S. District Attorney, Richard Thornburgh chose to close the cases and the investigation by 1975.


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[edit]

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.[4][15]

See also[edit]

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


  1. ^ Uhl, Sherley (June 1, 1978). "Wecht At Dem Helm, Rips Party Dissidents". The Pittsburgh Press. Retrieved December 30, 2011. 
  2. ^ Smock, Douglas (January 2, 1970). "Elected Officials Set For Oath Ceremonies". The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved December 30, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Metropolitan Area News in Brief". The Philadelphia Inquirer. December 29, 1997. Retrieved December 30, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d O'Toole, James (1998-10-22). "Longtime sheriff Eugene Coon dies". Pittsburgh Post Gazette. PG Publishing. 
  5. ^ a b "Eugene L. Coon, 63, Pittsburgh". Pittsburgh Post Gazette. P.G. Publishing Co. May 11, 1993. pp. E5. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Souls who enriched our lives, our region - Eugene Coon". Pittsburgh Tribune Review. Tribune-Review Publishing Co. 2002-12-01. 
  7. ^ "The New Sheriff". The Pittsburgh Press. October 16, 1969. Retrieved December 30, 2011. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ "AROUND THE NATION; Pittsburgh Judge Halts Mortgage Foreclosures". New York Times. Associated Press. January 6, 1983. 
  10. ^ Mistick, Joseph Sabino (2006-11-26). "The sheriff". Pittsburgh Tribune Review. The Tribune-Review Publishing Co. 
  11. ^ "Editorial -- Sheriff Coon". Pittsburgh Post Gazette. PG Publishing. 1998-10-28. 
  12. ^ Hritz, Tom (1998-10-25). "Born to be sheriff". Pittsburgh Post Gazette. PG Publishing. 
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^

External links[edit]