This is a dazzling work of nonfiction that traces the story of Robert Leuci, a young detective with the New York City Police Department who came to a crossroads in his life and found himself confronted with whom he had become and, apparently, did not like what he saw. As a team leader in the elite and now defunct Special Investigations Unit (SIU) of the Narcotics division during the late nineteen sixties and early seventies, Leuci was involved in many large narcotics takedowns and, consequently, the corruption that then often ensued.
In early 1971, Leuci was called to appear before the Commission to investigate Alleged Police Corruption, which was known as the Knapp Commission. Although the commission had no evidence of wrongdoing by Leuci, it had called him in to ask about some of the detectives that he had worked with in SIU. Leuci, at the time, refused to give up his fellow officers, claiming that the whole criminal justice arena, including the lawyers and the courts, were corrupt. Leuci was interviewed by Nicholas Scoppetta, a former Manhattan Assistant District Attorney with the Knapp Commission (and now the current New York City Fire Department Commissioner). After interviewing him, Scoppetta decided to leave the Knapp Commission and persuaded the federal government to undertake a probe into the entire criminal justice system of New York City with Detective Robert Leuci as its linchpin, an investigation that the federal government agreed to undertake.
The book details Detective's Leuci's personal exploits, as he fearlessly helped the federal government make its cases against lawyers, bail bondsmen, and other cops. For years, Leuci walked a fine line, continuing his work as a NYPD detective while working as a confidential informant for the feds, often at great risk to his life. The details of his exploits are riveting, as they expose the seamy side of a criminal justice system that, at the time, was truly corrupt at so many levels. Moreover, Leuci's personal angst in trying to keep his detective friends from becoming embroiled in the investigation is palpable throughout the book, as is Leuci's innate sense of fair play.
Leuci himself had previously been on the take, a fact of which the feds were aware. It was the extent to which Leuci had been on the take that the Feds were unaware. Leuci's perfidy was not revealed in its entirety until the government had made many arrests, grand juries had handed down indictments, and defendants had been tried and convicted. Leuci had worked with Rudolf Giuliani, who was then a young Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of the State of New York. It was to Giuliani that Leuci eventually unburdened himself. I have to commend Giuliani for the compassion that he extended to Leuci, a man who was clearly on the verge of a nervous breakdown after leading a double life for years and who, for so long, had internalized his anxiety over his own and his friends' involvement in the corruption that was at the heart of the investigation.
This is a well-written and moving true story of a cop who knew too much and was eventually made to sing. This is a great book upon which the wonderful, gritty film, "Prince of the City", starring Treat Williams, was based. Those who are interested in the criminal justice arena or are cop buffs will especially enjoy this book, as well as the film. Bravo!
Love this book It's a racy account of police life in 70`s NYC corruption drugs guns deals mafia the whole melting pot Familiar names crop up in the text and the fragile macho psyche of that era is well documented throughout