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December 1, 1981

Robert Leuci, the inspiration for Robert Daley’s book Prince of the City (1978), spoke about his work in the Special Investigating Unit in the Narcotics Division of the New York City Police Department and about his role in informing on corrupt policemen within that division. “I never looked like a cop,” Leuci said, “The NYPD chose guys like me who didn’t look like cops to go into the Narcotics Bureau/Detective Division.” Of Leuci’s story of gradual moral “erosion”—drugs as bribes, illegal wiretaps, choosing to overlook minor crime in order to get along—said Julie Kaufman ’85 in The Miscellany News, “there were two parts…: negative and postitive. ‘The negative,’ Leuci explained, ‘occurs when you try to emulate the behavior or actions of people you admire…. Your morality and integrity disintegrate and a certain amount of criminality appears. You don’t even realize this is happening to you. Once you open your eyes, see what you’re doing and try to find ways to change, you enter positive erosion.’”

Leuci’s “positive” period began with his agreement to work undercover the the Federal Knapp Commission in a two-year investigaton of corruption that, “initially…focused on the criminal justice system, but ended by focusing on Leuci’s deparment. As a result…55 officers were arrested, Leuci’s partner and best friend both committed suicide. Leuci was sent to Governor’s island for three years with a 24-hour body guard.”

The Years