Douglas A. LeVien Jr., a former undercover police detective who in 1972 infiltrated the meeting ground used by New York’s five Mafia families, a landmark operation that produced scores of convictions, died on July 30 while vacationing in Saratoga, N.Y. He was 68.
Detective LeVien’s most celebrated cases include the 1972 sting, called Operation Gold Bug, which centered on a Brooklyn junkyard trailer in which known Mafiosi planned a spate of crimes. He also played a two-year role as a drug-dealing millionaire in an operation that snared Enzo Napoli, a representative of the Sicilian Mafia who served the Gambino and Lucchese crime families.
In later years, his investigative work aided prosecutions in the Abscam federal corruption trials, the fatal Howard Beach racial attack of 1986 and the “Mafia Cops” case of the 2000s, in which two former New York police detectives, Louis J. Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, were convicted of crimes, including murder, committed while in the pay of the Lucchese family.
During Detective LeVien’s time under cover, his life was a web of identities assumed and identities discarded, with an array of passports and driver’s licenses to match. His work encompassed seedy motel rooms and million-dollar yachts; diamonds, stolen artworks and kilos of heroin and cocaine; and long, painstaking efforts to penetrate a famously clannish brotherhood.