Robert Leuci, a rogue cop turned informer whose perilous undercover work as a so-called Prince of the City in the 1970s exposed endemic corruption among fellow detectives in an elite New York City narcotics unit, died on Monday at his home in Saunderstown, R.I. He was 75.
Nicholas Scoppetta, the former prosecutor who had persuaded Mr. Leuci to cooperate, said the cause was complications after surgery. No other details were given.
“He was a guy on the wrong side of the law who wanted to be on the right side and who was willing to risk his life to get there,” Mr. Scoppetta said on Tuesday.
Mr. Leuci’s stunning revelations to federal and local investigators belied the claim that even corrupt police officers drew the line at taking dirty money from drug dealers; he told of detectives’ reselling the heroin and the cocaine they had seized.
Why Mr. Leuci agreed to cooperate with the Knapp Commission was never entirely clear. Some colleagues believed he foresaw a sweeping investigation and wanted to get ahead of it, even though, when Mr. Scoppetta summoned him, the commission lacked sufficient evidence to charge him.
“If there was any motivating force in my cooperating, I think it was guilt, not fear,” he told the writer Nicholas Pileggi in New York magazine in 1981.