By Jorge I. Domínguez-López and Matthew O’Connor
The late NYPD Detective Doug LeVien was honored for his extraordinary work as a mafia crimefighter. LeVien received the Jack and Helen Como Award at the Lt. Det. Joseph Petrosino Association annual awards dinner in Howard Beach, May 2.
After serving in the Marines, LeVien’s life began to play out like a Hollywood movie. He made history when he posed as a crooked cop and wore a wire to collect evidence in the corruption-busting “Gold Bug” investigation and when he infiltrated the Sicilian mafia in New York City as wise guy Tommy Russo. Additionally, he became the only detective to be placed in the witness protection program when he was set to testify.
LeVien was also a member of the New York Organized Crime Strike Force and co-author of the book “The Mafia Handbook.”
Honoring His Son
The detective’s son was also honored at the awards dinner. Vincent LeVien is the director of External Affairs for DeSales Media Group, the communications and technology arm of the Diocese of Brooklyn and the parent company of The Tablet, Currents News and Nuestra Voz.
“Vincent honors his Dad and carries on his legacy by living a life of service to others as a member of many philanthropic organizations,” read a statement from the Lt. Det. Joseph Petrosino Association.
“Being able to be here and honor my father is wonderful and am honored to do so,” Vincent Levien said. “He was a man that always cared for his family and was always trying to give back. He taught me and my brother honor and loyalty. He taught us to always do the right thing. He was a man that always wanted to give back and protect the people and city that he loved. Tonight, we honor his legacy.”
Also referring to the legendary detective and his son Vincent, Bob Fonti, president of the Petrosino Association in America said, “Douglas LeVien was the modern-day Det. Petrosino. Having his son here to carry on the legacy of both men is a tremendous honor. Douglas and his son Vincent live it every day and give so much back. They always have cared for their families and community and make sure they do everything they can to give back and help the people they love.”
The other honorees include Marian U. Prado, president of Columbus Citizens Foundation; George Winkler, 33-year police veteran who serves as the NYC Police Benevolent Association trustee for Lower Manhattan and Staten Island; Joseph Sciame, president/chair of the Italian Heritage and Culture Committee, NY, and Gianluca Mech, president of Gianluca Mech SPA.
Lt. Det. Joseph Petrosino
The late Lt. Det. Joseph Petrosino was a pioneer in the fight against organized crime. This year marks the 110th anniversary of when Petrosino was gunned down while on an undercover operation for the NYPD in Sicily. Some of the techniques he created to fight against organized crime in New York are still used today.
“We never forget our fallen heroes,” said Msgr. Robert Romano, who is the NYPD’s deputy chief chaplain. “Joseph Petrosino’s name is remembered 110 years later and that shows that this city and this police department has such care for each and every one of their heroes. Petrosino was an American hero and we still honor him tonight and that all the honorees for the work they do in his name and legacy.”