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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Time for "Mafia Cop" to Honor his Family

Friends of ours: Ralph "Fat the Gangster" Eppolito
Friends of mine: Louis Eppolito, Stephen Caracappa


"There are some things that you're taught as a child that stay with you the rest of your life. It's like a code you can't break. In my case, a Cosa Nostra code. And if following that code means having to face the consequences, even among friends, then so be it."

Excerpt from "Mafia Cop," by Louis Eppolito.

It's time. Time for Louie Eppolito to face the consequences.

Now that he has announced he will not even mount a defense against the charges that he kidnapped and murdered for money, it's time for the former detective to act like a man, and fall on a grenade for his family.

Last Wednesday I sat in the courtroom at the so-called Mafia cops trial where a sleazy accountant named Steven Corso - who became a federal wire-wearing mole in the nether world of Vegas - introduced a hit parade of audiotape of Eppolito and former partner Stephen Caracappa. On one tape, Corso, posing as a middleman who can get investors to pay Eppolito money to write a screenplay, says the Hollywood guys want designer drugs. Eppolito says, "Tony can do that."

Tony being his son, Anthony Eppolito. Here is a guy, Louie Eppolito, a former cop who likes to brag he's the 11th-most-decorated cop in NYPD history, involving his son in a drug bust so that he can scam $75,000 for a movie script. Which is $5,000 more than the feds say Louie Eppolito charged for a mob contract killing on the Belt Parkway.

As the audiotape played, Eppolito sat at the defense table nervously craning his neck like a man preparing for the gallows. Seated behind him his wife, Fran, looked as defeated as Edie Falco in the recent hospital scenes in "The Sopranos." Then came the videotape. Fran watched her son sell an ounce of methamphetamine to Corso for $900, for which he's facing major time in jail.

It gets worse.

Because Louie Eppolito failed to report chunks of money on his tax returns, which Fran Eppolito co-signed, she is also facing an income tax evasion rap. Not only is Louie Eppolito a dirty cop, say the feds, but he's also dragging his wife and son into prison with him. Real men don't do that. That's definitely not part of The Code. And there was more.

In the afternoon, Fran watched an attractive woman named Cabrini Cama, who took the witness stand for the prosecution, admit she began a six-year "relationship" with Eppolito in 1983, and confirmed that Eppolito met with Burton Kaplan, the prosecution's star witness, in her Brooklyn apartment.

For causing his wife so much public shame, for getting her and his son jammed up with the law, Louie Eppolito owes it to his family to end this charade and do the time for his crimes.

I asked one of the feds associated with this case if Eppolito could still come clean, fess up and tell the truth, in exchange for a promise of no jail time for his wife and son. "The time to do that was really before the trial started," the fed said. "But, hey, our door is open."

All through his book "Mafia Cop" Louis Eppolito writes about the hard-knock lessons he learned from his brutal Mafioso father, Ralph (Fat the Gangster) Eppolito, who often beat him with his fists, two-by-fours, even loaves of Italian bread across the face at the dinner table. All this was supposed to teach young Louie to be a "man."

Louie Eppolito was raised by wolves and therefore acted like a wild animal out there on the street wearing the uniform and badge of the NYPD, beating prisoners, killing people, laughing as cops gave roof leapers "diving scores" as they plunged to their deaths, according to the book.

Ha-ha-ha. But sit ringside at this trial and you know that Eppolito and Caracappa are so far behind on rounds that they need a lottery punch knockout to win. That could come only if the judge's jury charge is so narrow on the statute of limitations aspect of the case that the jury doesn't believe the 2004 drug bust set up by Eppolito in Vegas constitutes evidence of a continuing criminal enterprise under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) law.

But that's one scary roll of the dice. Especially because there's a strong possibility that if Eppolito and Caracappa are cleared on the statute of limitations technicality in Federal Court, the State of New York could charge them for murder, on which there is no statute of limitations.

In his "Mafia Cop" dedication to Fran, Eppolito writes, "To my wife, Frances, who has put up with me for the past 20 years. Her great love and understanding of me will always be a mystery waiting to be solved."

Indeed.

Thanks to Denis Hamill

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