Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Rat Pack' Party Girl Will Confront Former Cop/Mafia Hit Man in Court

Janie McCormick, of Vadnais Heights, will finally get the chance to throw the book at the former New York hero cop turned Mafia hit man who allegedly bamboozled her out of $45,000 of her life savings.

The book in this case is "Breaking My Silence,'' the title of McCormick's soon to be self-published memoir of her life as a childhood sex abuse victim and former Las Vegas "Rat Pack'' party girl during the 1960s and early '70s. The tale was supposed to first be a script that convicted rogue cop Louis Eppolito reportedly pledged to write himself and turn into a movie.

McCormick, whose encounter with the corrupt former cop before his federal racketeering trial was the subject of a 2005 column, was informed last week by federal authorities that they want her to testify against Eppolito at his federal tax-evasion trial.

The timing couldn't be better for McCormick. The book should be out shortly after the trial starts Sept. 24. "I want to look at that rat fink face to face,'' says McCormick, now a 66-year-old great-grandmother living the suburban life. "If I have the book in my hands, I just might throw it at him."

Eppolito, 57, and his former New York Police Department detective partner, Stephen Caracappa, were convicted last year of federal racketeering conspiracy charges for setting up or carrying out at least eight mob-directed slayings while they wore the badge.

The charges shocked even a city long accustomed to cyclical and high-profile police corruption scandals. The two men were sentenced to life prison terms. But a judge tossed aside the convictions a month later on the grounds that the five-year statute of limitations on racketeering had expired. The two men remain in custody pending appeal.

Before the New York trial, Eppolito and his wife were indicted in Las Vegas - where the two rogue cops relocated after their retirements - on charges the couple avoided paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in income taxes. The couple has denied wrongdoing.

The undeclared income came mostly from Eppolito's work selling movie scripts to Hollywood as well as his appearances as a character actor. Eppolito played bit roles in notable Hollywood films, including the classic mob flick "Goodfellas'' and Woody Allen's "Bullets Over Broadway.''

Receipts of the $45,000 McCormick allegedly paid Eppolito for the busted movie deal are part of the evidence federal prosecutors are expected to present at trial.

McCormick, who borrowed against a house-cleaning service she operated in the White Bear Lake area, Dust Busters of Minnesota, was forced to declare bankruptcy and set aside her quest to tell her story. The alleged scam nearly derailed the quest and also her desire to raise awareness about prostitution and sexual exploitation.

Surprisingly, Eppolito is barely a footnote in the book, which is told in a gritty and blunt style. It's a name-dropper sure to raise eyebrows, if not some controversy.

McCormick discloses in the book how a stepfather molested her. In dialogue-rich narrative, she also chronicles how that abuse, which stretched from when she was a toddler to adolescent years, paved the road to prostitution.

That journey ultimately led her to become, as she describes it, a member of the elite "Queen Bee'' club of casino call girls working Sin City.

She was dubbed "Baby Jane'' by the hotel casino pit bosses who matched her with high rollers, and most of McCormick's clients "were show business personalities or millionaires good for the hotel business,'' she writes in the book.

She describes liaisons with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, Vic Damone and comedians Joe E. Lewis and Jerry Lewis, whom she describes in the book as "one of the nicest men I ever met.''

She also relates how legendary golfer Sam Snead recruited her one time to keep rival Arnold Palmer up all night before the morning of a major Vegas tournament. Snead ended up winning it. McCormick recalls she got an expensive chinchilla jacket for her work.

She also details a traumatic abortion, an abusive "house pimp'' and shoddy silicone breast implants that led to a double mastectomy later in life.

Media communications and libel law attorney Mark Anfinson, hired by McCormick to vet the book, calls it "powerful and compelling stuff.''

"I'm very surprised that a publishing house has not picked this up,'' Anfinson said. "When you review copy for invasion-of-privacy concerns, you want to remain detached. But it was exceedingly hard to do with (the book) because it was so moving. It has a ring of authenticity as you go through it.''

McCormick hopes the book will give her some credibility as she tries to persuade legislators to enact tougher laws and enforcement directed at the demand side of the sex trade - the "johns.'' She believes, as others do, that American law enforcement has mostly given the customer a pass. She cites Sweden and Norway as countries that do a better job of going after the men who drive the trade.

She's dead right. As she writes in her book about the Rat Pack stars and other well-heeled Las Vegas clientele: "I often thought about how these men passed us working girls around like dessert trays ... I also wondered, after spending thousands of dollars on some dames, [how] these guys could go back to their wives and kids, hold up their heads, and look at themselves in the mirror.''

Thanks to Ruben Rosario

Mondera.com, Inc.

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