Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Mafia Cops' Accountant Sentenced to Only One Year in Prison Despite Stealing $5 Million + from Clients

A Connecticut accountant was sentenced Tuesday to a year in prison for stealing more than $5 million from his clients, winning a reduced sentence after authorities told a judge he risked his life as an essential witness in the conviction of two former New York City detectives for carrying out mob hits.

Stephen Corso, formerly of Ridgefield, faced the possibility of more than seven years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines. He is scheduled to surrender May 6 to serve his sentence of one year and one day.

Authorities say his extraordinary cooperation in the New York case was among the reasons he received the reduced sentence Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport.

Corso was an important government witness against detectives Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, who were accused of participating in eight mob-related killings while working for the Luchese crime family. The case was considered one of the worst cases of police corruption in New York history.

U.S. District Court Judge Janet Hall criticized Corso's thefts from his clients as "an extraordinary violation of trust," but said she considered his cooperation in the New York case when she sentenced him Tuesday. "I can't find the words to describe the value, at least in my judgment, of this cooperation," Hall said.

A New York jury found the detectives guilty in 2006, but a judge dismissed their racketeering case after determining the statute of limitations had passed on the slayings. A federal appeals court later reinstated the verdict.

Authorities who handled the case said Corso's role as an informant was critical to prove that the conspiracy occurred within the statute of limitations. "There never would have been justice without Mr. Corso's cooperation," Robert Henoch, a former New York prosecutor who handled the case, told Hall at Corso's sentencing Tuesday.

Prosecutors argued the murders were part of a conspiracy that lasted through a 2005 drug deal with Corso, who was an FBI informant.

Corso wore a wire while offering the detectives drug money to finance a film project at a 2004 meeting in Las Vegas. Eppolito, a decorated former detective and son of a mobster, was living in Las Vegas and trying to peddle screenplays and was unconcerned about the source of the cash.

Corso said at the time that he ripped off millions from his clients to finance a life of "girlfriends, jewelry and going out." Prosecutors say he also had significant gambling losses while living a second life in Las Vegas.

Susan Patrick, whose family lost more than $800,000 to Corso, said he was a family friend before the thefts. Corso has been ordered to pay restitution to the Patricks and other victims. "This started a six-year nightmare," she said Tuesday. "We will never be whole for our losses. I don't believe Mr. Corso is at all sorry."

Corso apologized to the victims and his family Tuesday during his sentencing. "I know that I hurt that trust," Corso said. "I am deeply sorry, not only to the Patricks but the others."

Thanks to John Christoffersen

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