Monday, April 13, 2009

Mafia Turf War Breaks Out in Brooklyn

There's a new Mafia turf war in Brooklyn - but this time, it's the prosecutors who are doing battle.

Michael Vecchione, the rackets bureau chief in the Brooklyn district attorney's office, has rankled the feds by claiming in a new book that they swiped the celebrated Mafia cops case and then hogged all the glory.

Vecchione complains in "Friends of the Family: The Inside Story of the Mafia Cops Case" that federal prosecutors claimed most of the credit for nailing crooked NYPD Detectives Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa.

While turf battles between local and federal law enforcement agencies are common, Vecchione's stinging criticism is unusual because he still works for the district attorney and is supposed to cooperate with the feds on ongoing cases.

"I don't see how anybody can deal with him after he's violated the sanctity of confidential conversations for mercenary reasons," a federal law enforcement source said.

The feds agreed to let Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes' office announce arrests and prosecute one of the murders linked to the Mafia cops, the book claims. But they went back on their word, according to the book, which Vecchione wrote with retired NYPD Detective Thomas Dades and author David Fisher.

"For them to tell us that they didn't say exactly what they said to me was such an act of cowardice and betrayal that I couldn't find words to explain it," Vecchione said.

Eppolito, 60, and Caracappa, 67, were convicted in 2006 of participating in eight murders for Luchese crime boss Anthony (Gaspipe) Casso and leaking confidential information to the gangster.

Casso revealed in 1994 the cops had been on his payroll for years. But the feds couldn't make a case against the rogue detectives until a decade later when Dades and the district attorney's office helped expose their involvement in the murder of a mob associate.

Vecchione unleashed his harshest attack on Greg Andres, the current criminal division chief of the U.S. attorney's office.

"As far as Vecchione was concerned, Andres was a typically arrogant poker-up-his-ass, know-it-all fed," the book states. "His animosity toward Andres went back to a wiseguy case ... in which Andres [credited] the FBI for work it hadn't done."

Hynes, who approved Vecchione's book deal, insisted there's no feud. "Our working relationships with the U.S. attorney's office are excellent and any bump in the road that might have occurred was just that. There are no problems between us and I don't expect any," Hynes said.

Andres and U.S. Attorney Benton Campbell declined comment. But former top federal prosecutors panned the book.

"Public confidence in the integrity of the Brooklyn DA's office is only eroded when a rackets bureau chief writes and shops a book about a murder case he is investigating and preparng for trial," said George Stamboulidis, managing partner of the law firm Baker Hostetler.

Thomas Seigel, the former chief of the U.S. attorney's organized crime section - who was not involved in the Mafia cops case - said: "The incredibly dedicated members of state and federal law enforcement typically and laudably refrain from criticizing their colleagues in the press, let alone a book, over internal squabbles. It is hard to see how law enforcement as a whole benefits from such personal and public criticism."

Vecchione and Dades wrote the book three years ago but held off its publication until the defendants had exhausted their appeals.

The 2006 jury verdict was thrown out by Judge Jack Weinstein on a legal technicality but reinstated by the U.S. Court of Appeals. The cops were recently sentenced to life in prison.

Thanks to John Marzulli

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