Monday, March 20, 2006

Detectives Were Hired for Contract Killing, Witness Says

Friends of mine: Louis J. Eppolito, Stephen Caracappa

Fleshing out his tale of gangland murder and corruption, an aging marijuana dealer told jurors at the trial of Louis J. Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa today that in 1986, the two New York detectives murdered a crooked jeweler in a parking garage and then, years later, laughed about the killing at a secret meeting in a Staten Island cemetery.

It was the second day of testimony by the dealer, Burton Kaplan, in the trial of the two detectives, who are accused of taking part in at least eight murders for Brooklyn's Luchese crime family.

Mr. Kaplan, who is serving a 27-year prison sentence, spun a mesmerizing yarn today about the shooting of Israel Greenwald, a jeweler who had made the grave mistake of crossing him in a scheme to selling stolen Treasury bills.

The marijuana dealer, 72 and ailing, spoke in gravelly, measured tones, saying that he had given the murder contract to Mr. Eppolito's cousin Frank Santora Jr. and that the cousin had then recruited the detective and his partner to stop Mr. Greenwald on the highway, tell him he was wanted in a hit-and-run accident and then assassinate him in cold blood.

"The guy was driving his car," Mr. Kaplan said Mr. Santora had informed him once the contract had been filled. "They put on the flashing lights and pulled him over and told him he was wanted in a hit-and-run and they wanted him to be in a lineup.

"They took him, according to Frank, to an automobile repair place, a collision place, that was a friend of theirs."

It was there, prosecutors say, that the three men bound Mr. Greenwald's hands, shoved a plastic bag on his head, secured it with his own scarf, then shot him twice in the head

Thanks to Alan Feuer

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