The Chicago Syndicate: Drug Dealer Testifies That He Met Accused 'Mafia Cops' in Cemetery

Monday, March 20, 2006

Drug Dealer Testifies That He Met Accused 'Mafia Cops' in Cemetery

Friends of ours: Lucchese Crime Family, Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso
Friends of mine: Louis Eppolito, Stephen Caracappa

Defendants joked about being stiffed on payments due in murders, witness says.

Nothing was sacred to the two accused "Mafia cops," not even a Staten Island cemetery, a convicted drug dealer told jurors yesterday in Brooklyn federal court.

Testifying for a second day, Burton Kaplan said that, as the envoy of Luchese crime family underboss Anthony (Gaspipe) Casso, he met NYPD detectives Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, formerly of Great Kills, in St. Mary's Cemetery, Elm Park.

Gallows humor was the order of the day, he said, as the cops laughed about being stiffed on payments due them for delivering up a Grasmere man to his death and murdering a Brooklyn jeweler. The pair, allegedly on a $4,000-a-month mob retainer, derided Casso for his reputed cheapness, particularly in connection with a mistaken-identity rubout, Kaplan noted.

"[Casso] got the address and number from a guy who worked at the gas company," Kaplan said of the Christmas Day 1986 hit -- not carried out by Eppolito and Caracappa -- on an innocent Brooklyn man.

"It was the wrong Nicky Guido who was killed. Frankie [Santora] and Louie [Eppolito] said the same thing: 'Gas should have paid the money [$4,000 to the detectives] and he would've got the right guy.'"

In arranging his meetings with the now ex-detectives, Kaplan recalled that he would contact Caracappa on his beeper "and put the number 259 behind it so he would know it was me."

Sometimes they met in the parking lot of a church near Caracappa's mother's house in South Beach, Kaplan said.

When Kaplan needed Eppolito, he said, he would call the robust detective's Long Island home. They'd meet at various Long Island locales, and sometimes Eppolito would drive to Kaplan's clothing warehouse on Port Richmond Avenue, the businessman testified.

Kaplan also dealt contraband out of Port Richmond, where he was busted in 1996 for trafficking in huge quantities of marijuana.

Kaplan said it was he who proposed that the two cops be put "on the books" in 1987, providing information on wiretaps, bugs, imminent arrests and names of "hot" police informants. Other jobs were extra.

Kaplan testified that when a scheme went awry, he asked for and received a Casso-sanctioned murder contract on an offending jeweler.

Kaplan said Caracappa, Eppolito and the latter's mobster cousin, Frank Santora, were paid $25,000 to kill "Jeweler No. 2" -- Kaplan couldn't recall the name of Israel Greenwald, who was shot dead in a Brooklyn parking garage after Caracappa and Eppolito allegedly pulled him over in their unmarked police car under the guise of investigating a hit-and-run.

Kaplan told jurors that he gave Santora $30,000 -- including a $5,000 bonus -- meant to be split three ways. But Santora pocketed the five grand, Kaplan said.

He said the cops and Santora were paid $35,000 to kidnap mob associate Jimmy Hydell, who was a marked man after he failed to kill Casso in a hit ordered by the Gambino crime family.

Kaplan said the pair found the Grasmere man in a laundermat in Brooklyn, threw him in the trunk and drove to the parking lot of the Toys "R" Us at Kings Plaza, where Casso and Kaplan were waiting.

Kaplan said he saw the two cops hovering near the entrance to the parking lot "as backup" before Casso told them to leave so he could murder Hydell.

Like the hit on the jeweler, Casso threw in an extra $5,000, which Santora also pocketed, Kaplan testified.

It wasn't until the three met in St. Mary's Cemetery that they realized Santora had done them dirty. "We were laughing about it," Kaplan recalled. "Louie said, 'That's typical of Frankie. Frankie put the rest in his pocket.'"

Thanks to Jeff Harrell

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