The Chicago Syndicate: Closing Arguments Begin in Colorful 'Mafia Cops' Trial

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Closing Arguments Begin in Colorful 'Mafia Cops' Trial

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

Two ex-police detectives betrayed their badges by becoming hired guns for the Mafia, a prosecutor said Monday during closing arguments at their federal racketeering trial.

Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa "led double lives," helping unleash a wave of violence that left eight people dead, prosecutor Daniel Wenner told the jury. "They gathered and sold information to the mob. They kidnapped for the mob. They murdered for the mob," Wenner said. The prosecutor described the case as "the bloodiest, most violent betrayal of the badge this city has ever seen."

Caracappa's lawyer, Edward Hayes, countered by accusing the government of using the testimony of a convicted drug dealer, a gangster and an embezzler to frame an honest crime fighter. The witnesses "have conned people their whole lives," he said. The decorated detective "has no vices," Hayes said. "He doesn't have a secret life. ... What would possibly motivate him to betray everything? Nothing."

Authorities allege Eppolito, 57, and Caracappa, 64, were involved in eight slayings between 1986 and 1990 while on the payroll both of the New York Police Department and Luchese crime family underboss Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso.

The "Mafia Cops" are accused of accepting $4,000 a month to help Casso silence informants and rub out rivals.

The partners retired to Las Vegas in the early 1990s but were arrested a year ago because of new evidence. It included the eyewitness account of a tow truck driver who managed a parking garage where a jeweler was executed in 1986 after running afoul of the Luchese family. The driver testified last week that he was forced to dig the jeweler's grave while Eppolito stood guard.

During three weeks of testimony, the jury also heard allegations that the partners gunned down a Gambino family captain, Eddie Lino, in 1990 after pulling over his car in a phony traffic stop.

Another victim had the misfortune of having the same name as a mobster involved in a botched hit on Casso; when the underboss wanted revenge, the detectives allegedly provided an address for the wrong Nicholas Guido, who was killed outside his home in 1986.

Defense attorneys have argued that the five-year statute of limitations has expired on the most serious crimes. Prosecutors say the killings were part of a conspiracy that lasted through a 2005 drug deal with FBI informant Steven Corso.

Eppolito's lawyer was to give his closing argument on Tuesday.

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