The Chicago Syndicate: Key Witness to be Recalled in Trial of 2 'Mafia Cops'

Monday, April 03, 2006

Key Witness to be Recalled in Trial of 2 'Mafia Cops'

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

Burton Kaplan, the government's star witness in the "Mafia cops" trial, already has told jurors that Louis Eppolito and former Great Kills resident Stephen Caracappa peddled information to the mob about police wiretaps, names of confidential informants and imminent arrests.

The two ex-cops also moonlighted as hit men, he testified. But Anthony (Gaspipe) Casso, a bloodthirsty mobster who reputedly had the two former detectives on retainer, has said from prison that they were framed. So yesterday, Caracappa's lawyer Edward Hayes told U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein that he intends to recall Kaplan for questioning.

On Thursday, Casso told defense attorneys in a confidential phone conference that he had penned two letters to federal authorities claiming that he and Kaplan, with the backing of a corrupt FBI agent, had concocted the dirty-cops story.

Because prosecutors didn't reveal the Casso letters during pretrial discovery sessions, attorney Bettina Schein, co-counsel with Eppolito's lawyer Bruce Cutler, asked Weinstein to declare a mistrial.

Weinstein denied the bid. And after Cutler and Caracappa counsel Edward Hayes told the judge they would not call Casso as a witness, Weinstein refused to allow the jury to see the letters.

The judge also ordered the defense to limit its questions to Kaplan to new material.

Hayes participated in yesterday's court session by speakerphone from California. "You're supposed to be here in court," an obviously irked Weinstein told the absent attorney. "I'm only speaking with you on the phone as a courtesy to you and your client."

In testimony, retired Detective Leslie Shanahan told jurors that he and Caracappa worked back-to-back tours for nearly 30 hours straight on the day of the Eddie Lino rub-out. Caracappa is accused of pulling the trigger.

Kaplan is due to return to the stand when the trial resumes Monday morning.

Thanks to Jeff Harrell

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