The Chicago Syndicate: Anthony Casso
The Mission Impossible Backpack

Showing posts with label Anthony Casso. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Anthony Casso. Show all posts

Friday, September 23, 2016

Police Corruption and Cover-ups Surround "The Brotherhood - The True Story of Two Cops Who Murdered for the Mafia"

In 1994, an underboss of the Lucchese crime family, Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, flipped. He was in federal custody, facing numerous murder and racketeering counts, when he informed FBI agents that, in return for a "pad" of $4,000 a month, two New York City Police Department detectives had regularly slipped him confidential information from police and FBI organized-crime files: names and addresses of confidential informants (who were then knocked off), tipoffs on raids and phone taps, and advance warnings of arrests.

For almost a decade, Casso said that the two detectives, Stephen Caracappa and Louis Eppolito, conducted secret investigations for the Lucchese family. Eventually, Casso claimed, he hired the detectives as hit men. They used their badges to put unsuspecting gangland targets at ease, killed them and collected payoffs of up to $100,000.

What makes "Brotherhoods: The True Story of Two Cops Who Murdered for the Mafia" even more alarming is the criminal negligence of law-enforcement officials, who showed little interest in bringing Caracappa and Eppolito to justice. "The Brotherhoods" chronicles years of egregious police corruption and the stupefying bureaucratic indifference that allowed it to flourish. It was not until 11 years after Casso first fingered the two cops that they were finally arrested.

After receiving life sentences, the two had their convictions thrown out by a judge who ruled that the statute of limitations had expired. At the time of their arrest, a Drug Enforcement Administration agent said, "It's been a long time coming." Well, it's still not over. The book closes with the government's appeal of the ruling.

Investigative journalist Guy Lawson teamed up for this book with William Oldham, a retired NYPD detective who spearheaded the police corruption investigation as an investigator for the U.S. attorney's office in Brooklyn. Oldham brings an insider's insight and analysis to this absorbing book, which serves as a cautionary tale to all police departments. Because the NYPD brass did not assiduously follow up on the signs of corruption, the job of every cop in the department became more difficult.

Eppolito and Caracappa were longtime best friends and former partners as young detectives in south Brooklyn. Thin, quiet and with a preference for dark suits, Caracappa was called "the Prince of Darkness" by other detectives. He was also one of the department's top detectives, a go-to guy in the elite Major Case Squad, which investigated high-profile, difficult cases. Caracappa had "written the book on organized crime murders in New York," the authors explain. "If a wise guy was killed in Queens or the Bronx and the homicide detective who caught the case wanted to know how his victim fit in the Mafia, he would look in Caracappa's book for connections."

Eppolito, on the other hand, was "fat, loud, foul-mouthed ... with a thick mustache and a taste for gold chains. ... He was a conspicuous cop - he dressed like a wise guy." He also wrote a memoir called "Mafia Cop: The Story of an Honest Cop Whose Family Was the Mob." Given his family's connections with organized crime, it is remarkable that NYPD screeners let Eppolito onto the force. His grandfather - "Diamond Louie" - and his father - "Fat the Gangster" - were members of the Gambino crime family.

Eppolito served as his father's bagman when he was a boy, handing cash to local cops so they wouldn't break up Fat the Gangster's dice and poker games. At his father's funeral - where the FBI took surveillance photos of the numerous organized-crime figures in attendance - Eppolito was slipped notes by wise guys.

After killing time at a no-work job set up by a Gambino relative, Eppolito decided to join the NYPD. To Eppolito's way of thinking, he was simply exchanging one brotherhood for another.

Eppolito retired before his memoir was published; Caracappa didn't. He was still on the force, and in the author's note for "Mafia Cop," Eppolito calls him "my closest and dearest friend." When Oldham came across a copy of Eppolito's memoir in the early 1990s, he was assigned to the Major Case Squad along with Caracappa. Oldham was stunned that Caracappa, who had access to the department's most sensitive intelligence, would be best friends with a dubious character like Eppolito. That was Oldham's first clue that the Mafia might have made inroads into the NYPD.

When Casso told federal authorities about Caracappa and Eppolito's criminality, Oldham assumed investigations would be launched. When the detectives later retired to Las Vegas and bought homes in a luxury development across the street from each other, Oldham was outraged. The crooked cops had skated. Oldham decided to investigate the case himself - first as an NYPD detective and later from the U.S. attorney's office.

In 2004, Oldham's situation improved, as the book relates: "Finally ... a small group of detectives and investigators came together to work on the investigation. Oldham called them 'the cadre.' ... They were all determined to see that justice was done. All of the voluminous information Oldham had gathered over the years was examined anew. More evidence was uncovered. Compelling connections between 'the cops' and long-forgotten murders were unearthed. Even with the accumulated facts, Oldham knew the case needed someone inside the conspiracy ... to take the disparate strands of the case and pull them together. He needed a storyteller."

Oldham found him in "Downtown" Burt Kaplan, a colorful Jewish gangster who was one of the most notorious dealers in stolen goods in New York. It was Kaplan who first made contact with the two detectives; it was Kaplan who set them up with organized-crime figures, and it was Kaplan who ultimately turned on them and testified in court.

Of course, it shouldn't have taken until 2005 to convict Caracappa and Eppolito. Shortly after teaming up in the 1970s, they accumulated numerous Internal Affairs complaints, including cash stolen from arrestees and money missing from a homicide scene. When the nephew of crime boss Carlo Gambino was busted for attempting to set up a major heroin deal with an FBI undercover agent, agents searching the house discovered a confidential NYPD Intelligence Divisions file. The FBI ran the documents for fingerprints, and they matched Eppolito's.

"Eppolito had a long, contorted explanation for how his fingerprints had magically appeared on a police department intelligence document found in a Gambino's house," Oldham recalled. "I wasn't buying it."

After the two cops retired, Oldham continued to try and bring them down. He told his NYPD supervisor about the trail he'd followed and the evidence he had collected. "He didn't want to hear about it. He said the words slowly, carefully enunciating them. 'I do not want to hear about that case ever again. Understand?'" Oldham recalled. "Catching Caracappa and Eppolito would ... hurt the whole department. Certain people think cops go bad every day. This would just confirm it."

"The Brotherhoods" is the anti-"Sopranos." Instead of yarns about colorful mobsters who believe in family, honor and omert ... , the book provides a glimpse of the New Millennium Mafia: arrested mobsters who start singing as soon as the cuffs are on, and crime bosses who let the families of loyal soldiers doing time live in penury. The book is long and dense, and it would have benefited from the perspective and insight of other detectives in "the cadre." On the other hand, readers will find this an important and well-told story.

Thanks to Miles Corwin

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Butcher: Anatomy of a Mafia Psychopath

Philip Carlo was a tough guy -- really.

The prolific Brooklyn-born writer, spent most of his career writing about really bad people, such as L.A. serial killer Richard Ramirez (The Night Stalker (Pinnacle True Crime)), Luchese family mobster Anthony ``Gaspipe'' Casso (Gaspipe: Confessions of a Mafia Boss) and merciless Gambino contract killer Richard Kuklinski (The Ice Man: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer).

For his book, The Butcher: Anatomy of a Mafia Psychopath, the intrepid author tracked down Tommy Pitera, a capo in New York's Bonanno crime family. Carlo got up close and personal with this infamous assassin, who presided over a huge drug-selling operation in the '80s and is currently serving seven life sentences.

Though the pictures are in black and white -- they get the, um, point across.


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Gaspipe: Confessions of a Mafia Boss

Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso is currently serving thirteen consecutive life sentences plus 455 years at a federal prison in Colorado. Now, for the first time, the head of a mob family has granted complete and total access to a journalist. Casso has given New York Times bestselling author Philip Carlo the most intimate, personal look into the world of La Cosa Nostra ever seen. "Gaspipe: Confessions of a Mafia Boss" is his shocking story.

From birth, Anthony Casso's mob life was preordained. Michael Casso introduced his young son around South Brooklyn's social clubs, where "men of honor" did business by shaking pinkie-ringed hands—hands equally at home pilfering stolen goods from the Brooklyn docks or gripping the cold steel of a silenced pistol. Young Anthony watched and listened and decided that he would devote his life to crime.

Casso would prove his talent for "earning," concocting ingenious schemes to hijack trucks, rob banks, and bring into New York vast quantities of cocaine, marijuana, and heroin. Casso also had an uncanny ability to work with the other Mafia families, and he forged unusually strong ties with the Russian mob. By the time Casso took the reins of the Lucchese family, he was a seasoned boss, a very dangerous man.

It was a great life—Casso and his beautiful wife, Lillian, had money to burn; Casso and his crew brought in so much cash that he had dozens of large safe-deposit boxes filled with bricks of hundred-dollar bills. But the law finally caught up with him in his New Jersey safe house in 1994. Rather than stoically face the music like the old-time mafiosi he revered, Casso became the thing he most hated—a rat. It broke his family's heart and made the once feared and revered mobster an object of scorn and disgust among his former friends. For it turned out that a lifetime of street smarts completely failed him in dealing with a group even more cunning and ruthless than the Mafia—the U.S. government.

Detailing Casso's feud with John Gotti and their attempts to kill each other, the "Windows Case" that led to the beginning of the end for the mob in New York, and Casso's dealings with decorated NYPD officers Lou Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa—the "Mafia cops"—Gaspipe is the inside story of one man's rise and fall, mirroring the rise and fall of a way of life, a roller-coaster ride into a netherworld few outsiders have ever dared to enter.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Mafia Cops's Victim's Families Given Green-Light in Wrongful-Death Lawsuits

A federal judge has green-lighted the multimillion-dollar wrongful-death lawsuits filed against the city by the families of seven men slain in mob hits executed or aided by former two detectives Louis Eppolito and ex-Great Kills resident Stephen Caracappa.

In allowing the cases to proceed, District Judge Raymond J. Dearie said there was evidence to suggest the rubouts would not have occurred had Eppolito been kicked off the force or disciplined after he was "caught red-handed" passing confidential police records to a mobster in 1984.

The slayings took place between 1986 and 1991.

Dearie said evidence also indicated there was a "systemic failure" to address corruption under then-Police Commissioner Benjamin Ward. "The failure to discipline a detective who colludes with organized crime plainly courts the risk that that detective will do so again," wrote Dearie. "And it is likewise obvious that collusion between a police detective and organized crime might well lead, as it did in these cases, to unconstitutional harm to members of the public."

The judge further ruled the plaintiffs' families, who filed the suits in 2006 and 2007, had done so within statutory time limits.

Caracappa, 72, and Eppolito, 66, the so-called "Mafia Cops," are serving life sentences for their roles in the slayings, carried out at the behest of Luchese crime family underboss Anthony (Gaspipe) Casso, who later cooperated with authorities.

The two detectives were paid $4,000 a month to provide Casso with law-enforcement information. They received extra cash for murder contracts, including $70,000 for a hit on Eddie Lino, a Gambino crime family capo suspected of being involved in a failed assassination attempt on Casso, the ruling said.

Eppolito, whose father was a member of the Gambino crime family, retired from the NYPD in 1990. He played a bit part in Martin Scorsese's 1990 mob drama "GoodFellas" and launched an unsuccessful career as a screenwriter.

Caracappa retired in 1992 after establishing the Police Department's unit for mob murder investigations. In 2005, while awaiting trial to start and after posting bail, Caracappa had stayed with his mother in South Beach.

Eppolito, then working in the 62nd Precinct in Brooklyn's Bath Beach neighborhood, came under scrutiny in 1984. FBI agents found confidential NYPD Intelligence Reports in the home of mobster Rosario Gambino, who was under indictment for heroin trafficking, said the judge's ruling.

A probe determined the reports had been photocopied at the 62nd Precinct and Eppolito's fingerprints were on the photocopies, the judge said. Eppolito subsequently underwent a departmental trial which cleared him, despite "compelling" evidence against him, said the judge. The trial was prosecuted by a junior NYPD lawyer and was based on stipulations between the parties, not live testimony, which was unusual, Dearie said.

Commissioner Ward declined to overturn the findings, although a follow-up Internal Affairs probe after the hearing again concluded that Eppolito had leaked the reports, said the judge.

Dearie said a report by the Mollen Commission provides "powerful evidence" that the Police Department at that time "tolerat(ed) corruption to avoid bad publicity." He said the NYPD's "inexplicable failure" to discipline Eppolito may have emboldened Caracappa.

Eppolito started his relationship with the Luccheses after being cleared of the charges, the ruling started.

His cohort Caracappa, who worked for the NYPD's Major Case Squad, was specifically assigned to the Lucchese unit. He often worked on joint NYPD and federal task forces and had access to confidential information about ongoing investigations, said the judge.

Besides whacking Lino, the pair slayed an innocent victim, Israel Greenwald, a Diamond District jeweler, according to the ruling and Advance filings. They also provided information which factored into the slayings of five others, including another innocent victim, Nicholas Guido of Brooklyn, said the judge. And they were convicted of kidnapping Jimmy Hydell in 1986 and delivering him to Casso to be executed in retaliation for a botched attempted on Casso's life, said Advance reports. Hydell's mother, Betty Hydell, testified she saw the two detectives casing her Grasmere home in an unmarked police car the day her son vanished.

The city maintained the cases should be tossed because the plaintiffs did not file them until decades after their loved ones' deaths.

The plaintiffs contended they were not required to commence the lawsuits until they had some reason to link police to the killings. Eppolito and Caracappa were indicted in 2005.

Dearie sided with the plaintiffs and declined to throw out the suits.

A spokesman said the city Law Department is reviewing the decision.

Thanks to Frank Donnelly.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Final Chapter for The "Mafia Cops"

I like a mob story as well as the next guy, but "The Godfather" this ain't.

Still, somebody has to sweep up after the elephants in the "Mafia Cops" parade. So give me the broom and step aside.

On Tuesday morning, a prudent jury returned a guilty verdict in the federal drug trial of Anthony Eppolito and Guido Bravatti. It was the quintessentially understated ending to one of the loudest organized crime investigations in recent history: the successful prosecution of the infamous "Mafia Cops," Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, who were convicted of betraying their NYPD badges and acting as informants and hit men for New York's Lucchese organized crime family. In all, they had a hand in eight murders, including the Nov. 6, 1990, shooting death of Gambino family capo Eddie Lino, a job they pulled personally on behalf of Lucchese underboss Anthony Casso.

The elder Eppolito, a rotund and affable fellow who retired to Las Vegas in the early 1990s and pursued a career as a movie actor and screenwriter, received life plus 100 years. Caracappa, who moved in across the street from his former police partner and worked for a time as a private investigator and women's prison employee, was sentenced to life plus 80 years.

Upon sentencing, the ice-cold Caracappa didn't flinch. He said simply, "I am innocent of these charges."

Eppolito, always auditioning, gave something of a soliloquy. "I'm a big boy," he said. "I'm not a child. The federal government can take my life. But they can't take my soul, they can't take my dignity. I never hurt anybody. ... I never did any of this."

Senior Federal Judge Jack Weinstein, a veteran of many bloody mob trials, called the Mafia Cops case "the most heinous series of crimes ever tried in this courthouse."

At last count, a half dozen books have been written about the Mafia Cops and their crimes, not including Eppolito's own paperback autobiography, "Mafia Cop: The Story of an Honest Cop Whose Family was the Mob." Eppolito's father, uncle and cousin were mobsters, but in his book he claimed to have broken the chain of criminal behavior.

Instead, Louis Eppolito helped extend it to another generation by implicating his son Anthony in his rotten life. It's a safe bet no one will be writing a book about this pathetic excuse for a mob case.

Fast forward to this past week in U.S. District Judge Philip Pro's courtroom, where defense attorneys Richard Schonfeld, on behalf of Anthony Eppolito, and Assistant Federal Public Defender Shari Kaufman attempted to persuade a jury their clients were entrapped by the FBI and DEA through its use of undercover informant Stephen Corso.

The defense attorneys worked this case about as well as they could given the problem with the evidence. (The problem was it incriminated their clients and didn't come close to proving entrapment. On the contrary, the defendants appeared only too willing to provide drugs, guns and women.)

Judge Pro took extra care to severely limit any mention of defendant Eppolito's more notorious father and the Mafia Cops case in general. Trouble is, this is a case with plenty of incriminating surveillance tape, which was collected hour after hour by Corso during the investigation.

At one point, perhaps sensing that Corso was getting the cold shoulder from the government, courthouse sources say the defense team sought to interview the insider witness. After the request was granted by Judge Pro, Schonfeld changed his mind and Corso remained a courthouse ghost.

Schonfeld and Kaufman started like pitbulls, ended like house cats. No wonder neither feels like talking. I hear their clients were offered sweet pretrial deals.

The case might have developed into something worth writing about had the small mountain of damaging discovery material associated with the investigation surfaced in the court record. Sources say it contains voluminous recordings of local organized crime figures and their eclectic circle of friends from the business and legal communities.

One gregarious fellow beyond worrying about the government's inquiry is telemarketer and ex-fighter Joey Roach, who died recently. Roach was tight with local Lucchese crime family man John Conti. And now my cleanup is complete. This is what I've been reduced to in the pursuit of a good mob story -- a mundane drug dealing case.

Forget "The Godfather."

This isn't even "The Godson" material.

Thanks to John L. Smith

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

Monday, March 23, 2009

Talk-Show Host Charlie Rose Survives Botched Mafia Hit Attempt

Bring me the head of Charlie Rose!

No, not the PBS talk-show host. The other one the legendary Mafia-busting prosecutor.

UnfortunatelyFriends of the Family, bumbling mob cops Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa and the Mafia assassin they dispatched to Long Island didn't know the difference and nearly bumped off public television's dapper yapper.

So says "Friends of the Family," a new book about the mob cops by retired detective Tommy Dades and Brooklyn prosecutor Michael Vecchione, who cracked the case.

The authors write that the disgraced NYPD detectives gave bad information to their benefactor, Luchese underboss Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, who dispatched a triggerman to the talk-show host's house, not knowing it wasn't the home of a Brooklyn federal prosecutor he wanted dead.

The killer never saw Rose and left, according to the book.

"It's a surprise it's all new to me," the TV host told The Post.

He confirmed that he's owned a home for years in Bellport, which is near the beach on eastern Long Island, about 20 miles west of Quogue.

Casso told FBI agents the house was in "the Hamptons," according to the book.

Casso was furious with Mafia-busting prosecutor Charles Rose, believing that Rose embarrassed him by leaking a story about Casso having killed his former architect for having an affair with the mobster's wife.

The bloodthirsty Casso did the unthinkable and put out a contract on the former assistant US attorney, who died of a brain tumor in 1998.

"Naturally, the only people Casso trusted to get Rose's address were the cops," the book says. "Casso was captured before he could make his move against Rose, but supposedly he did get an address for the prosecutor in the Hamptons. One of his people waited at the house for the prosecutor to show up, but for whatever reason Rose never got there.

"That was truly fortunate it turned out to be the wrong Charlie Rose . . This was the home of the TV show host, not the prosecutor."

"It's a 'wow' revelation in the book," said Vecchione, who heads the investigation unit of the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office. "I mean, Charlie Rose!"

The 1992 incident wasn't the first goof by the corrupt former detectives, whom Casso paid $4,000 a month to help kill rival hoods and supply tips on turncoats and probes.

Caracappa and Eppolito, who were sentenced to life on March 6, were asked to find the address of Nicholas Guido, a conspirator who tried to knock off Casso in a botched hit.

The cops got the wrong information; this time, Casso's henchmen killed an innocent Brooklyn man also named Nicholas Guido.

The book says Casso told FBI agents that Eppolito, Caracappa and an unnamed uniform cop ripped off millions in heroin in a notorious heist of the French Connection evidence from the NYPD property office.

The book "Friends of the Family" comes out May 12.

Thanks to Brad Hamilton

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Mafia Cops Remain Defiant

Louie Eppolito wanted to be a movie star and screenwriter. Stephen Caracappa wanted an off-the-record life.

The men known as the "Mafia Cops" had in mind to live happily ever after in sunny Southern Nevada, far from the New York streets where they had made their bones as cops and criminals.

In the end, Eppolito became far more scorned than celebrated. Caracappa saw his dream of anonymity explode in notoriety.

The Mafia Cops case, which played out in New York but was developed in part through an undercover investigation in Las Vegas, appears to be reaching a close.

Eppolito and Caracappa, who retired from the NYPD and moved to Las Vegas in the early 1990s and bought homes across the street from each other, were convicted in 2006 of racketeering offenses that included involvement in eight murders from 1986 to 1992 while working on behalf of members of the Lucchese family.

They saw their racketeering sentences reinstated by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which reversed U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein's decision to set aside their convictions after determining the statute of limitations had run out.

Eppolito's reluctant final role came in a courtroom drama in Brooklyn that resulted in a sentence of life plus 100 years. Caracappa's off-the-record dream manifested itself in a very much on-the-record life plus 80 years. The two former cops remained defiant after their convictions for taking cash and pulling hits for the Lucchese crime family.

Prior to being led away from the courtroom Caracappa said, "You will never take away my will to show how innocent I am."

Eppolito added, "I've been suffering for four years in jail. I can take it. I'm a man. ... But I never did any of this."

Had the case relied solely on the word of mob turncoats and murder case files nearly two decades old, the crimes might have remained unresolved. The Mafia Cops might have spent their final years working on their tans in Las Vegas.

While detectives gleaned new insight from sources as unlikely as Lucchese underboss Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, who said he personally paid the pair $65,000 to kill Gambino soldier Eddie Lino and kept them on the mob's payroll in exchange for information that led directly to several other murders, the investigation was incomplete until law enforcement worked Eppolito and Caracappa in Las Vegas.

A key player on this end of the investigation was former CPA Steven Corso, who on behalf of the government acted as a drug money launderer who was interested in feeding Eppolito's movie projects. Author of the memoir "Mafia Cop," the story of growing up in a family of hoodlums and joining the NYPD, in retirement Eppolito was a rotund, talkative fellow who pursued his acting and screenwriting career. He landed bit parts in several gangster movies.

While the stone-eyed Caracappa, with his terminal case of penitentiary face, had no interest in a career that placed him in the spotlight, Eppolito was easy to approach. Corso quickly won Eppolito's confidence. In short order, he paid the ex-cop $14,000 in purported drug money to help finance a script Eppolito had titled "Murder in Youngstown."

When Corso claimed to need to score some methamphetamine for some visiting Hollywood types, Eppolito enlisted his son, Anthony Eppolito, to get the drugs. The DEA agents working the case were pleased.

In time, Corso also recorded Eppolito bragging about hiding income from the IRS in a conversation that implicated his own wife. There was another conviction in the making.

The Las Vegas end of the multi-agency case alone would have been enough to send Eppolito away for many years.

On March 8, 2005, the DEA and FBI entered the popular Piero's restaurant and took the two former cops into custody. They were convicted a year later.

Despite all that is known about Corso, to this day the scope of his role in the investigation remains shrouded in mystery. We know that his career as an accountant was not without controversy. But we also know by the results he helped generate that he was able to effectively work his way into a rarely recorded element of the Las Vegas community.

Now that the sentences of Eppolito and Caracappa have been reinstated, it's time to roll the credits on the Mafia Cops case.

Thanks to John L. Smith

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Pauline Pipitone Breaks Silence On The Senseless Murder Of Her Son During A Botched Mob Hit In 1986

It happened on Christmas Day, 1986. A mafia hit man shot and killed Nick Guido on a Brooklyn street. Except it was the wrong man. The address was supplied by two detectives on the mob payroll -- Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa.

On Friday they will be sentenced in federal court. But before then, the mother of Guido has broken her silence in an exclusive interview with CBS 2 HD.

"The door was open; the car door. He was just laying there. The blood just coming out the car," Pauline Pipitone said. "I touched his hand. I said, 'No, I want to touch him.' His fingers were cold.

Guido was showing his uncle his new car. The 26-year-old was a telephone installer, waiting to hear from the FDNY if he'd been accepted. When the killer walked up, Guido shoved his uncle down, and covered him with his own body.

"Nicholas got the whole, um, 10 bullets," Pipitone said.

Guido was killed on the orders of Anthony "Gas Pipe" Casso, then the underboss of the Lucchese crime family.

When asked if there is ever a day that goes by that she doesn't think about her son's death, Pipitone said, "No way. No way." She added that even though 22-plus years have gone by since the killing, "I cry every day and every night."

"I'm his mother. He was my whole life."

The killer was looking for another Nick Guido, but the mafia got the innocent man's address, the feds said, from two crooked New York City detectives at the time – Eppolito and Caracappa. Pipitone said she wants them to live long lives … behind bars.

"I want them to live a long time and know what I'm going through. That won't give me any peace, but still … I'll still be crying," Pipitone said.

A week after Guido was gunned down the letter came in the mail saying he had been accepted for training with the fire department.

When Eppolito and Caracappa are sentenced Friday, it will be for nine murders they either carried out or arranged for the mob.

Nick Guido was the only innocent man.

Thanks to Pablo Guzman

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Can Mobster Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso Answer a Mystery Around the French Connection Case?

In prison, far from the Brooklyn haunts where his name was scrawled in blood, Anthony Casso stews. He stews over old vendettas. He stews over betrayals of the flesh — heart problems and prostate cancer.

Mr. Casso has served 15 years at a “supermax” prison in Colorado. And Mr. Casso, the once fearsome underboss of the Lucchese family who is now serving multiple life sentences amounting to 455 years for murder, stews over his secrets: unsolved crimes that, he says in an outpouring of letters, he is eager to help close if only he could show the authorities where the bodies are buried (especially if it entails a trip outside the gates).

“I would go out there in a heartbeat,” Mr. Casso said on Friday in a telephone call to a former detective seeking the mobster’s help in clearing his own name. But as much as he hopes for a taste of freedom, or a reduction of his sentence, prosecutors question what his information may be worth and what perils may lie in reopening contact with an antagonist some compare to the fictional monster Hannibal Lecter.

Dangling as a prize is the answer to one of New York’s most scandalous mysteries: how 400 pounds of heroin and cocaine, much of it seized in the so-called French Connection drug bust in 1962, were spirited out of the police property vault for resale back on the street. By the time the record theft was discovered in December 1972, the drugs — then valued at $73 million — had been replaced with flour and cornstarch.

Who committed the deed? There were four narcotics detectives,” Mr. Casso wrote the former detective, Pat Intrieri, in October, amplifying information he offered in his 2008 biography, Gaspipe: Confessions of a Mafia Boss. “One worked inside the property clerk’s office.” One, he added, was later shot to death; Mr. Casso said he remembers where the gun was thrown. But Mr. Casso, 66, whose mob nickname was Gaspipe, says he is having trouble with exact locations. So, naturally, he would like to get out, if only for a day, to be helpful. Or at least win some leniency along the lines of a plea deal he says the government reneged on: six and a half years in prison.

“Of course he’d like to get out — he’s serving 55 million years,” said Michael F. Vecchione, chief of the rackets division in the Brooklyn district attorney’s office. Like other prosecutors, Mr. Vecchione has little stomach for Mr. Casso. But without any promises, he has arranged to visit Mr. Casso on Tuesday at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, N.C., where he has been undergoing cancer treatment, although it would take corroboration far beyond the mobster’s word to make any case.

“I bet you when the state guys come, they don’t know half the things,” Mr. Casso said on Friday to Mr. Intrieri, who relayed his remarks to The New York Times.

There is little chance that Mr. Casso, now 15 years behind the stoutest walls America can contrive, will ever see his release — not after pleading guilty in 15 murders and being tied to some 22 others.

He has also been accused of plotting to kill a federal judge and prosecutors, and violating the terms of his agreement to turn informant as one of the highest-level mobsters ever to flip — becoming the only major Mafia defector to be thrown out of the federal witness protection program.

Mr. Casso has also waffled on whether he corrupted an F.B.I. agent and hired two New York City police detectives, Louis J. Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, as mob assassins. The former detectives are to be sentenced on March 6 on racketeering charges.

If, moreover, he still wonders why the authorities are leery of his offers, Mr. Casso may have provided the answer to his biographer, Philip Carlo. In his 2008 book, “Gaspipe: Confessions of a Mafia Boss,” Mr. Carlo, a longtime friend of the Casso family, outlined several of the mobster’s escape schemes, including the planned ambush of a van carrying him back from court after his capture in New Jersey in 1993.

“He’s where he should be,” said Gregory O’Connell, a former federal prosecutor in Brooklyn who initially interviewed Mr. Casso with his late partner, Charles Rose, and called him “the most treacherous sociopath we ever dealt with.”

But a man can dream, and for Mr. Casso, that means being back once again in the Brooklyn sunshine, pinpointing old Mafia execution grounds and the watery grave of a murder weapon. Not rising at 5 a.m. every day to meticulously clean his cell in a federal “supermax” prison in Florence, Colo., that also houses the likes of the Unabomber, Theodore J. Kaczynski; the Oklahoma City bomber Terry Nichols; and such fellow mobsters as Gregory Scarpa Jr. and Salvatore Gravano, known as Sammy the Bull.

“I think he got a raw deal,” said Joshua L. Dratel, the latest of Mr. Casso’s many lawyers. Mr. Dratel said Mr. Casso was “poor at playing the system” and threatened major cases by exposing Mr. Gravano and other government witnesses and federal agents as liars. Mr. Casso has long claimed that the records of his F.B.I. debriefings, never made public, would show that the government covered up his warnings of moles in its ranks and that to get out of their plea deal with him, prosecutors used other Mafia turncoats as witnesses instead.

Perhaps Mr. Casso’s staunchest pen pal is Mr. Intrieri, 79, a onetime decorated New York detective lieutenant who was convicted of tax evasion in 1976 in the aftermath of the French Connection drug thefts. Mr. Intrieri, who has drafted a memoir asserting his innocence, saw new information on the case in Mr. Carlo’s book and said he found Mr. Casso’s accounts of unsolved crimes credible.

“He wants to get out a little bit, I guess; he’s going stir-crazy,” Mr. Intrieri said, after getting more than a dozen phone calls from Mr. Casso in recent weeks. “But his goal is a sentence reduction.”

The drugs at the core of the mystery — popularized as “The French Connection: A True Account of Cops, Narcotics, and International Conspiracy” in a 1969 book by Robin Mooreand an Academy Award-winning film that followed two years later — were secreted in compartments in a 1960 Buick loaded aboard the liner United States sailing from Le Havre, France, to New York. The car and its 112 pounds of heroin were later claimed by a Lucchese family underling, Patsy Fuca, who, as it happened, was being tailed by a pair of dogged New York narcotics detectives, Eddie Egan and Sonny Grosso.

The drug bust in January 1962 was widely hailed as a record. But the heroics proved short-lived. In six thefts between March 1969 and January 1972, someone signing the register as Detective Joseph Nunziata, a member of the narcotics bureau’s widely corrupt special investigations unit, and using fictitious badge numbers, removed the French Connection drugs along with another 300 pounds of heroin and cocaine from the police property vault at 400 Broome Street (now a New York University dorm).

Handwriting analysis and a discovered fingerprint never established that Detective Nunziata actually signed the police register. But eight months before the thefts were discovered, Detective Nunziata, charged with corruption in an unrelated case, was found shot to death in his car. It was ruled a suicide.

Mr. Moore, the author, wrote that as far back as 1967, he and Detectives Nunziata, Egan and Grosso joked about stealing the French Connection heroin.

Many suspects emerged, including Vincent Papa, a major drug dealer; Frank King, a retired narcotics detective and private eye working for Mr. Papa; and Mr. Intrieri, who upon his retirement had joined Mr. King as a bodyguard for one of Mr. Papa’s sons — “the biggest mistake of my life,” Mr. Intrieri now says. (Mr. Papa’s lawyer was overheard on a wiretap asking Mr. King, “Do we have anything to worry about the handwriting analysis?”) After providing what he thought was confidential information on four corrupt narcotics detectives, Mr. Papa was stabbed to death in prison.

Also under scrutiny was Vincent Albano, another former narcotics detective, who had served under Mr. Intrieri and had survived a mysterious hail of bullets in 1969, only to be slain in 1985.

Thomas P. Puccio, then a Brooklyn federal prosecutor, focused on Mr. King and Mr. Intrieri, but failed to tie them to the drug thefts. Mr. Puccio charged them instead with tax evasion for unexplained income, winning convictions and five-year sentences for both, along with three years for tax evasion by Mr. Albano. But the case remained a puzzle, Mr. Puccio conceded in an interview. “We never really conclusively solved it,” he said.

Still indignant over his conviction more than 30 years later, Mr. Intrieri — who held 15 police citations for bravery and valor — saw in Mr. Carlo’s book that Mr. Casso had named Mr. Albano and a mob associate as two of the French Connection thieves. The book related how Mr. Albano had been shot to death in Brooklyn in 1985, and how Mr. Casso had supplied the gun and helped dump the body on Staten Island.

Mr. Carlo, in an interview, said Mr. Casso had told him Mr. Albano had conceived the drug heist and asked Mr. Casso how to carry it out.

Mr. Intrieri, in his own manuscript, “The French Connection: The Aftermath,” told of running into Mr. Albano several times over the years — including in 1980 while Mr. Albano was casing a Queens bank — and said that Mr. Albano had laughed at hearing that Mr. Intrieri was a suspect in the drug thefts.

By opening an exchange of letters with Mr. Casso — a correspondence that grew to include this reporter — Mr. Intrieri elicited other details, and other crimes.

Mr. Casso offered details of the 1986 car bombing aimed at John Gotti that killed his Gambino family underboss, Frank DeCicco; the killing of a Russian mob associate, Michael Markowitz, in 1989; and the apparently unreported killing of a Jewish drug importer near Mr. Albano’s office around 1980, among other crimes.

Officials at the Federal Medical Center in North Carolina did not respond to repeated requests to interview Mr. Casso by phone.

“I’ll be here awhile receiving treatments for prostate cancer,” Mr. Casso wrote Mr. Intrieri in December. “Just my luck.”

As for the gun that killed Mr. Albano, Mr. Casso supplied a hand-drawn map with imperfect punctuation showing, he said, where it had been thrown: “Its in Sheepshead Bay.”

He also sketched a site where, he said, another mob victim was buried, calling it: “Drawing for the Colombians remains.”

Mr. Intrieri said that his follow-up inquiries gave credence to Mr. Casso’s information and that it was worth giving the old mob boss a chance to hand prosecutors new evidence. “I sincerely believe that until he goes to the site, he won’t remember,” Mr. Intrieri said.

Thanks to Ralph Blumenthal

Monday, June 18, 2007

Mafia Cop Sends Letter from Jail Declaring Innocence

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

One of two former NYPD detectives accused of moonlighting as hitmen for the mob considers himself an innocent man wrongly imprisoned for more than year after news outlets "crucified" him in reports about the sensational case.

Mafia Cop, Louis Eppolito, Sends Letter from Jail Declaring InnocenceLouis Eppolito made the assertions in a rambling two-page letter written to The Associated Press from a federal jail in Brooklyn. Both Eppolito, 58, and Stephen Caracappa, 64, remain jailed there while prosecutors appeal a judge's decision last summer to overturn their convictions in eight Mafia murders.

"As you know, this case was overturned by the judge, yet we linger in solitary confinement (free men by law) for the past 15 months," Eppolito said in the handwritten letter dated June 7.

Eppolito also accused the government of suppressing evidence that would prove his innocence, and complained about the "media circus" that surrounded the case.

"We were both crucified with each and every story that was written," he wrote in response to an interview request. "It was proven to me by the press that they are not after the truth, but only to sell their newspapers with lies made to make us look like corrupt dirty cops, who were more like monsters then (sic) the good family men which we are."

Eppolito's attorney did not immediately respond Friday to a telephone message. The text of the letter was written in block letters, but Eppolito signed it in script with a flourish.

The former detectives were convicted in April 2006 of leading double lives, working for both the NYPD and Luchese crime family underboss Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso. They earned $65,000 for one of the slayings, authorities said.

A jury found the so-called "Mafia Cops" were responsible for the eight murders, along with kidnapping and other crimes. The pair had been out on $5 million bail for nine months before their convictions on racketeering conspiracy put them behind bars.

Two months later, U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein stunned prosecutors by saying he was compelled to set aside the verdict because the statute of limitations had passed on the slayings, which occurred between 1986 and 1990.

After hiring new attorneys, Eppolito and Caracappa sought their release on bail while they awaited the outcome of a government appeal of Weinstein's ruling or _ if it was upheld _ a retrial on lesser charges stemming from a 2005 drug sting in Las Vegas, where the partners both had retired. But the judge rejected their bid for freedom, calling them "dangerous criminals with no degree of credibility."

It's not unusual for federal appeals to take a year or more to decide.

Thanks to Tom Hays

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Old Days: Mobsters Whacked for Revenge; Now: They Evict

If you can't settle a vendetta with blood, try real estate.

Burton Kaplan, a Mafia informant in the "mob cops" case, was getting back at his one-time ally, Luchese underboss Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, when he sued to evict the capo's son from his Brooklyn home last year, court papers reveal.

"When asked why, after all these years, he was trying to take the premises . . . Kaplan stated that he's getting even for Anthony Casso Sr. ordering a contract on his [Kaplan's] life," lawyers for Anthony Casso Jr. claim in a countersuit to the eviction filed last week.

According to the countersuit, Kaplan sat down with Casso Jr., at a Brooklyn restaurant in late 2006 and admitted that he'd taken the deed to the house as part of a money-laundering scheme with the father.

It seems the Luchese underboss had "sold" the Mill Basin home to Kaplan in 1985, with the expectation that it would be transferred back to the Cassos at an appropriate time.

Kaplan allegedly told Casso Sr.'s late wife that he'd give the house back for $125,000. That demand was upped to $650,000 in 2006, the papers allege.

Thanks to Alex Ginsberg

Monday, March 05, 2007

Mob Money Pays for Judge's Wedding

Friends of ours: Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso
Friends of mine: Burton Kaplan

A Manhattan judge's lavish wedding was paid for by Mafia mass murderer Anthony (Gaspipe) Casso as a favor to the mobbed-up father of the bride, according to court papers obtained by the Daily News.

The shocking allegation is the latest embarrassment for acting Supreme Court Justice Deborah Kaplan, whose father, Burton Kaplan, had mob ties and was convicted of drug trafficking.

In a suit filed yesterday in Brooklyn Supreme Court, Anthony Casso Jr., the son of the jailed-for-life Luchese underboss, claims Burton Kaplan recently admitted to him that he borrowed $150,000 from the elder Casso to pay for the wedding.

"She has no knowledge of the allegations contained in the suit," said Bob Liff, a spokesman retained by Deborah Kaplan.

The loan was made around the same time as an alleged sham purchase by Kaplan of Casso's home on E. 72nd St. in Brooklyn as part of a "money laundering deal," the suit filed by attorney Bruce Baron contends.

Casso Jr., who still lives in the house with his wife and infant son, is fighting eviction proceedings started by Kaplan. His attorney Bruce Baron also is seeking a stay of the trial in Brooklyn Housing Court.

Kaplan allegedly fessed up about the wedding loan during a secret sitdown he sought with Casso Jr. at a barbecue restaurant in Brooklyn last October, just one month after Kaplan was sprung on bail as a reward for his testimony against the Mafia cops.

Kaplan, 72, guarded by two federal agents at the meeting, allegedly told Casso Jr. that he "partially repaid" the wedding loan, according to the suit.

Deborah Kaplan was elected to Civil Court in 2002 and promoted to the Supreme Court after her father's mob ties became public.

Thanks to John Marzulli

Monday, October 02, 2006

Stool Pigeon in Mafia Cops Case Freed

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

The truth has set him free.

Stool pigeon Burton Kaplan, the key witness against mob cops Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, was sprung from prison yesterday after serving just over nine years of a 27-year sentence for dealing tons of marijuana.

Brooklyn federal Judge Jack Weinstein commuted the prison stint for Kaplan, who was the go-between for the ex-NYPD detectives and Luchese crime-family boss Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, as part of a deal for his cooperation. "His information led to the resolution of eight murder investigations," said prosecutor Robert Henoch, who had nothing but praise for the detailed information Kaplan, 72, offered - which Henoch said was "excruciatingly corroborated."

"His memory was astounding," Henoch said, noting that Kaplan helped investigators uncover evidence that the cops were acting as paid Mafia moles and hit men while wearing their shields.

Neither Kaplan's wife nor daughter, Manhattan state Supreme Court Judge Deborah Kaplan, were in court yesterday because Kaplan feared for their safety, according to his lawyer Michael Gold. "I know words cannot change my crimes," Kaplan told Weinstein. "My only concern was my own selfish motives of not wanting to get caught."

The judge released Kaplan, who pleaded guilty in March 2005 to charges stemming from the crooked cops' case, on $2 million bail while he awaits sentencing for those crimes.

Eppolito and Caracappa were convicted in April, but Weinstein overturned the jury conviction on a legal technicality. The pair are on 23-hour-a-day lockdown in a federal prison in Brooklyn while prosecutors appeal Weinstein's decision.

Thanks to Zach Haberman

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Snitch from "Mafia Cops" Case May Have Sentenced Reduced

A former mob associate who helped convict the "Mafia cops" could have his prison sentence reduced because of his testimony, according to a published report.

During Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa's trial, Burton Kaplan told jurors he acted as a middleman, passing secret police information -- including names of confidential informants and imminent mob arrests -- from Eppolito and Caracappa to Luchese crime family underboss Anthony (Gaspipe) Casso.

As thanks, prosecutors are expected to ask U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein to resentence Kaplan, 72, who has served 15 years of a 27-year sentence, according to the New York Daily News. "Burt was an incredible witness, he was certainly telling the truth and was responsible for getting convictions against two really bad people," a legal source told the News. "If anybody deserves a sentence reduction, it's him."

While Eppolito and Caracappa, a former Great Kills resident, were found guilty of every count in the racketeering conspiracy case -- from murder for hire to kidnapping to witness tampering to bribery -- the verdict was tossed out June 30 by Weinstein, who ruled that the statute of limitations had run out on the pair's racketeering convictions. Weinstein has ordered a new trial on charges of money laundering and drug trafficking.

Thanks to Staten Island Advance

Sunday, August 20, 2006

'Mafia Cops' Had No Right To Allegedly Decide Father's Fate Says Daughter

Friends of ours: Edward Lino, John "Dapper Don" Gotti, Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso
Friends of mine: Louis Eppolito, Stephen Caracappa, Gene Gotti

The case of former NYPD detectives Louis Eppolito and Steven Caracappa has seen many twists and turns, and now the daughter of a reputed mobster said the two so-called "Mafia Cops" had no right to allegedly play God with her father's life.

Danielle Lino's father, reputed mobster Edward Lino, was allegedly killed by rogue detectives, NewsChannel 4 reported. "Those two men had no right to just judge my father and to change my life. It was not for them to decide if he lived or died," Danielle Lino said.

Her quest has sparked a lawsuit seeking $100 million from city taxpayers for the 1990 shooting of her father. This is the latest twist in the ongoing saga of Eppolito and Caracappa, who are suspected of arranging eight hits for the mob.

The lawsuit claimed that authorities knew that the two detectives were "serving the interests of organized crime." "There was substantial evidence that the city as a result of which knew or should have known these guys were dirty, and they did nothing about it," said attorney Scott Charnas.

Investigators said they believe Edward Lino was close to John Gotti, boss of the Gambino crime family. Gotti's brother, Gene, and Edward Lino were charged in the 1980s with drug trafficking. Edward Lino was acquitted and he had no other convictions.

Danielle Lino, 27, a marketing executive, said she knows nothing about her father's alleged crimes. "That's not the man I know," Danielle Lino said.

Danielle Lino was 12 years old when her father was gunned down in his black Mercedes on the Belt Parkway. The father and daughter had spent the day with family in Brooklyn. She rode home to Long Island separately from her father, a choice that haunts her. She said she wonders if a little girl in his car might have stopped his killers. "I would love to think that I could have saved him, but I'm afraid to think what if I did go with him?" Danielle Lino said.

Danielle Lino said the focus should be on Eppolitto and Caracappa, who were allegedly paid to kill her father on the orders of mobster Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, NewsChannel 4 reported. "I don't have a father today because two New York City police detectives thought $65,000 was enough money to change my life. Is that fair?" Danielle Lino said.

The city declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The criminal case against the detectives, who maintain their innocence, remains up in the air. A federal jury had convicted the pair of arranging eight murders, including Edward Lino's, but the judge threw out that verdict on a technicality. Prosecutors are appealing.

Thanks to WNBC

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Last Shot for "Mafia Cops": The Lawyers Did It

Friends of ours: Gambino Crime Family, John Gotti, Luchese Crime Family, Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso
Friends of mine: Louis Eppolito, Stephen Caracappa

Wearing sharply tailored suits and sharing "Godfather"-style kisses in the courtroom, defense attorneys Bruce Cutler and Edward Hayes appeared a formidable defense team for two ex-NYPD detectives accused of eight slayings while on working for the mob.

Now, just two months after rogue cops Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa were convicted of those murders and an assortment of other crimes, the so-called "Mafia Cops" are charging their high-profile lawyers botched the case and asking a federal judge to throw out the verdict.

Both Cutler and Hayes were disappointed by the allegations from their one-time clients, saying Eppolito and Caracappa were desperate men motivated by the life sentences awaiting if their appeal fails.

"I was just so personally offended," Cutler said. "One day you're begged to come in, and the next day you're knocked by the client, who to me is delusional in a certain respect. He's certainly ungrateful and shameless." But the new attorneys for both defendants were unsparing in assessing their predecessors.

"Hayes' indifference to Mr. Caracappa's defense, both in terms of preparation and understanding, was apparent throughout the case," alleged a 15-page filing made by Daniel Nobel, who now represents Caracappa.

Joseph Bondy, the new attorney for Eppolito, said Cutler "spent the majority of Mr. Eppolito's closing argument speaking about himself, including that he lost over 14 pounds during trial, loved Brooklyn as a borough of bridges and tunnels, and was an admirer of the great Indian Chief Crazy Horse."

Eppolito, the son of a Gambino crime family member, lodged his complaint against Cutler last month. But Caracappa's gripe against Hayes came just prior to U.S. District Court Judge Jack B. Weinstein's June 5 decision that the pair would die behind bars for the bloody betrayal of their detectives' shields.

Weinstein said the life terms, along with a $1 million fine and a seizure of assets, would only be imposed after a June 23 hearing where the defendants would present their claims of ineffective counsel.

The allegations against Cutler and Hayes are at odds with their reputations. Cutler was best known for defending mob boss John Gotti, employing a merciless style of cross-examination known as "Brucification." And Hayes, author of the recent memoir "Mouthpiece," had a client list that included Sean "Diddy" Combs and Robert De Niro; he was the model for the defense attorney in Tom Wolfe's "The Bonfire of the Vanities."

When the two decorated former detectives were convicted April 6, Hayes shared a tearful courtroom hug with Caracappa. Their rapport has since unraveled.

"He's desperate who else can he attack?" Hayes said. "I am surprised, however, since I didn't think he was like that."

Cutler said Hayes, a longtime friend, was hurt by the charges. Cutler, who marks 25 years as a lawyer next month, was more annoyed. "They started off blaming the government and the prosecutors, blaming this and that," Cutler said. "Who's left? Us. I am rankled and angry."

Eppolito, 57, and Caracappa, 64, were jailed following their convictions. The pair was convicted of joining the payroll of Luchese family underboss Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso while still with the NYPD, collecting $4,000 a month in mob money along with their city paychecks.

The two men earned repeated honors during a combined 44 years on the force. But the federal jury heard testimony about how the pair committed or facilitated eight slayings between 1986-90.

The two detectives relocated to the same street in Las Vegas after their retirement. Their new lawyers charged that Cutler and Hayes failed to attack a possible flaw in the government case: That the alleged racketeering enterprise did not continue once the defendants moved to Nevada. If that was true, the five-year statute of limitations was past and the convictions would be invalid.

The court filings also included complaints that Cutler and Hayes ignored their clients, that Eppolito was denied his right to testify, and that cross-examination of prosecution witnesses was improperly handled.

Neither Eppolito or Caracappa took the witness stand, although Cutler likely will at the June 23 hearing. He's looking forward to the opportunity.

"I don't want to hurt Lou, and I certainly don't want to hurt Steve," Cutler said. "But I will be heard."

Thanks to Larry McShane

Thursday, June 08, 2006

"Mafia Cops" to Face Life Term

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

The only thing that didn't happen at the sentencing of two former detectives convicted of moonlighting as mob hit men was the sentencing.

A packed Brooklyn courtroom heard emotional testimony Monday from five family members whose loved ones were killed by Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa while the two were on the payrolls of both the Police Department and a brutal mob underboss.

Eppolito stood up to proclaim his innocence, and another man who was wrongly jailed for 19 years in a case investigated by Eppolito was thrown out of court after launching into a rant against him.

After all that, U.S. District Court Judge Jack B. Weinstein told the two defendants he would sentence them to life in prison, but delayed the formal sentencing until at least June 23, when the pair will argue that their high-priced defense attorneys did not adequately represent them.

The judge left little doubt about his opinion of the two, who were convicted April 6 of racketeering charges that included murder, kidnapping, drug dealing and obstruction of justice. "This is probably the most heinous series of crimes ever tried in this courthouse," the judge said.

The two former partners were convicted in April of participating in eight slayings between 1986 and 1990. Prosecutors said the detectives committed some of the murders themselves and delivered other victims to the Mafia to be killed.

Eppolito, 57, and Caracappa, 64, received $4,000 a month from Luchese underboss Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, who also used them to get inside information on law enforcement investigations. Their pay went up for the murders: They earned $65,000 for one killing.

Federal prosecutor Daniel Wenner had described the case as "the bloodiest, most violent betrayal of the badge this city has ever seen."

Five victims' family members took the witness stand to testify how the murders linked to the two detectives had destroyed their lives. "You did not kill one person," said Michal Greenwald Weinstein, whose father was the pair's first victim. "You killed a family."

Eppolito, speaking for the first time in court, said he was innocent and encouraged the family members to visit him in prison. "I can hold my head up high," said Eppolito, whose father was a member of the Gambino crime family. "I never did any of these things."

Bruce Cutler, who represented Eppolito, was out of his office and unavailable for comment Monday. Caracappa's attorney, Edward Hayes, was in Los Angeles and did not respond to a message left at his Manhattan office.

During Eppolito's remarks, Barry Gibbs, who was imprisoned for almost 20 years after a wrongful conviction in a case in which Eppolito was lead investigator, lashed out at the former detective before federal marshals led him out of the courtroom. "Remember what you did to me? To me? You framed me!" he screamed as the crowd burst into cheers.

Caracappa, who retired in 1992, helped establish the Police Department's unit for Mafia murder investigations. Eppolito was a much-praised street officer despite whispers that some of his arrests came via tips from mobsters.

Eppolito also played a bit part in the mob movie "Goodfellas." After retiring in 1990, he unsuccessfully tried his hand at Hollywood scriptwriting. In his autobiography, "Mafia Cop," he portrayed himself as an honest officer from a crooked family.

The pair, both highly decorated, spent a combined 44 years on the force and eventually retired to homes on the same block in Las Vegas.

The racketeering convictions could be overturned because of the statute of limitations. The defense argued that there was no ongoing criminal enterprise while the detectives were living in Las Vegas, making a racketeering charge legally untenable.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Mafia Cops Face Life in Prison at Sentencing

Michal Greenwald Weinstein grew up pretending her father died of cancer, or maybe in a freak accident. Either was easier to accept than the truth, which remained a secret to her shattered family for nearly two decades.

Israel Greenwald, an unassuming diamond dealer, went to work on Feb. 10, 1986, and never came home. It wasn't until this April that his killers were finally brought to justice: one-time NYPD detectives Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa.

The pair was also convicted of seven other murders, all at the behest of a vicious mob underboss, in one of most sensational corruption cases in New York City police history. On Monday, the ex-partners turned crime partners return to U.S. District Court in Brooklyn to face sentences of life behind bars on their racketeering convictions.

In victim impact statements filed with the court, Michal Greenwald Weinstein, her sister Yael and their mother Leah detailed how their lives were nearly destroyed by the murder of the family patriarch inside a Brooklyn parking garage. His body was buried in a five-foot deep hole, and then covered by concrete. Greenwald, killed because of fears that he might become an informant, was undiscovered for 19 years.

"Losing a father at a young age is hard enough, but to lose a father in such a violent and mysterious way is nothing short of horrific," Weinstein wrote in her statement. "I don't know which crime was more monstrous, the actual murder or the concealment of his body."

A witness testified that Eppolito stood guard while a man resembling Caracappa brought Greenwald into the garage and executed him. Eppolito, 57, whose father was a member of the Gambino crime family, and Caracappa, 64, were respected detectives who worked for Luchese family underboss Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso between 1986 and 1990.

The eight murders were committed while the pair was simultaneously on the payrolls of both the NYPD and Casso. Eppolito and Caracappa — dubbed the "Mafia Cops" — received $4,000 a month from Casso, who also used them to get information from inside law enforcement. Their pay went up for the murders: They earned $65,000 for one killing.

Federal prosecutor Daniel Wenner described the case as "the bloodiest, most violent betrayal of the badge this city has ever seen."

Caracappa, who retired in 1992, helped establish the city police department's unit for Mafia murder investigations. Eppolito was a much-praised street cop despite whispers that some of his arrests came via from tips from mobsters.

Eppolito also played a bit part in the mob movie "GoodFellas." After retiring in 1990, he unsuccessfully tried his hand at Hollywood scriptwriting. In his autobiography, "Mafia Cop," he portrayed himself as an honest cop from a crooked family. The pair, both highly decorated, spent a combined 44 years on the force and eventually retired to homes on the same block in Las Vegas.

The sentencings won't end the explosive case. Later this month, Eppolito will press forward with his request for a new trial based on his claim that defense attorney Bruce Cutler failed to put on a competent defense.

Eppolito, through new attorney Joseph Bondy, has asked for Casso to appear at that hearing. Casso, who was responsible for 36 murders during his mob career, was a possible defense witness who claimed he had exculpatory evidence against the two ex-detectives.

Caracappa's high-profile attorney, Edward Hayes, has also left the defense team before the sentencing. The defense opted not to put Casso on the stand, and did not call either defendant as a witness.

The racketeering convictions could also be overturned due to statue of limitations. The defense argues that there was no ongoing criminal enterprise while the detectives were living in Las Vegas, making a racketeering charge legally untenable.

U.S. District Court Judge Jack B. Weinstein, while declining to throw out the verdicts himself, suggested the statute of limitation claim could work.

"It was not a strong case, and the government was warned that from day one," Weinstein said at a May hearing. "There is a sound basis for appeal."

Thanks to Larry McShane

Monday, May 15, 2006

La Cosa Nostra Tough Guy-Turned-Witness follows the Rules

Friends of ours: Bruno Facciola, Luchesse Crime Family, Alphonse "Little Al" D'Arco, Sammy "the Bull" Gravano, John Gotti, Vittorio Amuso, Paulie Vario, Henry Hill, Vic Amuso, Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, Genovese Crime Family, Vincent "Chin" Gigante, Colombo Crime Family, "Little Vic" Orena, Bonanno Crime Family, Anthony Spero, James Ida
Friends of mine: Stephen Caracappa, Louis Eppolito

The killers placed the dead canary in the freezer. Later, after their work was finished, they placed the bird inside the mouth of the equally deceased Bruno Facciola.

The August 1990 mob hit followed a tip from two corrupt NYPD detectives that the Luchese family capo had turned government informant. Facciola was stabbed, shot through both eyes and shot again in the head before the bird was stuffed in his mouth. It was murder with a message: See no evil. And definitely speak no evil.

The slaying was orchestrated by one of the crime family's true believers, a diminutive thug known to fellow Mafiosi as "Little Al." Few in organized crime embraced the mob ethos more fervently than Alphonse D'Arco, a hard case from the cradle.

"I was a man when I was born," Little Al once bragged. He committed every crime except pimping and pornography, which D'Arco deemed beneath his dignity. Murder was a different story; he committed eight while rising from Luchese associate to acting boss.

Few in organized crime despised informants more than Little Al. "Rats," he'd spit, his face contorted with disgust. He did a three-year heroin rap without opening his yap. So when the word came down that Facciola was singing to the feds, D'Arco arranged for his demise. And for the canary.

Four months later, with the family in turmoil, D'Arco stepped up to become the Luchese boss. His reign abruptly ended on Aug. 21, 1991, but not in the fashion he expected: on the wrong end of a jury verdict. Or maybe a bullet. Instead, D'Arco _ disgusted by the loss of mob honor, double-crossed by men he had respected _ became what he most abhorred: a rat. And not just any rat.

He brought down mob bosses, underbosses, consiglieres. Fifteen years later, the former made man is still making inmates out of accomplices as perhaps the most devastating mob informant ever _ even better than Sammy "The Bull" Gravano, who famously flipped on mob superstar John Gotti.

Alphonse D'Arco, born July 28, 1932, grew up near the Brooklyn Navy Yards. The neighborhood was heavy with heavyweight mobsters, including some of his relatives. His childhood, D'Arco once recalled, was "like being in the forest and all the trees were the dons and the organized crime guys." D'Arco walked into the woods without hesitation. He was 14 when he started hanging with the local mobsters; one year later, he dropped out of school.

Two tenets of the old-school Mafia appealed to D'Arco: Loyalty and honor. Both extended into his personal life; in 1951, during the Korean War, D'Arco volunteered for the Army, served two years and received an honorable discharge. When he returned to Brooklyn and the mob, he found a wife; they remain married to this day. The D'Arcos had five children.

In 1959, D'Arco first met future Luchese family boss Vittorio Amuso. He was soon making money for the Lucheses in a variety of ways: Hijacking. Drug dealing. Burglary. Counterfeiting. Arson. Armed robbery.

D'Arco became a made man on Aug. 23, 1982, in a ceremony held in a Bronx kitchen. "I should burn like this paper if I betray anyone in this room," D'Arco swore. D'Arco was particularly good with dates, and he always remembered this one. He remembered plenty of other things along the way. D'Arco was a guy who listened more than he spoke.

D'Arco had long ago resolved the differences between mob life and straight society. As John Q. Citizen, D'Arco would have lived by the rules. As Alphonse D'Arco, mobster, he would abide by the Mafia's code _ no questions asked. He obeyed orders and his elders, kicked money up to the bosses. And he never cooperated with law enforcement. Not even on the smallest of matters.

His capo was Paulie Vario, one of the family's most valued leaders. As the entire crew would soon discover, the erosion of mob values was under way. And it was happening in their midst.

Henry Hill was a Luchese associate and a cocaine dealer. Once arrested, Hill became the most notorious Mafia turncoat of the decade. His testimony helped put Vario away in 1984. Hill's life became fodder for the classic mob movie "GoodFellas." Vario, played by Paul Sorvino in the movie, died in a Texas prison four years later. His replacement was Alphonse D'Arco.

D'Arco's old friend Vic Amuso became the head of the family. His underboss was another pal, Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, a hoodlum responsible for three dozen murders.

The mob life was good for D'Arco. He had about $1 million in loan-sharking money spread around, and ran his own crew. The family hierarchy relied on him to handle important business _ labor unions, racketeering, murder.

"He was a true believer in La Cosa Nostra," said former federal prosecutor George Stamboulidis. "He grew up in the life. It was something that he wanted, and succeeded at."

D'Arco dressed in shirts with big "wiseguy collars," and lived in an apartment on Spring Street in Little Italy. The market rent was $1,200 a month; D'Arco paid $200.

He brought his son, Joe, into the family business, and considered doing the same for another son, John. When the order came down for Joe to whack a guy in California, Al unflinchingly told his son to do it. At his father's behest, Joe committed a second mob murder in New York. The son played by his father's rules.

A few months after they exposed Bruno Facciola, the two crooked detectives provided Casso with a new bit of information: the underboss and Amuso were targeted for arrest. On Jan. 9, 1991, the pair met with Little Al at a Brooklyn bar, where Amuso pronounced him acting boss of the Lucheses. Then Casso and Amuso vanished. Top of the world, Al.

During eight eye-opening months as boss, D'Arco's blind allegiance to the mob was undermined. From seclusion, Amuso and Casso started a whispering campaign against D'Arco among the Luchese faithful. A fellow mobster informed D'Arco about the betrayal; so did FBI agents.

Yet D'Arco was unconvinced until the night of Sept. 18, 1991, when he attended a meeting in a midtown Manhattan hotel room. His longtime Luchese associates appeared unnerved. A family hit man was among the group, and the vibe was ugly. D'Arco had no doubt that he was marked for death.

D'Arco managed to bolt the meeting, and reconsidered his life _ or what might be left of it. He considered going to war against the Amuso/Casso faction, handling things in the style of his Brooklyn mentors. But D'Arco had no more loyalty to the Lucheses. And he no longer viewed them as men of honor.

"So I says, `That's it,"' D'Arco explained later from the witness stand. "I washed my hands of the whole thing."

D'Arco sent most of his family to Hawaii, far from the deadly streets of New York. Accompanied by his son, D'Arco hid in his mother's Long Island home. A deal was made. On Sept. 21, 1991, Alphonse D'Arco became the most unlikely cooperating witness ever recruited. And also one of the most expensive.

The federal government spent more than $2 million to relocate the D'Arco clan. Little Al and six other families were moved from New York to parts unknown. He left behind a mob fortune; his legal net worth was about $30,000.

News of the stunning defection spread quickly through the underworld. An attorney was dispatched to the Metropolitan Correction Center to inform jailed Gambino boss John Gotti that Little Al was switching sides.

The acting boss was one of the highest-ranking mobsters to ever flip, and federal authorities took advantage. He testified more than a dozen times against his former friends and the mob's top echelon.

D'Arco was a combative and effective witness. His memory for details and dates was unshakable. He took on New York's top defense attorneys, and refused to let any put words into his mouth.

Testifying at a 1996 competency hearing for Genovese family boss Vincent "Chin" Gigante, D'Arco flew into a rage. "Don't break my chops," D'Arco warned defense attorney Michael Shapiro. "I'll break yours, too."

D'Arco's testimony helped convict ex-cronies Amuso and Casso; Gigante and Colombo boss "Little Vic" Orena; Bonanno consigliere Anthony Spero; Genovese consigliere James Ida; and an assortment of other mobsters.

He testified before uncounted grand juries, spilling about corruption in the unions, the Garment District, the airports and the Hunts Point market. "D'Arco gave them great value for the money," said criminal defense lawyer Edward Hayes. "He testified against a lot of guys, and they got convicted. D'Arco is a lunatic, but he has a story."

Once, in a Brooklyn courtroom, D'Arco stood before a federal judge who noted they had grown up in the same nearby neighborhood. "Yeah," D'Arco replied. "And we both rose to the top of our professions."

Prosecutor Stamboulidis said D'Arco embraced his new calling as fervently as his old. "When he entered an agreement with the government, he answered all the questions with brutal honesty and thoroughness," Stamboulidis said. "A true believer does everything 100 percent. He believes 100 percent in his current position."

His reward came in November 2002, when D'Arco was sentenced at a courtroom in suburban Westchester County. Little Al appeared via closed-circuit television and received time served, which essentially meant no jail time. He was fined $50, and returned to obscurity.

While mob turncoats like Gravano and Hill went back to jail, D'Arco stayed on the right side of the law. And one of the biggest trials yet remained in his future _ one that brought him back to the day when Bruno Facciola had a canary for his last meal.

It was March 2005 when federal authorities announced the indictments of ex-NYPD detectives Stephen Caracappa and Louis Eppolito, former police partners-turned-partners in crime. The two were charged with taking $4,000 a month from Gaspipe Casso to work as Luchese family hit men.

On occasion, they also slipped the underboss inside information. They let Casso know that Facciola was reportedly working as an informant. Casso ordered D'Arco to handle the hit.

Little Al was called again to testify. The federal RICO statute, a powerful tool that allows law enforcement to link crimes committed over decades, made D'Arco every bit as valuable in 2006 as he was 15 years before. It was a big case, and D'Arco could help bring down the "Mafia Cops."

The ex-boss, now 73, looked more grandfatherly than Godfatherly as he testified, his thick Brooklyn accent unchanged by years of life outside the city. He wore a 20-year-old suit to court, one of two now hanging in his closet.

He spent parts of two days on the stand, standing firm under withering cross-examination from Hayes and former Gotti lawyer Bruce Cutler. Caracappa and Eppolito were quickly convicted, and faced life in prison.

Alphonse D'Arco went home, where his loyalty was still appreciated. But there was a moment during his testimony where D'Arco recalled a less complicated time, when he was a young man whose belief in simple values was absolute.

The burly Cutler, his booming voice filling the courtroom, recited a litany of perks that came D'Arco's way from the Witness Protection Program: No jail time. A new identity. An attorney, free of charge. "That's another reward, yes?" Cutler asked.

"I don't see anything to be a reward," D'Arco responded without hesitation. "I'd trade it all to go back on Spring Street."

Thanks to Larry McShane


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