The Chicago Syndicate: Anthony Casso

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

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

New charges for 'Mafia cops'

The "Mafia Cops" have something else to digest over Thanksgiving: a new version of the federal indictment accusing them of being hitmen for the mob. Brooklyn federal prosecutors Wednesday released a retooled indictment, their fourth version, in the racketeering charges against ex-NYPD detectives Louis Eppolito and Steven Caracappa.

Eppolito and Caracappa already face a total of 10 homicide charges in the racketeering case that started with their arrest in March. The new indictment didn't add any new murder victims but did add two murder-for-hire allegations to cover the killings of Gambino mobster Edward Lino in 1990 and diamond dealer Israel Greenwald in 1986. The new charges also added a 1982 bribery allegation against Eppolito,56.

News of a new indictment angered defense attorney Edward Hayes who is representing Caracappa, 63. Hayes said the defense now has to revise motion papers, which already cost tens of thousands of dollars to prepare, because of the latest grand jury action. He thinks prosecutors are trying to delay the trial, now set for February. "This is their fourth try to make this case," said Hayes. "I think it is fair to ask if there are facts they want to put before the jury or whether they want to postpone it because they don't see a way to try the case." A spokesman for the Brooklyn U.S. Attorneys Office couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday.

Caracappa and Eppolito are accused in the case of being hitmen for Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, the now imprisoned former acting boss of the Lucchese crime family. Some of the murders took place while they were with the NYPD. Both defendants had been kept for a time in solitary confinement after their arrest in their home state of Nevada. But Brooklyn federal judge Jack B. Weinstein released them on house arrest with separate $5 million bail packages. Eppolito is living with relatives on Long Island while Caracappa is staying at his mother's house on Staten Island.

Weinstein has expressed concern that the original federal indictment has a serious statute of limitations problems. Generally, racketeering conspiracies like the kind Eppolito and Caracappa are charged with require some act to have been committed within five years of the time of indictment. The original indictment was filed in early March of this year.

The most recent homicide in the case was in 1991. However, prosecutors also originally said Eppolito and Caracappa took part in money laundering and a narcotics conspiracy in late 2004.

Challenging the indictment, the defense has claimed that the drug charges aren't related to the earlier Mafia-linked racketeering homicides and thus can't save the indictment from dismissal. After Weinstein also stated in court that he thought the case had a problem with the statute of limitations, prosecutors began revising the indictment to include crimes as late as October 2002. Prosecutors also made Eppolito and Caracappa the racketeering enterprise, instead of La Cosa Nostra. The defendants are scheduled to be arraigned next Wednesday.

Thanks to Anthony DeStefano

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Will DNA testing clear the "Mafia Cops"?

Friends of ours: Gambino Crime Family, Luchese Crime Family, Edward "Eddie" Lino, Anthony "Gas Pipe" Casso
Friends of Mine: Louis Eppolito and Stephen Carappa

Ex-detectives Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, accused of being hit men for the mob, are seeking to have DNA tests run on a watch found at the scene of one of their alleged gangland murders, sources familiar with the case told Newsday. Legal and law enforcement sources said the defense believes the tests might help to show that Eppolito and Caracappa had nothing to do with the murder and thus cast doubt about other elements of the prosecution's case.

"This might be so important that I think it is better I not say anything," said defense attorney Ed Hayes, who is representing Caracappa.

Among the 10 murders that federal prosecutors in Brooklyn have accused the former cops of being involved in is the Nov. 6, 1990, killing of Gambino family captain Edward "Eddie" Lino. The slaying occurred by the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn.

Lino was believed by investigators to have been one of a group of men involved in an unsuccessful attempt to kill former Luchese crime boss Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso. It was Casso, federal investigators believe, who used Eppolito and Caracappa as alleged mob moles and assassins. Lino was killed after Eppolito and Caracappa followed him from his social club and forced him to pull over as he drove along the parkway, according to the federal charges.

Prosecutors recently turned over numerous pieces of evidence, including the investigative reports about Lino's murder, to defense attorneys. One of the documents indicated that a Pulsar watch was found at the Lino crime scene and that it contained some strands of brown human hair, said a lawyer familiar with the case but who asked not to be identified.

In a letter sent to federal prosecutors Tuesday, Hayes said he wanted to examine the watch and any diagrams, photos and test results related to it. Hayes noted in his letter that only fingerprint tests had been done on the watch and asked that "complete testing" be done. Though the Hayes letter didn't mention DNA tests, sources familiar with the case said defense attorneys believe DNA testing might show the hair strands were not from Caracappa or Eppolito. A law enforcement source, who also asked not to be identified, said it was unclear if the DNA that may be discovered from testing would be definitive about anything related to the case.

Thanks to ANTHONY M. DESTEFANO of Newsday

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

'Mafia Cops' lawyers demanding witness information

Lawyers for the "Mafia Cops" are pressing federal prosecutors to disclose whether a key government witness was a secret informant at a time when he allegedly helped engineer some mob murders.

Edward Hayes, who is representing ex-NYPD detective Stephen Caracappa, said in a letter to prosecutors that he has learned that the informant was providing information to the government much earlier than the defense has been led to believe

Caracappa, 63, and Louis Eppolito, 56, have been indicted on charges they worked as moles for the mob while they were detectives in the 1980s and '90s, and played roles in several hits. Court records and law enforcement sources have indicated that convicted drug trafficker Burton Kaplan is the main source of information used to get the two former cops indicted.

Citing his own sources and a recent Vanity Fair article, Hayes said in his Sept. 1 letter to prosecutors that Kaplan was providing information to the government well before the 2005 indictment against his client. If true, said Hayes, Kaplan might have himself exploited his relationship with investigators to glean information useful for the mob hits.

"Obviously, if he had a relationship with some law enforcement agency and failed to disclose it: 1. that relationship could be a source of information used to kill these individuals, and 2: failure to disclose it could show that he felt guilty or desired concealment of the relationship," Hayes said in his letter to Brooklyn Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Henoch.

Kaplan, whose daughter is a city criminal court judge, was convicted in 1998 on charges he trafficked in several tons of marijuana. He was sentenced to 27 years in prison. He apparently began cooperating against the former detectives in 2004. Kaplan reportedly was the intermediary between former acting Lucchese crime boss Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso and Caracappa and Eppolito. Government records also revealed that Kaplan had ties to high-ranking members of the Bonanno crime family. He apparently began cooperating in early 2004.

According to an article in Vanity Fair last month that cited two retired police detectives and an FBI agent, all unidentified, Kaplan never disclosed his status as a confidential informant in the 1980s. The magazine stated that the FBI agent later changed his story, claiming to have never used Kaplan as an informant.

Hayes asked Henoch to provide him with information about "the circumstances in which Mr. Kaplan first began providing information of any sort to any government representatives, particularly federal agents." Hayes also wants to know if Kaplan was an informant when he was arrested in the 1990s.

Henoch couldn't be reached for comment yesterday.

Thanks to Anthony M. Destefano

Monday, August 15, 2005

Did cops double as mob hit men?

In Las Vegas, the players on the Strip know that a safe bet for celebrity sightings and traditional Italian food — a Caesar’s and Osso Bucco— is Piero’s.

It was supposed to be a quiet night at the restaurant one Wednesday in March, but it turned out to be anything but. As manager Linda Kajor started greeting two regulars strolling in for an early dinner, out of nowhere, guns were drawn all around. "Out of nowhere, the people at the end of the bar came running forward with guns drawn," recalls Kajor. "The front doors open up, and cops come running in. There are cops everywhere running after these two men that were standing there. We were very scared.”

The two patrons were suddenly thrown up against the wall and cuffed by federal agents. The pair were former New York City detectives about to be charged, astonishingly, as hit men for the mob. Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa weren’t just accused of being crooked, violent, or on the take — they were accused of being “mafia cops” and taking part in nine murders on behalf of an organized crime family, starting as far back as the 1980s.

U.S. Attorney Roslynn Mauskopf called it a “stunning betrayal of their shields, their colleagues and the citizens they were sworn to protect.”

A plotline worthy of a grade-D mob movieIt sounds like the stale script from a hack screenwriter with its storyline of bent cops, played by the usual over-the-top suspects. “This is a story of an organized crime person who joins the police department and then participates in organized hits and compromises investigations,” describes veteran police reporter Murray Weiss, who now works for New York’s Daily News. “People go ‘Ah, piece of junky pulp fiction.’ But it’s reality.”

Eppolito and Caracappa have both declared their innocence all along. Is this cops-gone-wild story mainly outrageous accusations made by convicted gangsters looking out for their own skin?

Caracappa’s defense attorney, Ed Hayes, thinks so. “Nobody gave these guys a fair shot,” says Hayes.

According to the prosecutor’s version however, the charges against the two former detectives are indefensible — and the most extreme acts took place on New York City’s busy Belt Parkway.

The former cops are accused of pulling over a small time hood in an unmarked police car in 1990 and killing him on behalf of another mobster who allegedly paid them $65,000 for the hit. “It’s still shocking to think that two cops would actually pull the trigger and kill someone,” says Newsday reporter Rocco Parascandola.

Even New Yorkers who thought they’d heard it all were flabbergasted. “Never has there been allegations like this. Never has there been policemen going out with their badges and killing people systematically and working with organized crime,” says Weiss.

A 'Dirty Harry' type and his low-key partnerStephen Caracappa worked in a major case squad tracking homicides inside organized crime circles. He had access to confidential information on mob informants. Slight and intense, Caracappa was as low-key as his friend was swaggering.

Louis Eppolito, a gold chain-wearing, pinky-ringed, decorated street detective from Brooklyn made his name taking down the toughest of thugs.

Eppolito, a former body builder, liked reading about his exploits the day after a big arrest. He seemed to relish the notoriety and the deference that came his way as the son of a mobbed-up family. “He just loved being the ‘Dirty Harry’ guy,” says Weiss. “His uncle’s name was ‘Jimmy the Clam’ and these were tough gangsters at seriously important levels of organized crime.”

After he retired from the NYPD, Eppolito wrote a self-congratulatory autobiography, “Mafia Cop.” The book was about walking the straight line as a detective from a family background steeped in organized crime. But was he a straight cop? In 1984, he’d been the target of an internal police investigation, suspected of leaking confidential documents to a known mob figure. He was cleared of the charges, but the rumors about Eppolito followed him all the way to his retirement in 1990.

After he turned in his badge, he even toyed with his reputation and got a few bit parts playing Mafiosos in movies like “Goodfellas.”

The case against the detectives

According to charges filed by the U.S. attorney, Eppolito was not only playing a movie mobster, he was one. And so was his quiet friend Stephen Caracappa. Authorities believe that starting in the mid-1980s, when both were New York detectives, they were also on the payroll of a crime family underboss who supposedly paid the cops $4,000 a month to be his “crystal balls.”

The two cops each brought something to the table, as Weiss sees it: “One guy is in bed with the mob and comes from a mob family, and the other guy is quiet and subdued, and winds up in a unit where he has access to all this confidential information involving organized crime.”

The files Caracappa had access would have been vital: “It’s priceless. You know who your enemies are and to find out who might be the witness against you… [You know] who’s starting to cooperate against the police and you can eliminate them. That by definition eliminates the case against you,” says Weiss.

Prosecutors believe that mobster Anthony “Gaspipe” Casso of the Luchese crime family paid the two to feed him confidential police information.

Casso particularly wanted to find out who’d tried to whack him in 1986. According to the indictment, the two detectives not only gave “Gaspipe” details about who was behind the botched hit, but were actually hands-on in helping execute his revenge. “They literally went and got that person and drove him, took him off the streets, threw him in a trunk and brought him to Casso,” describes Weiss of the allegations. But in the early ‘90s, after more than 20 years on the force, Eppolito and Caracappa retired to homes in a gated community in Las Vegas. They became across-the-street neighbors.

Back east, meanwhile, authorities had caught up with “Gaspipe” Casso who admitted involvement in 36 murders. The mobster began offering lurid stories about the two cops.

Still, the case against them didn’t gain traction until a team of investigators started going through old computer records and made links that, they believed, showed Caracappa had been pulling up files on mobsters who shortly thereafter ended up dead. The computer searches Caracappa made supposedly left virtual fingerprints.

In addition to computer file evidence, it’s believed that prosecutors also have a retired businessman, currently serving a 27-year prison sentence on mafia drug charges, prepared to testify that he was the middleman between “Gaspipe” Casso and the two detectives.

In a case built on decades-old stories told by accusations from convicted mobsters, the defense team is expected to attack the credibility of the government’s key witnesses.

“Anthony ‘Gaspipe’ Casso was the underboss of a crime family,” says Hayes, Caracappa’s defense attorney. “He is a raving lunatic. Nobody believed Casso. He, in fact, was so unbelievable the other gangsters didn’t believe him.”

In July, a federal judge said the evidence was stale and “not strong” — even questioning whether a statute of limitations may apply to the some of the charges. The prosecution did not contest the judge’s decision to release Caracappa and Eppolito on $5 million bonds.

The pair have been placed under house arrest with electronic ankle bracelets until their trial scheduled for September. They have both pleaded not guilty.

Thanks to Dennis Murphy

Wednesday, May 15, 1996

Anthony Casso to Testify Against the Russian Mafia

Two years after defecting with a parcel of underworld secrets, a former Mafia kingpin is expected to surface publicly for the first time today to testify about the mob's alliances with Russian organized crime groups in the New York area.

Anthony S. Casso, the former acting boss of the Lucchese crime family in New York City, is scheduled to testify in Washington before a United States Senate Committee about murders and violent conspiracies arranged by American mobsters with Russian immigrant gangs, committee investigators said yesterday.

While such ties have been known to investigators in the past, Mr. Casso's testimony is expected to provide a rare glimpse from a leading Mafia figure about the links between the powerful organized crime groups.

His testimony is part of his bid for a lenient sentence on racketeering and murder charges to which he pleaded guilty in 1994.

The investigators said that another witness, a turncoat Russian criminal, would describe attempts by Russian gangsters to extort hundreds of thousands of dollars from Russian players in the National Hockey League. In the past, league officials and players' agents said they were concerned that Russian gangsters were concentrating on Russian athletes. But the only evidence produced thus far was in March 1994, when a Russian immigrant pleaded guilty to a charge that he tried to extort $150,000 from Alexander Mogilny, who was then a player for the Buffalo Sabres.

The Senate panel, the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, is looking into the emergence in the last decade of Russian immigrant crime groups in the country, and their ties to other crime groups.

"Casso will tell how the New York mobsters used their muscle to cash in on schemes and frauds that the Russians developed, especially gasoline tax frauds and gasoline bootlegging," said a committee investigator who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

"The Russians supplied the brains and the Mafia supplied the hit men," the investigator added.

Senator William V. Roth, a Republican of Delaware, the committee's chairman, said in a statement yesterday that Mr. Casso will describe violent acts carried out by the Lucchese family for their Russian confederates and how Lucchese mobsters killed a Russian partner whom they suspected of disloyalty.

Another Mafia defector, Michael Franzese, who has admitted to being a captain in the Colombo crime family, is expected to testify about multimillion-dollar gasoline excise tax frauds engineered by Russian criminals and the Colombos, investigators said.

The relationships between Russian immigrant gangs and the Colombo and Gambino crime families were established in the 1980's at Federal trials in New York and in New Jersey. But Mr. Casso's testimony will shed light for the first time on the Lucchese faction's ties with its Russian counterparts, investigators said.

Mr. Casso, 56, who was nicknamed Gaspipe, would become the highest-ranking Mafia defector to provide details of the mob's connections to Russian gangsters.

Federal and state law enforcement officials say that a small group of Russian-born criminals slipped into the country in the 1970's and early 1980's among a wave of immigrants from the Soviet Union seeking political and religious freedom. These criminals, officials say, settled mainly in Brighton Beach and nearby sections of South Brooklyn and specialized in frauds and extortion of merchants in protection rackets.

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 brought a new and more sophisticated group of criminals with direct links to organized crime gangs in Russia and in other countries, the officials say.

According to the authorities, the new groups have established bases in southern Florida and in Los Angeles, Boston and Philadelphia as well as in the New York region. They are extensively engaged in international narcotics trafficking and money laundering, the authorities say.

Before changing sides, Mr. Casso was portrayed by the F.B.I. as one of the country's most treacherous Mafia leaders.

He was considered a symbol of a new breed of dangerous Mafia gangsters who emerged in the 1980's to fill power vacuums in the five mob families in the New York area.

On the run for 32 months, Mr. Casso was captured in January 1993 by the F.B.I. in a hideout in Mount Olive, N.J. Facing life without parole if convicted, Mr. Casso sought leniency by becoming a Government witness and entering the Witness Protection Program.

In March 1994, at a closed hearing in Federal District Court in Brooklyn, he pleaded guilty to racketeering and murder charges and is awaiting sentencing.

Thanks to Selwyn Raab

Wednesday, February 03, 1993

Uncle of Mafia Informant, Peter "Big Pete" Chiodo, is Found Slain in Brooklyn

Two years ago Peter Chiodo of Staten Island was shot a dozen times and critically wounded, but the 500-pound informer against the Mafia still lived to testify against a dozen major underworld figures.

A year ago Mr. Chiodo's sister, Patricia Capozzalo, of Brooklyn, was seriously wounded in what the authorities described as a failed attempt by the mob to kill her.

And yesterday, the police found the body of Mr. Chiodo's uncle, Frank Signorino, of Staten Island, stuffed in the trunk of a parked car in East New York, Brooklyn. There were numerous wounds to his forehead, some resembling gunshot wounds.

The authorities would not say last night what the motive might have been in Mr. Signorino's slaying. But the investigators and witnesses in the trials of Mafia leaders last year have said that the earlier shootings were intended to intimidate Mr. Chiodo into silence. Role in Upcoming Trial

Ronald Goldstock, director of the New York State Organized Crime Task Force, said of Mr. Signorino's slaying, "There could be a thousand reasons for it, and the silencing of Mr. Chiodo is one possible motive."

Mr. Chiodo, one of the more prominent witnesses in the Federal Government's recent prosecutions of Mafia leaders, is expected to testify again at the upcoming trial of Anthony Casso of Brooklyn, whom prosecutors say is the boss of the Lucchese crime family.

Mr. Casso was captured by the F.B.I. two weeks ago as he was getting out of a shower at a hideout in Mt. Olive, N.J. He had been a fugitive for almost three years and had been charged with ordering the killings of 11 people linked to fraudulent construction contracts in New York.

Mr. Casso has been described by Federal authorities as one of the most dangerous Mafia figures in the country. With his capture, officials say the leaders of the region's five Mafia groups are either serving long prison terms or awaiting trial.

The police discovered the body of Mr. Signorino with a black plastic bag tied around his head in the trunk of an abandoned car at Vermont Street and Flatlands Avenue. Reported Missing

Sgt. Michael Race of the 75th Detective Squad said the remains, which were frozen, were turned over to the city Medical Examiner's Office, which will perform an autopsy.

"The body was frozen," Sergeant Race said "Mr. Signorino was reported missing three days ago, and we are not exactly sure what caused the wounds in his head." The detective said the remains had been identified by the dead man's family.

Sergeant Race said the authorities were trying to determine whether Mr. Signorino had any ties to the Mafia.

Mr. Chiodo, whose girth earned him the nickname "Big Pete," turned informant against Mafia figures after being shot a dozen times in May, 1991.

Mr. Chiodo, who has admitted that he was a captain in the Lucchese crime family, said he decided to cooperate with the authorities after two of his criminal associates threatened to kill his wife and his father.

According to the authorities, in the yearlong interval between the shooting of Mr. Chiodo and that of his sister, there were repeated attempts to intimidate other relatives of Mr. Chiodo's.

At the trial last year of Vittorio Amuso, a Lucchese crime chieftain who was convicted of nine murders, Alfonse D'Arco, another underworld figure turned informant, testified that he had made such attempts. Mr. Chiodo also testified about Mafia activities at that trial.

Another person connected to Mr. Chiodo, Anthony Fava, who the police said was a close associate, was found shot to death in Brooklyn 18 months ago. None of shootings has been solved.

Thanks to Richard D. Lyons.

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