The Chicago Syndicate: Anthony Casso

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

Friday, May 05, 2006

Judge: Basis for Appeal in 'Mafia Cops' Trial

The judge, who presided over the Mafia Cops Trial, of two former police detectives convicted of moonlighting as hit men for the mob denied the defendants' request to overturn the verdict, but the judge acknowledged there is basis for an appeal.

Louis Eppolito and former New York Police Department partner Stephen Caracappa were convicted on April 6 of participating in eight killings while on the payroll of a Mafia underboss, Anthony Casso.

Their lawyers appeared before U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein.

Weinstein says "It was not a strong case, and the government was warned that from day one.'' Eppolito and Caracappa were respected detectives who worked as hired killers for Casso from 1986 to 1990. In two of the slayings, they used their police credentials to make traffic stops that ended with the drivers killed.

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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Mandalay Hopes "Mafia Cop" Produces Another Hit

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

Mandalay Pictures has turned last week's national news headlines into a project titled "Mafia Cop", a film based on the life of highly decorated NYPD detective Louis Eppolito, who was found guilty, along with Steven Caracappa, of participating in eight murders, two attempted murders, one murder conspiracy, money laundering, obstruction of justice and drug distribution.

Mandalay has Eppolito's life rights as well as film rights to the book the highly decorated imprisoned detective penned with Bob Drury about his life . The case is being labelled as one of the worst police corruption scandals in New York's history and detailed accounts on the stand showed the men often used their power to commit crimes while feeding police intelligence to Mafia underboss Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso.

Eppolito also has more than a dozen acting credits on his resume including Martin Scorsese's "GoodFellas". Scribe Dan Gordon ("The Hurricane") who attended the three-week trial will pen the screenplay

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Two Decades Later, Family Sees Justice in New York 'Mafia Cops' Case

Friends of ours: Lucchese Crime Family, Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, Gambino Crime Family, Jimmy Hydell, Eddie Lino
Friends of mine: Louis Eppolito, Stephen Caracappa

In 1986, an unassuming jeweler named Israel Greenwald was secretly shot dead inside a Brooklyn garage and buried on the spot. His family had no clue he was executed _ or that two police detectives doubling as hit men for the Mafia were involved.

The family finally found a measure of peace on Thursday while on hand for guilty verdicts against Louis Eppolito and Steven Caracappa, the so-called "Mafia Cops". "Finally, justice has been served," Greenwald's 28-year-old daughter, Lea, told reporters outside a Brooklyn courtroom.

The convictions - which came two decades after the ex-detectives committed their first murder on orders from Luchese underboss Anthony ''Gaspipe'' Casso - closed perhaps the most astonishing police corruption case in city history.

"There has never been, in the history of the NYPD, an officer convicted of being a hit man for the mob," said Tom Reppetto, co-author of "American Mafia" and "NYPD," a department history.

"There's cases of police misconduct, but going to work for organized crime? Wow." The federal jury in Brooklyn deliberated for two days in the case against Eppolito and Caracappa, who spent a combined 44 years on the force and once worked as partners. The pair, who were immediately jailed after the verdict, face up to life in prison.

Neither defendant betrayed any emotion during the 10 minutes where the jury forewoman replied "proven" 70 times to the racketeering acts.

Eppolito, 57, whose father was a member of the Gambino crime family, and Caracappa, 64, were respected city detectives who moonlighted as hired killers for Casso between 1986 and 1990. In two of the slayings, they used their police credentials to make traffic stops that ended with the driver killed.

In another instance, the pair kidnapped a man suspected in an attempted mob hit against Casso and turned him over to the underboss. Casso, a remorseless mobster responsible for 36 slayings, reportedly tortured and killed Jimmy Hydell in September 1986.

The most shocking murder involved bad information provided by the detectives about another suspect in the Casso murder attempt. The tip led to the mistaken-identity murder of an innocent man killed as his mother washed the dishes following a Christmas Day family dinner.

U.S. District Court Judge Jack B. Weinstein immediately revoked the defendants' $5 million bail pending their May 22 sentencing.

Hayes and Eppolito's attorney, Bruce Cutler, said they would appeal. "It's an appearance of justice, but it's not justice," Cutler told reporters outside court.

Prosecutors charged that the two used their positions as crime fighters to aid the crime family - at a price of $4,000 a month. Their salary increased when the detectives personally handled the killing, authorities said; they earned $65,000 for the slaying of mobster Eddie Lino during a phony traffic stop.

It was one of two slayings where the pair was directly involved.

A witness testified that Caracappa was present during the February 1986 slaying of Greenwald, who was allegedly cooperating with federal authorities. Jurors heard testimony from a parking lot attendant who described publicly for the first time how Eppolito stood guard while he was forced to dig a grave for the victim or face a bullet himself.

Another key prosecution witness was Burton Kaplan, an acknowledged drug dealer who spent four days on the stand linking the pair to an assortment of murders between 1986 and 1990. Kaplan testified that he served as a middleman between Casso and the detectives.

Before the defendants were led away to jail, Eppolito calmly removed his tie, belt and a gold chain from his bulky frame and handed them to one of his daughters. Left behindon the defense table were wrapping paper from Caracappa's Life Savers, a blank verdict sheet, some court transcripts and a fortune from a fortune cookie.

It read: "Wisdom is the principal thing."

Thanks to Tom Hays

Friday, April 07, 2006

NYPD Detectives Convicted of Mob Murders

Friends of ours: Lucchese Crime Family, Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, John Gotti, Gambino Crime Family, Jimmy Hydell, Nicholas Guido
Friends of mine: Loui Eppolito, Steven Caracappa

Two highly decorated former detectives were convicted Thursday of moonlighting as hitmen for the mob in one of the most sensational cases of police corruption in New York history.

Louis Eppolito, 57, and Steven Caracappa, 64, could get life in prison for their roles in eight murders committed between 1986 and 1990 while they were simultaneously on the payroll of both the NYPD and Luchese crime family underboss Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso.

Federal prosecutor Daniel Wenner described the case as "the bloodiest, most violent betrayal of the badge this city has ever seen." Prosecutors said the two men carried out two hits themselves — in one case after pulling a mobster over in a phony traffic stop — and delivered up some of the other victims to the Mafia to be killed.

The defendants rubbed their faces and stared at the federal jury upon hearing the verdict, reached after two days of deliberations. Eppolito's family wept. The defendants' $5 million bail was revoked and they were led off to jail to await sentencing May 22.

The men's lawyers said they will appeal. "It's an appearance of justice, but it's not justice," said Bruce Cutler, who once represented John Gotti and put on a thundering defense of the two former officers, claiming the government's mob witnesses were lying to save their necks.

Prosecutors said the two used their law enforcement positions to help the Mafia at a price of $4,000 per month — more if they personally handled a killing. They earned $65,000 for the phony traffic stop slaying, prosecutors said. The two officers also supplied Casso with inside information on law enforcement interest in the mob, prosecutors said. Casso was said to have referred to the two men as his "crystal ball."

They were convicted of charges that included racketeering conspiracy, witness tampering, witness retaliation and obstruction of justice.

Caracappa, who retired in 1992, helped establish the city police department's unit for Mafia murder investigations. Eppolito, the son of a Gambino crime family member, was a much-praised street cop, although there were suggestions that some of his arrests resulted from tips from mobsters.

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

The former detectives, who retired to homes on the same block in Las Vegas, insisted on their innocence from the time of their arrests in March 2005. But neither took the stand at their trial.

The key prosecution witness was Burton Kaplan, a drug dealer who spent four days on the stand linking the pair to an assortment of murders. Kaplan testified that he served as middleman between Casso and the detectives.

Casso, known as one of the most brutal mobsters in the city, is suspected of involvement in 36 murders himself. Both sides considered calling him as a witness but ultimately decided Casso came with too much baggage.

According to testimony, the detectives "arrested" a mobster named Jimmy Hydell in 1986, but instead delivered him to Casso for torture and execution.

That same year, the pair furnished the underboss with information on where to find Nicholas Guido, a mobster involved in a planned hit on Casso. Their inaccurate tip led to an innocent man with the same name, who was killed after Christmas dinner at his mother's house.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

"Mafia Cops" Convicted of Murder

Friends of ours: Lucchese Crime Family, Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, Gambino Crime Family, Eddie Lino, Nicholas Guido, Jimmy Hydell
Friends of mine: Louis Eppolito, Steven Caracappa

Two decorated former New York City police detectives were convicted Thursday of murder while on the payroll of a Mafia underboss in one of the most astounding police corruption cases in city history.

The federal jury deliberated for two days in the case against Louis Eppolito and Steven Caracappa, who spent a combined 44 years on the force and once worked as partners.

They face up to life in prison.

Eppolito, 57, and Caracappa, 64, were accused of leading a double life for years: respected city detectives who moonlighted as hired killers for Luchese crime family underboss Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Wenner described the case against the so-called "Mafia cops" as "the bloodiest, most violent betrayal of the badge this city has ever seen."

The defendants showed no visible reaction, while Eppolito's family wept as the verdict was read.

The men were accused in eight murders, with prosecutors charging that the two used their positions as crime fighters to aid the crime family -- at a price of $4,000 a month.

Their salary increased when the detectives personally handled the killing, authorities said; they earned $65,000 for the slaying of a mobster during a phony traffic stop.

Casso also referred to the pair as his "crystal ball," providing inside information on law enforcement interest in the mob world, authorities said. Caracappa, who retired in 1992, helped establish the city police department's office for Mafia murder probes.

Eppolito, the son of a Gambino crime family member, was a much-praised street cop -- although there were suggestions that some of his arrests followed tips provided by mobsters. The contrast between his police work and his "family" life was detailed in his autobiography, "Mafia Cop."

Eppolito also played a bit part in the classic mob movie "GoodFellas." After retiring in 1990, he unsuccessfully tried his hand at Hollywood script writing.

Since their March 2005 arrests, the men have said they are innocent. But neither one took the stand to refute charges in the trial that began March 13.

The key prosecution witness was Burton Kaplan, an acknowledged drug dealer who spent four days on the stand linking the pair to an assortment of murders between 1986 and 1990. Kaplan testified that he served as middleman between Casso and the detectives.

Casso, known as one of the most brutal mobsters in the city, was reportedly involved in 36 murders himself.

Both sides considered calling him as a witness, but ultimately decided Casso came with too much baggage -- even after he wrote a letter from prison insisting the detectives were innocent of several crimes.

The details of the alleged killing spree were chilling. The detectives allegedly "arrested" a mobster named Jimmy Hydell in 1986, but instead delivered him to Casso for torture and execution.

That same year, the pair allegedly furnished the underboss with information to locate Nicholas Guido, a mobster involved in a planned hit on Casso. Their inaccurate tip led to the slaying of an innocent man who was having Christmas dinner at his mother's house.

The detectives also were charged with killing Gambino family member Eddie Lino during what began as a routine traffic stop, and finished with Caracappa allegedly shooting the mobster.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Defense in "Mafia Cops" Trial Closes in a Blaze of Name-Calling

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

After three weeks of testimony about gunshot wounds and buried bodies, about capos and whispered orders, the defense in the "Mafia cops" trial rested Tuesday morning with the image of a gnome.

"Franzone is a gnome," attorney Bruce Cutler said of a key government witness against his client, a retired New York City Police detective named Louis Eppolito. "A gnome," he said, "is defined as one of a race of dwarf-like creatures who lives underground and guards treasure hoards…. He's a creep and a lowlife and a liar."

It was a fitting end to a trial that has provided a three-week tour through Brooklyn's criminal underworld. Eppolito and his onetime partner, Stephen Caracappa, who retired from the force in the early 1990s, are accused of assisting a Luchese crime family underboss and participating in killings and racketeering.

Jurors will begin deliberations in the case today. Eppolito and Caracappa face the possibility of life in prison if convicted.

Prosecutor Daniel Wenner has called the case "one of the bloodiest and most violent betrayals of the badge this city has ever seen."

With little physical evidence, the government has built its case on the testimony of a series of shady figures — made men, felons, errand boys, stool pigeons — who testified that the two cops crossed over into their world.

The government's star witness was Burton Kaplan, 72, who is serving a 27-year sentence for drug dealing. Kaplan — a querulous, arthritic man — described himself as so ill-equipped for violence that when he was asked to ferry a corpse to Connecticut, he was "scared to death" and trembled the whole way.

Kaplan, a Jew, knew he could never be a made man, but he was well-connected. He introduced Eppolito and Caracappa to Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, a Luchese underboss who began paying them a $4,000-a-month retainer to pass on police intelligence, Kaplan testified.

The prosecution also called Steven Corso, a New York accountant who moved to Las Vegas in 2002 after being convicted of embezzling almost $6 million. Corso made a deal with the government and became a one-man sting operation. It was in Nevada that he crossed paths with Eppolito, who had moved west to become a screenwriter. Last year, Corso said, he offered to introduce Eppolito to a group of movie industry players, telling him, "They're Hollywood punks — some of 'em are famous." When the contacts wanted methamphetamine, Corso testified, Eppolito offered to supply the drugs.

Then last week, the jury heard from Peter Franzone, 56, a Flatbush tow-truck driver. He described a February afternoon in 1986 when Eppolito's cousin, Frank Santora Jr., strode into his garage with two other men while Eppolito stood watch outside. Twenty minutes later, Santora led Franzone into the garage, where he showed him a body and handed him a shovel, he testified.

"Frankie told me I gotta help bury the body because I'm an accessory, and if I didn't help him, he would kill me," Franzone said. He did not report the crime until last year — when he was approached by prosecutors — because, he said, "Who would believe me?"

In closing arguments, Cutler and Caracappa's lawyer, Edward Hayes, heaped disdain on the government's witnesses.

By the 1980s, Hayes said, "the Mafia's over. What are you left with? Informants. Casso is an escapee from the Bronx Zoo." As for Corso, Cutler called him a "sophisticated, unctuous, polished, lowlife thief." But chief prosecutor Robert Henoch said Cutler and Hayes had failed to explain why Eppolito and Caracappa had relationships with criminals like Kaplan in the first place. Why, he asked, would someone like Kaplan be able to describe Eppolito's basement, or Caracappa's pet cat?

"The truth is not always pretty, but the truth is always perfect," he said, addressing one of the defense attorneys. "You're the best lawyer in America, but you can't explain that away."

Thanks to Ellen Barry

Closing Arguments Begin in Colorful 'Mafia Cops' Trial

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, April 03, 2006

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks to Jeff Harrell

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Judge Denies Mistrial for "Mafia Cops"

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

A federal judge ruled that 11th-hour revelations by a jailed Mafia underboss is not enough to cause a mistrial in the case of two former detectives accused of moonlighting for the mob.

Judge Jack Weinstein told attorneys for Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa they can still call Luchese underboss Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso as a witness. The lawyers told the judge yesterday that Casso claims that their clients are innocent of some of the charges -- reversing allegations he made against the pair. The defense will decide today whether Casso will testify next week.

In a phone call yesterday from prison, lawyers said Casso referred them to a letter he wrote to federal prosecutors in which he claimed responsibility for some of the crimes for which Eppolito and Caracappa are charged.

Eppolito and Caracappa face charges for eight murders, two attempted murders and money laundering.

Casso pleaded guilty to murder and racketeering charges in 1994 and is currently serving a life sentence at a Colorado prison.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Man Says "Mafia Cops" Ordered Him to Dig Grave

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

A tow truck driver testified Tuesday that he was forced to dig the grave of a jeweler who was allegedly kidnapped and killed in 1986 by two New York City detectives moonlighting as hit men for the mob.

A gangster involved in the Brooklyn slaying "told me that I had to help bury the dead man," Peter Franzone said at the federal trial of the former detectives, Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa. "He said if I told anybody, he'd kill me and my family."

The 56-year-old witness said he kept quiet for 19 years because he was convinced no one would believe that police were mixed up with the mob, and because he feared Eppolito might put him in his own grave. "I was afraid of Louie Eppolito," he said.

Franzone broke his silence last year under questioning by federal authorities reinvestigating the slaying of Israel Greenwald, a Diamond District jeweler who ran afoul of the Luchese crime family.

Authorities allege Eppolito, 57, and Caracappa, 64, were involved in the killings of Greenwald and seven other victims between 1986 and 1990 while on the payroll both of the NYPD and Luchese underboss Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso. Prosecutors said the detectives committed killings for up to $65,000 a hit.

Greenwald was killed in 1986 after being pulled over by Eppolito and Caracappa and taken to a parking garage managed by Franzone, prosecutors said.

On the witness stand Tuesday, the tow truck driver told jurors he had seen a man in a pinstriped suit and a yarmulke being led inside a one-car garage by a Luchese associate, Frank Santoro, and a man fitting the description of Caracappa. Eppolito -- whom he had previously met -- was waiting in a car outside, he said.

Franzone said about 20 minutes later, the garage door opened, and Santoro and the other man emerged without Greenwald. The other man left with Eppolito, and then Santoro took Franzone into the garage, showed him the victim's body and ordered him to dig a 5-foot grave in the garage, the witness testified.

The body was dumped in the hole, and covered with cement. Santoro himself was killed the next year.

Greenwald's body was discovered last April after Franzone told investigators where to find it. Authorities said the jeweler had been shot in the head.

Monday, March 27, 2006

'Mafia Cops' Trial Has Lots of Theatrics

Louie Eppolito had a story to tell. And, more importantly, one to sell.

The decorated ex-New York police detective, who also happened to be the son of a mobster, was living in Las Vegas and trying to peddle doomed screenplays with titles like "Murder In Youngstown." Eppolito was looking for an investor in his latest project and he was unconcerned about the source of the cash.

"If you said to me, `Lou, I wanna introduce you to Jack Smith, he wants to invest in this film,' (and) he says, `$75,000 comes in a (expletive) shoe box,' that's fine with me," Eppolito said during a surreptitiously taped conversation with a federal informant. "I don't care. I've had people give me money before."

It sounds like movie dialogue, maybe something out of "Get Shorty (Two-Disc Special Edition)." No surprise the trial of so-called "Mafia Cops" Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, heading into its third week, has featured plenty of theatrics.

The courtroom histrionics occasionally threaten to overshadow one of the most serious prosecutions in city history: a pair of top-echelon NYPD detectives accused of using their prized gold shields to kill eight people at the behest of a brutal mob underboss, Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso.

Prosecutors allege that Eppolito, 57, and Caracappa, 64, were partners in crime from 1979 to last year, when they were arrested in Las Vegas. They remain free on $5 million bail.

The first day of testimony was punctuated with a screaming match between turncoat mobster Alphonse "Little Al" D'Arco and defense attorney Bruce Cutler, who made his reputation defending the late Gambino family boss John Gotti.

"I don't know what the hell you're talking about," snapped the grandfatherly D'Arco, 73, his Brooklyn accent unaltered by 15 years in witness protection. "You're not making any sense to me."

Cutler, his deep voice rising, tried to ask another question: "Wouldn't you agree with me …"

"I wouldn't agree with you on anything!" shouted D'Arco, who was threatened with contempt by U.S. District Judge Jack B. Weinstein. That was before the one-time Luchese boss ripped into Cutler as a loudmouth and a cheapskate. The judge showed little more tolerance for Cutler, cutting off his cross-examination for shouting at D'Arco.

The defendants themselves are a mismatched pair: the portly Eppolito, whose reputation was made as a street cop, comes to court in an ill-fitting sports coat. Caracappa so thin he was known among fellow cops as "The Stick" is fastidious in appearance, right down to his neatly trimmed mustache.

The prosecution has already called its key witness, confessed drug dealer Burton Kaplan, who spent four days testifying about the two detectives' brutal work on behalf of Luchese underboss Casso. Kaplan implicated the pair in a dozen homicides.

Cross-examination of another prosecution witness, crooked accountant Steven Corso, focused on his theft of $5.3 million from an ex-employer to finance a life of what he called "girlfriends, jewelry and going out." It was Corso who recorded the conversations with Eppolito about film financing. The ex-detective, playing up his mob pedigree, sprinkled the conversation with mob names like "Jimmy the Buffalo" and the late crime boss Joe Bonanno.

There was one witness whose testimony tugged on heartstrings while going to the heart of the case: Pauline Pipitone, describing how her youngest son, 26-year-old Nicholas Guido, had come home for Christmas dinner in 1986.

It was Guido's misfortune to share his name with a mobster involved in a botched hit on Casso. When the underboss wanted revenge, prosecutors said, he turned to the two detectives who provided an address for the wrong Nicholas Guido.

The innocent man was showing off his new car when he was shot by mob hit men. Pipitone was inside washing dishes.

"I ran over to the car," she testified. "He was sitting up at the wheel. I went to touch his hand, and he must have just died. His fingertips were cold."

Thanks to Larry McShane

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Mama Gets Her shot at 'Mob cops'

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

Twenty years after Jimmy Hydell disappeared on a rainy Saturday, his mother will get her chance at revenge against the men she believes delivered him to his death - the so-called Mafia cops. Betty Hydell is set to take the stand this week to testify that Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa were looking for her son the day he disappeared.

Eppolito, 57, and Caracappa, 64, have been charged with kidnapping Jimmy Hydell and handing him over to gangster Anthony (Gaspipe) Casso. The two ex-NYPD detectives are on trial in Brooklyn Federal Court on charges they killed and committed other crimes while secretly working for the mob.

Casso allegedly tortured Hydell, a wanna-be wiseguy, for hours, then fatally shot him after getting him to reveal the name of cohorts who had attempted to kill the Luchese capo, authorities contend.

Testimony last week by Burton Kaplan, a key government witness, has infuriated Betty Hydell further, her daughter told the Daily News.

Kaplan told jurors Jimmy Hydell knew he was going to die and begged Casso to "throw him in the street" so his mom could collect insurance. Kaplan said Casso promised he would, but Hydell's body was never found. "My mother was very upset about this," said Liz Hydell. "She's ready to come to court."

Documents obtained by the Daily News show Betty Hydell first contacted authorities about the two cops she believed were involved in her son's death seven years before the duo was arrested.

Betty Hydell, according to those papers, is expected to describe how, soon after Jimmy left the house on Oct. 18, 1986, her other son, Frank, returned to say he'd been followed by two men in a light blue sedan. He was driving Jimmy's car.

Hydell got in her car and found the sedan parked near her house. She says she pulled up alongside and asked the men who they were. The driver flashed a badge and she remembers saying, "You should let people know what you're doing."

Some time later, an NYPD detective showed up with Jimmy's clothes and a key ring. She didn't recognize the keys, but something on the ring was his. She kept the clothes for years.

At the time, she did not know the identity of the two cops and told no one of her suspicions. She feared retaliation against her Frank Hydell, who had his own problems with the law.

In April 1998, Frank was gunned down outside a Staten Island strip club. Betty Hydell claims she then told law enforcement officials her belief that two cops had kidnapped her son.

By then, she said she could identify them - claiming some years earlier that she saw Eppolito plugging his 1992 book, "Mafia Cop," on a talk show and recognized him as the driver of the car she'd seen the day Jimmy went away.

Thanks to Greg B. Smith

Monday, March 20, 2006

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks to Jeff Harrell

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Police Accused of Mafia Ties Head to Trial

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

It's a crime story that begs for a best seller: A pair of oft-decorated NYPD detectives are accused of leading double lives, joining the mob's payroll. They allegedly go on a crime spree, leave a trail of dead bodies, and retire to a life as Las Vegas high rollers. But who could write such a bizarre tale?

There's plenty of talent right at the defense table. Ex-detective turned defendant Louis Eppolito wrote an autobiography titled "Mafia Cop" and even appeared in a mob movie. His attorney, Bruce Cutler, wrote "Closing Argument," covering a career that includes defending mob boss John Gotti. Cutler's co-counsel, Edward Hayes, has a memoir titled "Mouthpiece" that just hit stores, and he was a model for a character in a Tom Wolfe novel.

All this media know-how will assemble in court Monday when the so-called "Mafia Cops" - Eppolito and former partner Stephen Caracappa - arrive for opening statements in their racketeering and murder trial.

Expect a few plot twists. "I think there will be some surprises," Hayes predicted. "And I certainly have a few."

According to prosecutors, the two ex-detectives engaged in a cornucopia of criminal activity between 1979 and last year. Their indictment lists eight murders, allegedly at the bidding of Luchese family underboss Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso.

Authorities said Casso paid $75,000 for one of the hits, regularly paid the pair $4,000 a month, and referred to them as his "crystal ball."

In one case, the detectives allegedly provided Casso with information to locate a mobster suspected in a murder plot against Casso. The tip, however, led to another man with the same name who died in a hail of gunfire on Christmas Day 1986.

There are charges of racketeering, kidnapping, murder, obstruction of justice, and money laundering, and after the pair retired to Nevada they were distributing methamphetamine, according to the indictment. The list could have been longer; in January, prosecutors opted to drop two additional murder counts.

Eppolito, 57, and Caracappa, 64, are both insistent about their innocence. Caracappa went on "60 Minutes" in January to express his indignation.

"Totally ridiculous," he said of the charges. "It's ludicrous. Anybody that knows me knows I love the police department."

Caracappa spent 23 years with the NYPD, working his way up to detective first grade and helping to establish the department's nerve center for Mafia murder investigations before retiring in 1992.

Eppolito actually grew up in a mob family: His father, grandfather and an uncle were all members of the Gambino family. The contrast between his police work and his family life was detailed in his autobiography, "Mafia Cop: The Story of An Honest Cop Whose Family Was the Mob."

He joined the department in 1969, and also made detective first-grade. Before his 1990 retirement, Eppolito was known among fellow cops as a tough guy with plenty of street smarts. The partners settled in Las Vegas to enjoy their golden years. They were arrested on March 9, 2005, at a Las Vegas restaurant, and released on $5 million bail each.

Their trial promises to be one of the year's great legal spectacles.

The bombastic Cutler is best known for his work with Gotti. In one memorable opening statement, he dramatically spiked the indictment against Gotti in a courtroom trash can.

"Garbage!" he thundered.

Hayes, a former prosecutor, brings his impeccable attire and a glittering client list that includes Robert De Niro and Sean "Diddy" Combs. He was the model for take-no-prisoners defense attorney Tommy Killian in Tom Wolfe's "The Bonfire of the Vanities." Hayes said he's willing to let somebody else write about this case: "I already wrote a book."

If someone else takes up the challenge, there's always the chance of a movie - and Eppolito could play himself. He had a bit part in the Martin Scorsese mob classic "GoodFellas."

Thanks to Larry McShane

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Today's Mafia Upholds Nickname Traditions

In size, wealth and influence, today's Cosa Nostra doesn't match the Mafia of days gone by, Mob historians Jerry Capeci and Selwyn Raab say. However, there's one area in which modern Mafiosi are upholding a proud tradition of organized crime tradition nicknames.

Here are a few recent examples of Mafia nicknames and the inspiration for them, according to Mob historians and federal court records:

"Mikey Y." — for Michael Yannotti, a convicted associate of the Gambino family. Easier than saying his last name.

"Mikey Scars" — for Michael DiLeonardo, an acknowledged Gambino family member and government witness. From scars he received in a childhood accident.

"Vinny Gorgeous" — for Vincent Basciano, an acknowledged Bonanno family member. He owned a hair salon in the Bronx, N.Y.

"Richie from the Bronx" — for Richard Martino, a convicted Gambino family member. Apparently used to distinguish him from the many other Richies involved with the Mob.

"Good Lookin' Sal" — for Salvatore Vitale, an acknowledged Bonanno family member and government witness. Court records indicate he came up with the name himself and urged underlings to use it.

"Louie Bagels" — for Louis Daidone, a convicted member of the Lucchese family. He owned a bagel shop in Queens, N.Y.

"Gaspipe" — for Anthony Casso, an acknowledged Lucchese member and government witness. Referred to his tool of choice for his work as a Mob enforcer.

"Tony Ducks" — for Anthony Corallo, convicted member of the Lucchese family. He was known for his ability to duck subpoena servers.

"Phil Lucky" — for Philip Giaccone, a convicted Gambino family member. The name was unintentionally ironic; he was assassinated by a rival.

"Kid Blast" — for Albert Gallo, a convicted member of the Gambino family. He was known for enjoying parties.

"Nicky Eye Glasses" — for Nicholas Marangello, a convicted member of the Bonanno family. His glasses were very thick.

"Jackie Nose" — for John D'Amico, a convicted Gambino family member. Self-explanatory.

"The Chin" — for Vincent Gigante, a convicted member of the Genovese family. From "Cinzini," the nickname his mother gave him.

"Patty the Pig" — for Patrick DeFilippo, accused in a federal indictment of being a member of the Bonanno family. This was the pre-diet nickname for a Bronx man who used to weigh roughly 300 pounds.

"Patty from the Bronx" — DeFilippo's post-diet nickname.

Sources: Mob historians Jerry Capeci of Ganglandnews, Selwyn Raab, author of Five Families; defense lawyer Richard Levitt; federal court papers

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Bad Cops First, Then Mob Cops?

Friends of ours: Burton Kaplan, Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, Luchese Crime Family, Gambino Crime Family, Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano, John Gotti, Paul Castellano
Friends of mine: Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa

Before they were mob cops, they were bad cops. On top of eight murders, disgraced NYPD detectives Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa are accused of other sordid deeds while wearing their shields - including drug use and robbing stores for extra cash.

Caracappa, 64, boasted to one witness expected to testify at their pending trial that he dabbled with cocaine while working as an undercover narcotics cop, according to court papers filed by the Brooklyn U.S. Attorney's Office.

The ex-detective also admitted to Mafia turncoat Burton Kaplan - the go-between for the pair and Luchese family boss Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso - he and Eppolito used to hold up local delis for spending money in the late '70s, when the two started working together.

Prosecutors also unveiled allegations that when Eppolito was getting ready to hang up his badge, he asked Kaplan for cash so he could use it to bribe doctors into lying that he had a bad heart.

The court document, which prosecutors hope the judge presiding over the case will allow into evidence, details the numerous shady dealings the cops had with the Mafia.

The two were busted in Las Vegas last March on charges that they acted as assassins and moles for the Luchese crime family in the '80s and '90s.

Eppolito began taking bribes for leaking information to mobsters as early as 1979, the papers say, while Caracappa joined five years later, and the two were put on a $4,000-a-month retainer.

Some of the jobs prosecutors say the pair took on:
  • In 1982, Eppolito tried to get a $5,000 bribe from Gambino big-turned-rat Salvatore "Sammy Bull" Gravano to not investigate a murder Gravano was suspected of committing. Prosecutors did not say if he ever received the cash.
  • In 1990, Casso offered to pay them to assassinate Gravano to avenge the murder of Paul Castellano by John Gotti. The pair declined the contract.

The documents go on to describe a conversation Caracappa had with Kaplan. Caracappa said he would "keep an eye on Eppolito, because both feared Eppolito would cooperate against them," the court papers say.

"Caracappa was the real thing - a hero," said his lawyer, Ed Hayes. "I look forward to confronting these human monsters who say otherwise in court."

Friday, January 27, 2006

'Mafia Cops' prosecutors drop two murders

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

With less than a month before trial, Brooklyn federal prosecutors slimmed down the indictment against the "Mafia Cops" by dropping two murders that were part of the racketeering conspiracy charged against the ex-cops. A new indictment unsealed Thursday showed that prosecutors, seeking to simplify the trial, have decided to weed out the 1990 murder of union official James Bishop and the 1991 killing of one-time John Gotti crony Bartolomeo "Bobby" Boriello.

Former NYPD detectives Louis Eppolito, 57, and Stephen Caracappa, 64, have been charged with playing roles in as many as 10 homicides, including some while they were police officers, for members of the Luchese crime family. Some of the murders were believed to have been part of a scheme by former Luchese boss Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso to avenge a foiled assassination plot against him.

Bishop, an official of Painters Union Local 37, was killed because he was believed by the mob to have been an informant, said prosecutors. Investigators said Boriello was killed after Eppolito and Caracappa provided information to Casso that the Gambino soldier had threatened him. Eppolito and Caracappa, who have denied the charges against them, are slated to go to trial Feb. 21 before Judge Jack B. Weinstein in Brooklyn federal district court.

The Bishop and Boriello homicides were dropped from the case to streamline the prosecution witness list. Last year Weinstein expressed doubts that he would allow prosecutors Mitra Hormozi and Robert Henoch to call as many as 100 witnesses.

As many as 10 potential witnesses now don't have to be called, said the source, who added that prosecutors will try to introduce evidence of the two killings as uncharged crimes if Weinstein allows it.

"Our defense is that Steve Caracappa is a hero, not a criminal," defense attorney Edward Hayes said Thursday. Bruce Cutler, who is defending Eppolito, couldn't be reached for comment.

Thanks to Anthony DeStefano

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Murdered man's mother files $150M suit against city, 'Mafia Cops'

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

The mother of a Brooklyn man shot dead on Christmas Day 1986 in a case of the mob mistakenly killing the wrong man is suing the so-called "Mafia Cops" and the city for his murder. Pauline Pipitone, whose son Nicholas Guido, 26, was killed as he sat in a car after a holiday dinner, has charged in her lawsuit filed in Brooklyn federal court that former detectives Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa were part of the mob blunder that led to Guido's death.

Pipitone, who is executor of her son's estate, is suing for $150 million. She alleges that the NYPD failed to aggressively investigate allegations that Eppolito and Caracappa had been linked to criminal activity. Eppolito, 57, and Caracappa, 64, were indicted last year on charges they moonlighted as hit men and intelligence moles for the mob while they were cops. The indictment charged that as many as 10 murders are linked to their activities for former Luchese crime family acting boss Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso.

In the case of Guido, federal prosecutors have alleged that Eppolito and Caracappa funneled information to Casso, who was seeking revenge after being targeted in a failed assassination plot. Casso and his cohorts were seeking a reputed Gambino associate named "Nicholas Guido," 29, for being part of the the plot to kill the Luchese leader. Investigators have charged that Eppolito and Caracappa accessed NYPD databases to locate Guido for the mob, but erroneously came across Pipitone's son, a telephone company employee who had no criminal affiliations.

Pipitone's court complaint, which is seeking damages for Guido's wrongful death and deprivation of his constitutional rights, was filed last Thursday and appears to incorporate the allegations contained in the federal charges.

Eppolito and Caracappa, who are currently free under house arrest conditions on $5 million bail, have denied all the charges. They are scheduled to go to trial next month in Brooklyn federal court before Judge Jack B. Weinstein, although defense attorneys are seeking an adjournment.

Last week, federal officials in Las Vegas secured a tax evasion indictment against Eppolito and his wife, Francis. Investigators allege Eppolito didn't report income he made from various book and film deals.

"It was a terrible, terrible crime, but it isn't possible Caracappa could have committed it," said Edward Hayes, the lawyer representing Caracappa, about the Guido murder.

Hayes said the NYPD knew very early on the correct name of the "Guido" allegedly involved in the Casso assassination plot and that presumably that name was in the NYPD databases.

Defense attorney Bruce Cutler, who is defending Eppolito, couldn't be reached for comment Sunday.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Alleged Mafia Cop Speaks Out

Friends of ours: Lucchese Crime Family, Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, Eddie Lino, Nicholas Guido
Friends of mine" Stephen Caraccappa, Louis Eppolito, Burton Kaplan

Over the years, 60 Minutes has done its share of stories about police corruption, but none more outrageous than the one you’re about to hear: it's the story of two New York City police officers who stand accused of being hired killers for the mafia. Stephen Caraccappa and Louis Eppolito - two highly decorated former detectives - are set to go on trial next month, charged with the murders of 10 people, murders committed on the orders of a vicious mob boss. For the first time, one of those detectives, Stephen Caracappa, who is free on bail, talks to correspondent Ed Bradley and answers the allegations that he betrayed his badge and became a mafia hitman.

Caracappa says the allegations against him are ridiculous. "It's ludicrous. Anybody that knows me, knows I love the police department. I couldn't kill anybody. I shot a guy once on the job, and I still think about it. It bothers me," he says.

Why does he think police went after him? "I could come up with 100 different scenarios. But none of the scenarios make any sense to me, myself," says Caracappa. "All I know is that I am here now. And, I'm fighting for my life. I'm fighting for my reputation. I want to be vindicated of this. And, I'm mad. I'm angry."

For most of his 23-year career in the New York City Police Department, Stephen Caracappa was widely respected for his tenacity and savvy in cracking complicated cases. He rose from street patrolman to undercover narcotics officer, to first-grade detective, receiving numerous commendations along the way. He helped create the prestigious organized-crime homicide unit. His mission was to investigate the Lucchese crime family but instead, prosecutors say that in 1985 Caracappa and his former partner Louis Eppolito actually joined the family, and began working for its brutal boss, Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso.

Speaking to Ed Bradley in a 1998 prison interview, Casso said, "I have two detectives that work the major squad team for the New York Police Department." Asked what their names were, Casso told Bradley, "Lou Eppolito and Steve – he’s got a long last name, Ca... Capis..."

"Caracappa?" Bradley asked.

"Caracappa yeah," Casso replied. "Caracappa, whatever it is. I can’t say it all the time you know. Louis is a big guy who works out. Steve is a little small skinny guy."

Casso remains in the prison, serving a life sentence after admitting to 36 murders. He told Bradley about the extraordinary relationship he had with Detectives Caracappa and Eppolito. He also told his story to federal prosecutors, spelling out how, for a hefty salary, Caracappa and Eppolito would walk right up to Casso’s enemies, trick them into believing they were under arrest, and then deliver them to Casso to be executed.

That’s exactly what Casso told 60 Minutes the detectives did to a young hood named Jimmy Hydell. "They put him in the car. The kid thought they were taking him to the station house. But they took him to a garage. When they got to the garage, they laid him on the floor; they tied his feet, his handcuffs, put him in the trunk of the car," Casso said. "After that, I killed the kid. Myself, at that time I gave Louis and Steve, I think, $45,000 for delivering him to me."

"You gave them a bonus for delivering some one to you, you killed?" Bradley asked.

"Right. Well they wanted to kill for me. I didn’t even have to do it. They were gonna get him, kill him and do whatever I wanted to do with him," Casso replied in the 1998 interview.

"I don’t know Hydell, never met Hydell, says Caracappa. "I never met Anthony Casso. I don't know Anthony Casso."

What about Casso's claim that he had met Caracappa during the alleged delivery of Jimmy Hydell? "Mr. Bradley, I never met - I spoke to Anthony Casso. Never," Caracappa says.

Why would Casso lie? "To save himself, I would assume," says Caracappa. "But, why would he use me? I don't know."

Casso was, in fact, hoping to save himself, and reduce his sentence, when he first told his astonishing account to investigators 12 years ago. But prosecutors say they couldn’t charge Eppolito and Caracappa then because they couldn’t prove Casso's story. But now they have witnesses to many of the murders who corroborate what Casso had to say. Among them is Jimmy Hydell’s mother, who told investigators that the detectives came to her house looking for her son a few hours before he was abducted and killed, and a garage worker who told authorities where to dig up the body of another man Caracappa and Eppolito allegedly buried beneath a lot in Brooklyn.

The most brazen crime former Detectives Eppolito and Caracappa are accused of took place along New York City’s Belt Parkway. Allegedly in broad daylight, the two detectives pulled over a car driven by a mobster named Eddie Lino. They flashed their badges, and according to prosecutors, shot him dead.

"I gave them $75,000. They killed him, like, cowboy style. They pulled alongside of him. They shot him. They made him crash into the fence alongside the Belt Parkway on the service road. Right? Then Steve got out of the car, ran across the street and finished shooting him. Finished killing him in the car," Casso said during the 1998 interview.

It's a claim Caracappa denies. "I was a New York City detective for 23 years. We don't go around killing people. I did not kill Eddie Lino. I'm not a cowboy," he says.

Caracappa agrees that being on the police force doesn't automatically mean someone is a good guy and acknowledges that there have been members of the police force who have killed.

"So, that doesn't, you know, that's not a good answer for me to say, 'I didn't do it because I'm on the job,'" Bradley says.

"No, it's my answer. It's my answer because I have pride in myself, Mr. Bradley," Caracappa replies. "I wouldn't do something like that. Put my life in jeopardy. My family. Disgrace the badge. Disgrace the city. Take everything that I had worked for my whole life and throw it away? And, killed somebody in the street like a cowboy? That's not my style. It's not me."

"If you thought you wouldn't get caught?" Bradley asks.

"Get caught? Everybody gets caught. And, the person who did this is gonna get caught," says Caracappa.

Caracappa says he’s also speaking for his friend and co-defendant Louis Eppolito, who declined 60 Minutes' request for an interview.

"He’s not the monster the newspapers portrayed him to be," says Caracappa. "We’ll put up the evidence to show that we couldn’t have done these crimes. We just couldn’t have done 'em." But prosecutors say Stephen Caracappa left a paper trail - a key piece of evidence – proving he used his position to access police department computers andfunnel confidential information to Anthony Casso about the whereabouts of his enemies. One of them was a mobster named Nicholas Guido.

Investigators say Caracappa ran that name through his computer, mistakenly came up with an address for the wrong Nicholas Guido and a few weeks later, it led Casso to kill an innocent man. "I don’t remember running Nicholas Guido in the computer. But if they have a printout saying I did, I probably did. I ran countless names in the computer," says Caracappa.

So does Caracappa think Guido's murder was just a coincidence? "I don't know if it's a coincidence," he says. "But, if I did anything and I had to run a name, it's down on paper and it's documented why I did it…. And, who I did it for. And, I definitely didn't do it for any wise guy."

Stephen Caracappa’s lawyer, Ed Hayes, argues it would have been implausible for a first-grade detective like Caracappa to make such a rookie mistake. "If he had been looking for the right Nicky Guido, it would have been easy for him to find him," says Hayes. "It’s practically impossible to me to assume that he would have made this mistake. Because he's based his whole career on avoiding that kind of mistake, assuming you're going to kill people for money, you want to kill the right guy. Not the wrong guy. Otherwise you got to kill two people for the price of one, right?"

Maybe he was just sloppy. "Yeah. Maybe he made a mistake. Or maybe he didn't do it," says Hayes. "But in our system, you don't convict somebody on a maybe."

While that may be, prosecutors have also obtained information from a former top associate of Anthony “Gaspipe” Casso named Burton Kaplan, a convicted narcotics trafficker, who claims he personally paid detectives Caracappa and Eppolito when they committed murders for Casso. Ed Hayes says neither Casso nor Kaplan have any credibility.

"You have several individuals that even by criminal standards are revolting. And I think they saw this as an opportunity to make a plan, where they could get special treatment and get out of jail. And in fact, Burt Kaplan, who’s a drug dealer, a super large money launderer, has gotten out of jail because of making these accusations," says Hayes.

Stephen Caracappa says he knows he is being framed. And he says he has a good idea why he was implicated in the first place: his relationship with Louis Eppolito, who came from a family of mobsters, and wrote a book about it, titled "Mafia Cop: The Story of an Honest Cop Whose Family Was The Mob." In the book, Eppolito brags about socializing with mobsters and torturing suspects when he was on the job.

Does Caracappa fear jurors might know of the book and lump him in by guilt of association? "It could be. But if you knew Louie Eppolito and you spoke to Louie Eppolito, and you spent any time with him, you would see he couldn't do that. The guy is gentle," says Caracappa. But there’s a separate case that paints a dark picture of Louis Eppolito, involving Barry Gibbs, who spent 19 years in prison for a murder prosecutors now say he didn’t commit. He was freed four months ago, after a judge ruled that Det. Eppolito, who investigated the crime, intimidated the only eyewitness in the case into falsely testifying against Gibbs.

"He is a corrupt cop, and he is no good, and that’s the end of it," says Gibbs. "He ruined my life. He could have done that to anybody. It just so happens it was me. He could have done it you. He could have done it to anybody sitting here."

That eyewitness who testified against Gibbs was a former Marine, Peter Mitchell. In 1986, Mitchell saw a man dumping a woman’s body along a road in Brooklyn. He gave a description of the suspect to Eppolito, who was on the scene investigating the murder, and while his description bore no resemblance to Barry Gibbs, Mitchell says Eppolito threatened to hurt him and his family, if he refused to pick Gibbs out of a police lineup and point the finger at him in court.

Mitchell admits he knew he was lying on the stand and that his testimony would land Gibbs in jail. "Yeah, but you know what? I don't want this cop after me," says Mitchell.

How could he do that? "How could I do that? My family was on the line here. And I, if I had to do it, I'll do it again," says Mitchell.

Mitchell says that if he hadn't fingered Barry Gibbs he would be dead.

As for Barry Gibbs, he would still be in prison today if prosecutors hadn’t stumbled across his case file last spring during a search of Louis Eppolito’s home. Eppolito has not been charged with any criminal wrongdoing in this case, and claims he did nothing improper. The former detective made a brief statement to reporters recently about the 10 murder charges against him.

"I was a very highly decorated cop. I worked very hard my whole life and I just wanted people to know I’m not the person that they’re portraying me," he said.

Asked by a reporter if he was ever a bad cop, Eppolito replied, "Never in my life, never."

The question for the jury in this case, which goes to trial next month, is: did two decorated police officers cross the thin blue line and become hitmen for the mafia?

"You must know that if you get convicted on even one of these murder charges, you'll go down in history as one of the most corrupt cops in the history of the department," says Bradley. "That's true, Mr. Bradley, but I won't be convicted, because I didn't do this," replies Caracappa. "I won't, didn't do it. So I'm not gonna be convicted. I won't have that on my epitaph."

Courtesy of 60 Minutes

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

"Mafia" Cop Had a Mole

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

Just months before being exposed as an alleged Mafia hit man, one of the accused mob cops bragged about a high-ranking NYPD member slipping him unauthorized identification under the table, feds say. Disgraced ex-Detective Louis Eppolito was caught on a wiretap earlier this year describing how he was given credentials that state he is an active New York cop, despite living in Las Vegas and having retired more than a decade ago, according to a letter filed by prosecutors last week. Eppolito, 57, claimed he was given the card by a prominent city cop, whom the Brooklyn U.S. Attorney's Office did not identify.

Eppolito - who is accused of "routinely divulging sensitive law-enforcement information in exchange for money" - also boasted about how easily he could still access driver-registration records, thanks to his lasting ties with local cops. The comments were made public by the feds in a court document asking that the identities of jurors deciding Eppolito's fate be kept secret.

Eppolito and his alleged partner in crime, former Detective Stephen Caracappa, 63, are charged with handing over names of cooperating witnesses to the Luchese crime family - intelligence that was used to commit nine rubouts between 1986 and 1991. Caracappa is believed to have been the triggerman in one of the slayings.

Prosecutors say the two were on $4,000 retainer to jailed Luchese underboss Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso. "The defendants have demonstrated . . . a propensity to obstruct the fair working of the criminal justice system," prosecutor Robert Henoch wrote in his letter to Brooklyn federal court Judge Jack Weinstein.

"The history of selling information and using murder to obstruct criminal investigations is strong evidence for the need of an anonymous jury." If the judge decides their identities should not be revealed, the jurors would be escorted to and from the courthouse by federal marshals throughout the trial. "There's really no reason to have [an anonymous jury]," said Caracappa's lawyer, Ed Hayes, adding that he may try to block the government's request.

The trial is expected to get under way in February.

Thanks to Zach Haberman

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