The Chicago Syndicate: Edward Lino
The Mission Impossible Backpack

Showing posts with label Edward Lino. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Edward Lino. Show all posts

Monday, March 25, 2019

Anthony Comello, Suspect in Murder of Mafia Boss Frank Cali, Looking at Death Penalty from the Mob

It’s Mob Justice 101, and there are no appeals: The unsanctioned killing of a Mafia boss carries the death penalty.

The longstanding organized crime maxim is bad news for the life expectancy of Anthony Comello, the suspect jailed in the Staten Island shooting death of Gambino family head Frank (Frankie Boy) Cali.

 photo 190316-anthony-comello.jpg

“He must know his life is worth nothing,” said one-time Bonanno family associate Joe Barone. “He doesn’t have a chance in hell. It’s a matter of time. Even if the wiseguys don’t get him, he’ll get whacked by somebody looking to make a name.”

Comello, 24, remains in protective custody in a Jersey Shore jail, held without bail in the March 13 slaying of Cali outside his Staten Island home. Cali was shot 10 times in what initially appeared to be the first hit of a sitting New York mob boss since the execution of his long-ago Gambino predecessor Paul Castellano.

Veteran mob chronicler Selwyn Raab, author of the seminal Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires,” said retribution might not occur instantly. But Comello’s best-case scenario is a life spent looking over his shoulder. “Very simply, the old rules in the Mafia are you don’t let somebody get away with something like this," said Raab. “As long as the Mafia exists, he’s in danger. And it’s not just the Gambinos — anybody from any of the other families could go after him. If they get an opportunity to knock him off, they will."

Even the Cali family’s initial refusal to share security video with the NYPD was consistent with the mob’s approach to crime family business.

“That’s a big message: We’ll take care of this ourselves,” said Barone, who became an FBI informant.

The Castellano murder, orchestrated by his Gambino family successor John Gotti in December 1985, led to a trio of retaliatory killings sanctioned by Genovese family boss Vincent (The Chin) Gigante.

The Greenwich Village-based Gigante was outraged that Gotti ordered the hit without his approval. The murders were spread across five years and meant to culminate with the killing of Gotti, who instead died behind bars after his underlings were picked off.

  • Victim No. 1, dispatched by a Brooklyn car bomb, was Gambino underboss Frank DeCicco in April 1987.
  • Castellano shooter Eddie Lino became Victim No. 2 after a November 1990 traffic stop on the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn. Unfortunately for him, the officers involved were the infamous “Mafia Cops” — who killed the mob gunman for a $75,000 fee.
  • And finally, Victim No. 3: Bobby Borriello, the driver and bodyguard for the Dapper Don, murdered April 13, 1991, in the driveway of his Brooklyn home.

The mob doesn’t always get its man. Notorious informants like Gotti’s right-hand man Sammy (The Bull) Gravano and Henry Hill of “Goodfellas” fame bolted from the Witness Protection Program and survived for decades.

Gravano, whose testimony convicted Gotti and 36 other gangsters, walked out of an Arizona prison one year ago after serving nearly 20 years for overseeing an ecstasy ring. Hill died of natural causes in June 2012 at the age of 69, although not all are as fortunate.

Lucchese family associate Bruno Facciola was executed in August 1990, with a dead canary stuffed in his mouth as a sign that he was an informer — and a warning to other mobsters.

Thanks to Larry McShane.

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

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

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Mafia Cops, Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, to "Rot!" in Prision for Life

The murderous "Mafia Cops," sentenced to die behind bars for eight mob-ordered executions, received a venomous sendoff Friday from the son of one victim: "Rot!"

A packed Brooklyn federal courtroom erupted in cheers as Vincent Lino unloaded on Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa - the corrupt detective duo convicted of selling their badges to the Luchese crime family.

"These two lowlifes shot and killed my father," roared an angry Lino, whose mobbed-up dad, Edward, was killed for $65,000 in 1990. "May youse have a long life in prison," he said in a thick Brooklyn accent.

The portly Eppolito and his gaunt ex-partner sat quietly at the defense table for the final installment of their sordid career as cops-turned-contract-killers.

They earned $4,000 a month on the payroll of Luchese underboss Anthony (Gaspipe) Casso from 1986 to 1990 to orchestrate murders and pass along confidential police information, prosecutors said.

The daughter of victim Israel Greenwald, a jeweler kidnapped and killed by the pair, addressed her father as she stood before his murderers. "This evil crime robbed us of a lifetime of memories of you," said an emotional Yael Perlman, her eyes closed tight. "Daddy, I can't even bring myself to imagine the anguish you felt."

Eppolito - sporting a sprawling white mustache - turned red as Perlman spoke, while a scowling, unshaven Caracappa betrayed no reaction.

Louis Eppolitio and Stephen Caracappa - 'The Mafia Cops'

Eppolito, the son of a mobster, was sentenced to life plus 100 years; Caracappa received life plus 80 years. Each was fined more than $4 million.

Both declared their innocence despite a Brooklyn jury's resounding April 2006 verdict that established the pair as the most corrupt cops in NYPD history.

"I am innocent of all these charges," said the 67-year-old Caracappa. "And you'll never take away my will to prove how innocent I am."

Eppolito, 60, apologized to the families of the dead, but denied any role in killing them.

"The federal government can take my life," Eppolito said. "I'm a man. They can't take my soul. They can't take my pride. They can't take my dignity.

"I was a hardworking cop. I never hurt anybody. I never kidnapped anybody. ... I never did any of this."

Although the duo was jailed after their convictions, the sentencing was delayed. Brooklyn Federal Judge Jack Weinstein overturned the convictions on a technicality in 2006, but was reversed by an appeals court last September.

Weinstein handed down the lengthy terms after prosecutor Mitra Hormozi said the pair's "heinous offense" merited the life sentences.

Thanks to John Marzulli

Friday, August 25, 2006

Gotti Said To Break Mafia Vow During Meeting With Prosecutors

Friends of ours: John "Junior" Gotti, John "Dapper Don" Gotti, Daniel Marino, John "Johnny G" Gammarano, Gambino Crime Family, Salvatore "Sammy Bull" Gravano Michael "Mikey Scars" DiLeonardo, Genovese Crime Family, Luchese Crime Family, Paul Castellano, Peter Gotti, Frank DeCicco, Bartholemew "Bobby" Borriello, Edward Lino
Friends of mine: Joseph Watts

Mob prince John "Junior" Gotti broke his Mafia vow of omerta last year and used a pre-trial sitdown with federal prosecutors as an opportunity to settle some old scores with two of his father's former top lieutenants, Gang Land has learned.

Gotti has acknowledged the January 2005 secret session with the feds, but has maintained it was merely an effort to convince the feds of his innocence concerning the charges in the racketeering indictment.

He said he indignantly stomped out once he realized that prosecutors were seeking his cooperation. In a June 27 interview with the Daily News, he insisted he would never tell on his former crime cohorts, underscoring his own attitude about informing by quoting his late father's extreme views on the subject. "I could have robbed a church but I wouldn't admit to it if I had a steeple sticking out of my" rear end, Gotti said the Dapper Don had told him.

However, several sources confirmed to Gang Land that, in a failed bid to persuade prosecutors to drop their case against him, Gotti spilled old secrets about two "made men" and a Gambino crime family associate — all underlings of the elder John Gotti.

Junior fingered capo Daniel Marino, soldier John "Johnny G" Gammarano, and longtime associate Joseph Watts for numerous crimes that took place before 1999, when Junior Gotti has insisted he walked away from the Mafia life, sources said.

Gotti also allegedly gave the feds information about a crooked Queens cop who enabled him to beat one case during the 1980s, and a corrupt politician who was part of a land-grab scheme during the same time frame, sources said. Both men are deceased.

Despite Gotti's claims of retirement and his ultimate decision not to cooperate, any informant activity by the mob scion would be viewed as an abomination within his former realm, and equate him with the defectors who have testified against him and his late father. "If it's true, he's a rat, just like Sammy and Scars," an underworld source said, referring to the two major Gambino family defectors, former underboss Salvatore "Sammy Bull" Gravano and onetime capo Michael "Mikey Scars" DiLeonardo.

The disclosure about Gotti's discussions comes as his third trial stemming from the kidnap-shooting of Curtis Sliwa is under way in Manhattan Federal Court.The trial judge, Shira Scheindlin, has issued a gag order in the case and prosecutors and defense lawyers are prohibited from discussing it.

Gang Land's sources declined to discuss specifics that Junior gave the feds, but said he focused primarily on Marino, 65, a powerful family capo and longtime thorn in the side of the Dapper Don, and Watts, 64, once viewed as a possible FBI informer by the Junior Don and his cohorts. While informing about Marino, Gotti, almost as an afterthought, also related alleged criminal activity by Gammarano, 65, a soldier in Marino's crew, sources said.

Marino, who served six years behind bars for a murder conspiracy ordered by the elder Gotti, was released in 2000. Watts, who spent 10 years in prison for his involvement in the same plot and a separate tax case, was released from prison in May. Johnny G, who served three years for a labor racketeering scam in Brooklyn and a Joker Poker gambling machine scheme in New Orleans, has been back in action since 2002.

Gotti has had it out for Marino and Watts for years, a source said. "He's talked about killing them both," the source said. The Gotti faction has long believed that Marino was poised to take over the crime family in the early 1990s as part of a retaliation plot by the Genovese and Luchese families for the unsanctioned 1985 killing of Gambino boss Paul Castellano.

Even after Marino was incarcerated during the late 1990s, Junior, Mikey Scars, Peter Gotti, and other supporters of the then-jailed Dapper Don debated whether to kill Marino, according to FBI documents. The discussions revolved around suspicions that Marino may have had a role in the murders of Frank DeCicco, Bartholemew "Bobby" Borriello, and Edward Lino — all key allies of the elder Gotti — between 1986 and 1991.

In the early 1990s, according to testimony at Junior's second trial, Gotti had two gunmen waiting in the closet of a Brooklyn apartment ready to kill Marino and Johnny G and dispose of their remains in body bags after Junior suspected they had kept $400,000 in annual construction industry extortion payments that should have been forwarded to him. The plot was thwarted, probably intentionally, by Watts.

Watts, who would become the focus of rubout talk a few years later, had been instructed to bring Marino and Johnny G to a meeting that would end with their execution. But when Watts and the targeted mobsters arrived in a stretch limo along with another mobster and a driver, Junior aborted the plan, according to the testimony.

In 1994 and 1995, according to court documents, Junior discussed killing Watts when "rumors began to spread within the Gambino family that Watts might be cooperating" and Gotti feared that Watts and then-superstar witness Sammy Bull would be a "deadly combination" that would threaten the "survival of the Gottis and the Gambino family."

The nasty talk about Watts fizzled out after he pleaded guilty and went to prison. But Junior has long suspected that Watts, who referred to Junior as "Boss" whenever they met, had worn a wire against him, according to FBI documents. And, during his session with the feds, "Junior was quick to point a finger at him," a source said. Sources said Gotti did implicate himself, and a few longtime friends, in several crimes, but they took place too long ago to be used in an indictment.

Gotti denied any role in a 23-year-old murder, a crime for which there is no statute of limitations, sources said. He insisted that he did not kill Danny Silva, a 24-year-old Queens man who died from a knife wound during a wild melee in an Ozone Park bar when Junior was a rowdy and arrogant 19-year-old wannabe wiseguy. "He said he was there, but he said he had nothing to do with the stabbing," a source said.

As Gang Land reported in our first New York Sun column four years ago, a formerly reluctant witness has told authorities that he "personally saw Junior stab Danny Silva" and the police and FBI reopened the case with an eye toward charging Gotti with Silva's murder.

Thanks to Jerry Capeci of Gangland News

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, 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

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.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

In Mob Trial, a Spotlight on a Rogue

Friends of ours: Edward Lino, Gambino Crime Family
Friends of mine: Louis Eppolito, Stephen Caracappa

Steven Corso — tax cheat, thief, disgraced accountant — spent a good part of the week telling jurors at the racketeering trial of two retired New York detectives, Louis J. Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, how the two men moved to Las Vegas in the early 1990's and committed crimes.

He testified that last year they helped arrange a two-minute, 19-second drug deal, in which Mr. Eppolito's son was secretly recorded selling an ounce of methamphetamine for $900. He said that a few weeks later, Mr. Eppolito, who acted in films and wrote scripts after leaving the police force, took $14,000 for a screenplay he was writing, even though he knew it had come from a mob-connected drug deal.

Eventually, of course, the witness, with his pomaded hair and designer suits, was forced to talk about his own high crimes and misdemeanors. Under cross-examination, he admitted having first approached Mr. Eppolito pretending to be interested in his daughter and acknowledged stealing $5,329,566 from his former firm, spending it on a "lifestyle" of "girlfriends, jewelry and going out."

Mr. Corso, 50, is the government's chief witness in the Las Vegas portion of the trial, a transcontinental case in which the two defendants have been charged with taking part in at least eight murders for the Brooklyn mob.

He traveled through Las Vegas with a miniature recorder, and the tapes he made have allowed the government to argue that the two defendants were engaged in a criminal conspiracy stretching from murder in the 1980's to a drug deal last year.

Bruce Cutler, Mr. Eppolito's lawyer, painted Mr. Corso as a debauched and profligate government pawn: a man, he said, who left $600,000 in "unpaid lines of credit at various and sundry casinos." Ever one for eloquent aggression, Mr. Cutler impugned his conduct (and oddly enough, with no apparent reason, his patriotism, too) then lambasted him for having stooped to recording Mr. Eppolito, recovering after heart surgery in a hospital room.

Rae Koshetz, Mr. Caracappa's lawyer, needled Mr. Corso for having said the phrase "with me" was gangland slang, as in, "He's with me."

In what was probably the only Mafia-logical interpretation of Scripture ever offered in a court, Ms. Koshetz read aloud from the 23rd Psalm to prove there was nothing inherently sinister about "with me."

"'Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,'" she read, "'I fear no evil for you are" —pause — "with me.' " She then asked Mr. Corso. "Surely, you don't think the author of the 23rd Psalm was talking about a drug deal, do you, sir?"

Speaking of authors, one of the half-dozen or so who have hitched their wagons to the case is Jane McCormick, former president of a Las Vegas cleaning service and a onetime call girl whose most famous customer was, in her words, "Frank Sinatra when he wasn't married."

Ms. McCormick, 64, wrote "The Confidence Game," her life story — a tale of child molestation, rape, abortion, "favors for men" and silicone injections that led, she said, to "gangrene" in her breasts.

Four years ago, hoping to make the leap to Hollywood, she paid Mr. Eppolito $45,000 to turn her book into a screenplay — a screenplay, she has sued him for having failed to write.

Throughout the trial, Ms. McCormick has installed herself in the pews of court, hoping the publicity will help sell her book. She is also a figure of writerly retribution: the author as avenging angel. "He made me believe he was the hotshot of the movie world," she said. "But he didn't have what it took."

Little physical evidence has been introduced so far, though on Thursday, prosecutors presented what could become a crucial exhibit. It was a watch — specifically a Pulsar watch with a black, square face found near the curb of the Belt Parkway on Nov. 6, 1990. That was the date and place that Edward Lino, a Gambino family captain, was killed in his Mercedes-Benz — by the two ex-detectives, prosecutors say.

The watch was discovered within 100 feet of Mr. Lino's car by Detective Mary Dugan of the New York Police Department's crime scene unit. Detective Dugan, now retired, testified that she had found the watch on the night of Mr. Lino's death after finding his body slumped behind the wheel of the car.

Prosecutors plan to argue in closing remarks that the watch belonged to Mr. Caracappa.

As proof of just how exhaustive their case has been so far, they showed a photograph on Tuesday from a 1989 party celebrating the promotion of a former colleague of Mr. Caracappa.

The photograph shows Mr. Caracappa in his shirtsleeves and a tie, a cigarette tucked Jean-Paul Belmondo-style at his lip. On his wrist is a watch, with a black square face.

Thanks to Alan Feuer

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, 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, March 03, 1992

Sammy the Bull Testifes That John Gotti Ordered the Slaying of Gambino Crime Boss Paul Castellano

Reputed mob boss John Gotti ordered the slaying of Paul Castellano out of fear that he faced assassination himself, Gotti's onetime underboss said during his first day of testimony yesterday in a hushed and heavily guarded courtroom.

There were "quite a few reasons" why Gotti wanted the head of the Gambino crime family killed, Salvatore Gravano said in a low and gravelly voice. But, he testified, Gotti's chief motive was self-preservation.

Gravano described the 10 months during which, he, Gotti and others planned Castellano's execution. He said the final plan came shortly after the death of cancer-striken Aniello Dellacroce, the Gambino family's underboss and Gotti's mentor.

"Paul showed total disrespect and didn't go to the funeral," Gravano told the jury. "We were wondering if and when . . . Paul might make a move - if he might strike," Gravano testified. "We wondered if he might shoot John and Angelo" Ruggiero, a close Gotti associate. "Paul Castellano, after Neil [Dellacroce] died, said he was going to wreck John's crew," said Gravano. He said Castellano was angry that members of Gotti's crew had violated a family rule - enforceable by death - against drug dealing.

Gravano, the highest-level mob informant ever to testify against Gotti, was calm and composed as he took the stand under a deal to reduce his prison sentence to 20 years. Indicted along with Gotti and co-defendant Frank Locascio, he faced life in prison without parole if convicted at trial. Gravano occasionally glanced at Gotti, and once during the testimony pointed out Gotti and Locascio as being the boss and consigliere of the crime family.

Under questioning by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Gleeson, Gravano said others beside Gotti were dissatisfied with Castellano.

"At the time, there were a lot of conversations about Paul. Nobody was too happy with him . . . He was selling out the family for his own basic businesses," said Gravano, explaining that Castellano formed several business partnerships with leaders of the Genovese crime family.

Gravano said Gotti and his followers also were upset that Castellano had allowed another crime family to kill a Gambino crime captain in Connecticut. "You just don't let another family kill a captain in your family," Gravano testified. "That's against the rules."

Gravano said Gotti discussed two other possible plans for killing Castellano that were rejected. In one plan, Castellano was to have been shot at his home on Staten Island. But that plan was dropped because "there was a lot of FBI surveillance at his house," Gravano said.

Another rejected plan called for an old-time mobster to walk into a diner where Castellano and his driver, Thomas Bilotti, frequently went before meeting with Castellano's lawyer, James LaRossa. "The old man was known by Paul and would be able to walk in and shoot him," Gravano said.

Gravano, 46, said the final planning session for Castellano's murder came the night before Castellano and Bilotti were shot to death outside Sparks Steak House on East 46th Street on Dec. 16, 1985.

Frank DeCicco, a Castellano loyalist, had informed Gotti and Gravano that he would be meeting Castellano and Bilotti for dinner at Sparks on Dec. 16, Gravano testified. Also among those attending the dinner, said Gravano, would be Thomas Gambino, son of the late Carlo Gambino, for whom the Gambino family is named.

The night before, at a meeting Gotti arranged, Gotti, Gravano and Ruggiero sat down with eight other mob figures at Gravano's drywall construction firm in Brooklyn and outlined a plan to kill two men whose names were not revealed. "We didn't tell them who was going to be hit," Gravano said. "We just said he had to be done."

Gravano said it was decided that the shooters would be John Carneglia, Edward Lino, Salvatore Scala and Vinny Artuso, all members of the Gambino crime family.. The others would serve as backups who would be stationed at various locations.

The next afternoon, the participants - armed with guns and walkie-talkies - met Gotti and Gravano in a small park on the Lower East Side and were told the names of their targets for the first time. "We told them exactly who was going, and that it had to be done," Gravano testified.

The designated shooters were stationed in front of Sparks, Gravano said, and four backup shooters were posted around the block. He said the backups included Anthony Rampino, a convicted Gambino soldier, and Ruggiero.

"Me and John got in the car and went to the Third Avenue side of East 46th," Gravano testified. "I was a backup shooter. If they [Castellano and Bilotti] got away, we would be ready."

At that point in his testimony, U.S. District Court Judge I. Leo Glasser closed the session for the day and ordered Gravano's examination to continue today.

Gravano, known on the street as Sammy the Bull, spent much of his two hours on the witness stand discussing his crime career, which he said began shortly after he dropped out of school at the age of 16. From 1961 to 1964, "I worked on and off. I committed armed robberies, burglaries."

He served in the Army between 1964 and 1966. After his discharge, he said he returned to Brooklyn. "I went back to my life of crime," he said.

Gleeson asked him how many murders he was admitting."Nineteen," Gravano said.

Gravano said he was something of an expert killer. Asked by Gleeson if there was a common expression used by the Gambino family for murder, Gravano said without emotion: "To do a piece of work - to whack someone out."

He described his 1976 initiation into the Gambino crime family in the presence of Castellano. He said during the ceremony, his trigger finger was pricked with a pin, a drop of blood was placed on the picture of a saint and the picture was set afire.

He then repeated his oath of silence: "If I divulge any secrets of this organization my soul should burn like this saint."

Gravano testified that officials of the Luchese, Colombo and Bonanno crime families were notified of the plan to kill Castellano. "They were behind the killing," he said. New York's fifth crime organization, the Genovese family, was not consulted. "We didn't trust them because Paul Castellano was in partners with them," Gravano said.

Thanks to Pete Bowles


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