The Chicago Syndicate: Luccheses
The Mission Impossible Backpack

Showing posts with label Luccheses. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Luccheses. Show all posts

Monday, September 11, 2006

Megale Gets Capone Prison Sentence

The sole remaining defendant, Gambino Family associate Louis Natrella

Mob underboss Anthony "The Genius" Megale, a/k/a “Mac,” a/k/a “Machiavelli,” was sentenced Friday in Manhattan federal court to 11 years imprisonment, following his conviction on racketeering and extortion charges. Ironically, he received the same sentence as the legendary Chicago mobster Al "Scarface" Capone.

United States District judge also imposed a term of three years’ supervised release, a fine of $30,000, and ordered Megale to forfeit $100,000, representing the proceeds of his criminal activity.

Megale's sentencing followed his guilty plea on March 30, 2006, to four counts of an Indictment unsealed last year. It charged 32 defendants, most of whom are members or associates of the Gambino Organized Crime Family of La Cosa Nostra, with wide-ranging racketeering crimes and other offenses spanning more than a decade, including violent assault, extortion of various individuals and businesses, loansharking, union embezzlement, illegal gambling, trafficking in stolen property and counterfeit goods, and mail fraud.

As part of his guilty plea, Megale admitted participating in a racketeering enterprise and extorting the owners of a restaurant in Greenwich, Connecticut, a New Jersey trucking company, and a construction company in Westchester County.

As stated in the Indictment, from approximately 2002 until the time of his arrest in late 2004, Megale was the Acting Underboss of the Gambino Organized Crime Family. Megale assumed this position when official Underboss Arnold Squitieri , a codefendant, was elevated from Underboss to Acting Boss. The Gambino Crime Family was once headed by John "Teflon Don" Gotti and Paul Castelano, whom many believe was assassinated by order of Gotti.

The charges leading to Megale's conviction were the result of an almost three-year long investigation that included obtaining court authorization to intercept conversations among high-ranking members of the Gambino Crime Family at several locations in the Bronx and Westchester County, including at the United Hebrew Geriatrics Home, located in New Rochelle, New York. An undercover FBI agent also infiltrated the Gambino Family in the course of the investigation.

All but one of the defendants charged in this case have pleaded guilty or, in the case of Gambino Family Capo Gregory DePalma, been convicted at trial. In the past two weeks, Gambino Family Capo Thomas Cacciopoli, a/k/a “Tommy Sneakers,” Luchese Organized Crime Family Captain John Capra, a/k/a “Johnny Hooks,” and Genovese Organized Crime Family Soldier Pasquale DeLuca, a/k/a “Scop,” have all pleaded guilty in this case.

The sole remaining defendant, Gambino Family associate Louis Natrella, is scheduled to go to trial on September 11, 2006.

Anthony Megale, who was known as "The Genius," began his criminal activity in Stamford, Connecticut. In August 2001, it is believed that Megale became a Capo (Captain) within the Gambino Family and was made acting underboss after Peter Gotti -- son of John Gotti --was arrested on racketeering charges.

During August 2002, a Fairfield County nightclub owner, met with Megale after the nightclub owner had been approached by members and associates of the Gambino Family and another organized crime family who sought to extort payments from him, his associates, and his businesses.

Megale represented to the nightclub owner that he was a top Gambino Family member, that he had met with leadership of the rival organized crime family, and that he had prevented members and associates of the rival family from extorting payments from him.

Then Megale told the nightclub owner that he would have to pay for “protection” in order to ensure the safety of himself, his associates, his property and his businesses. Megale demanded payment of $2000 every month plus an annual Christmas bonus as tribute money.

According to the FBI, for almost two years the nightclub owner was forced to pay protection money to Megale. It is further alleged that Megale threatened the nightclub owner with violence, destruction of property and disruption of his business if and when Megale didn't receive his protection money from the owner.

Thanks to Jim Kouri

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Snitch from "Mafia Cops" Case May Have Sentenced Reduced

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

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

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

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

Thanks to Staten Island Advance

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Mafia Cops Denied Bail

Friends of ours: Lucchese Crime Family
Friends of mine: Louis Eppolito, Stephen Caracappa

Less than a month after he acquitted them of one of the most scandalous murder conspiracies in New York history, a federal judge denied bail today to the two retired detectives in the Mafia Cops case on a much less solemn charge: a plot to distribute less than one ounce of methamphetamine.

Mafia CopsThe drug charge was one of only two counts left from the original indictment of the men, Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, who were found guilty on April 6 of taking part in at least eight murders for the Luchese family of the mob. Twelve weeks later, the verdict was reversed when the judge in the case, Jack B. Weinstein, ruled that the statute of limitations — five years for conspiracy charges — had run out.

Today, after he denied the two men bail, Judge Weinstein took them to task, as he did in his order of acquittal, calling them “dangerous criminals with no degree of credibility” and saying they had been “publicly shamed” at the very trial he had upended by tossing their convictions out. He said the drug charge — an alleged deal hatched over dinner in Las Vegas — was a “serious” charge and sternly ordered the federal marshals to haul the men off to jail.

Mr. Eppolito and Mr. Caracappa now inhabit a strange piece of legal real estate, one which might be labeled “guilty but acquitted.” After all both judge and jury in the case have found that there was ample — even overwhelming — evidence that they committed some of the worst official crimes since 1912, when a police lieutenant, Charles Becker, was charged with the murder of a two-bit gambler known as Beansie Rosenthal. Despite such evidence, the murder charges were effectively dismissed.

Although the government has said it will appeal Judge Weinstein’s order of acquittal, the judge himself said today that his decision to deny bail had nothing to do with the appellate case and was solely based on the fact the two men still have charges pending against them: the drug count (for both) and a count of money-laundering (for Mr. Eppolito alone). The government has said it will try the two men on the drug charge in Federal District Court in Brooklyn, though only after the broader appeal has been decided.

In the meantime, Mr. Eppolito (garrulous and portly) and Mr. Caracappa (austere and hatchet-thin) will return to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Sunnyside, Brooklyn, where they have been sharing a cell since their convictions. Daniel Nobel, Mr. Caracappa’s lawyer, asked Judge Weinstein if his client might be moved to a different jail, later saying, “I dare say most marriages would founder under similar circumstances.”

There were many reasons why Judge Weinstein could have granted bail — he did so before the trial began. At that point, the two men faced a damaging array of murder charges — which, by today, had been dismissed. Moreover, at the first bail hearing last July, the government itself had said that there was no “presumption” that the two detectives should be held on the methamphetamine charge, even though that charge was the very rationale Judge Weinstein offered today in denying bail.

Mr. Nobel and Joseph Bondy, Mr. Eppolito’s lawyer, said they were likely to appeal the judge’s ruling to a higher court. Mr. Bondy, in particular, said he thought Judge Weinstein might have kept the men in jail as way to offset their acquittals on what some saw as a technicality in the case. “I think there may have been a balancing aspect to the judge’s decision,” he said. “Perhaps from the judge’s point of view letting them go may have been inconsistent with his role pending a retrial.”

One of the arguments the prosecution raised against bail today was a concern that, if the men were freed, they might be tempted to threaten witnesses in the case. After all, having sat through an entire trial, they now know every witness by name.

In court papers filed last week, the prosecution mentioned one witness in particular — Steven Corso, a disgraced accountant, who told the court at trial that, in February 2005, Mr. Eppolito and Mr. Caracappa had agreed to help him find some methamphetamine for some “Hollywood punks” who were coming to Las Vegas. “With their liberty at stake, the defendants have a tremendous incentive to attempt to harm Corso to prevent him from testifying against them,” the papers said. Nonetheless, Mr. Corso himself sounded only marginally worried when he called The New York Times last month to discuss the outcome of the trial. Although he said there were times that “he was looking out for bullets,” his main concern seemed to be the paper’s coverage — of himself.

Thanks to Alan Feuer

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks to Larry McShane

Thursday, June 08, 2006

"Mafia Cops" to Face Life Term

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 05, 2006

Mafia Cops Face Life in Prison at Sentencing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks to Larry McShane

Kin of "Mafia Cops" Victims Sue NYPD

Friends of ours: Luchesse Crime Family
Friends of mine: Louis Eppolito, Stephen Caracappa

The families of two Long Island garbage carters - rubbed out by the mob 17 years ago - are suing the NYPD, charging the department failed to "control" two rogue cops.

The widows of Robert Kubecka and Donald Barstow charged the police with "failure to supervise, discipline or otherwise control" detectives Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa while they were working for the Luchese crime family, and allegedly passed on information about the victims.

Kubecka, who ran a sanitation business with brother-in-law Barstow, refused to go along with crooked carters.

Thanks to Dareh Gregorian

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Book Club: Five Families: The Rise, Fall and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires

Friends of ours: Gambino Crime Family, Bonanno Crime Family, Colombo Crime Family, Lucchese Crime Family, Genovese Crime Family. John "Dapper Don" Gotti, Vincente "The Chin" Gigante, Charles "Lucky" Luciano

Selwyn Raab recently met with Gotham Gazette's Reading NYC Book Club to discuss his book Five Families: The Rise, Fall and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires, a history of the Mafia from its origins in Sicily to the present day. The following is an edited transcript of the event.

GOTHAM GAZETTE: Mr. Raab, your book focuses largely on the fall of the New York crime families, but the title includes the phrase "resurgence." What's going on with the Mafia in New York City right now?

SELWYN RAAB: Up until 9/11, there had been a 20-year long, concentrated attack against the Mafia, based on the Racketeer Influence Corruptions Act, popularly known as RICO. What was important about RICO was that for the first time it gave prosecutors an effective tool to go after the big shots in organized crime. At the attack's peak, there were 200 people working full time on just investigating the five Mafia families in New York -- the Gambino, the Bonano, the Colombo, the Lucchese, and the Genovese. The FBI had a specific squad following each family, and were able to bust John Gotti, Vincente "The Chin" Gigante, and other bosses, even though they didn't pull a trigger or shake anyone down themselves.

[This prosecution was coupled with a] concentrated effort to knock the Mafia out of some industries. Waste collection and construction were two immense moneymakers for them, and they've been hurt in both industries, especially commercial garbage collection. There is now some oversight by city agencies, licensing etc. The Mafia has been severely wounded in some of these big industries – but not mortally.

As soon as 9/11 occurred, terrorism justifiably became a prime concern and objective for the FBI and most police departments, including New York's. This created a reprieve – suddenly you had this tremendous diminution of people investigating the mob.

Today, the Mafia is still making money in gambling and loan sharking. The penalties for these crimes are very small, nobody goes away for a long time, and bosses are never brought up on charges. Still, this is terrific seed money to keep them going.

The Mafia is still very big on Wall Street, counterfeit credit cards, and phone scams. But a lot of the most recent action has been in the suburbs, where the theory is the local police departments don't have the expertise to stop them.


GOTHAM GAZETTE: Is there a fundamental difference between the Mafia and other types of organized crime?

SELWYN RAAB: We've always had organized crime groups – you had Irish and German gangs on the Bowery, Jewish bootleggers, the Italians, and so on. To oversimplify, prohibition changed all these gangs from street thugs to executives. The money was so big that they could expand, and when prohibition ended, they had big organizations to go into different things like labor racketeering.

But the Italians had a business genius named Charles "Lucky" Luciano. Luciano saw the handwriting on the wall – prohibition was going to end, and what were gangs going to do for loot? He also saw the lack of a central organization. Luciano had a major convention [of Italian gangs] in Chicago in 1931, and said we can't have fights among ourselves anymore, because it's bad for business. He turned the Italian gangs into a semi-military organization based on what had been going on in Sicily, where each family had a boss, underboss, consigliere, and soldiers.

If you knocked out the leaders of the Jewish or Irish gangs, they dissolved, because there was no military setup. But Luciano set up the Mafia so that the individual is secondary to the organization; the theory was that the organization had to survive at any cost. If the boss died or was arrested, the organization replaced him, and he set up another hierarchy.

To stop disputes between families, Luciano created something called the Commission comprised of representatives from each of the five New York families. Immediately, they had more power than anyone else in the country.

Luciano also urged the Mafiosi to diversify their activities. Instead of having just gambling or loan sharking as other gangs did, they went into labor racketeering. They were a mirror image of capitalism: whatever works.

That distinction still exists today. The Mafia has such a lot going for it. The Latin Americans – Columbians and Mexicans – are into one thing: narcotics. They don't have the know-how to do these other kinds of crimes. Same thing with the Asian gangs, the Chinese. They may be involved in smuggling immigrants, or do shake down rackets on stores or restaurants in Chinatown and Queens. But they're not involved in other things.


GOTHAM GAZETTE: Why did New York City's Mafia families have such a disproportionate amount of power within the nationwide Mafia right from the beginning?

SELWYN RAAB: We can thank Benito Mussolini partly for this. The Mafia had always been very strong since it started out in Sicily in the 18th century, where people once thought of them as liberators because they fought against the foreign invaders, protecting the small farmers, peasants, and businessmen. They developed into a tyrannical organization, and they grew very powerful both politically and financially. When Benito Mussolini came into power, he saw them as a threat and started a crackdown. He rounded people up and put them in cages, sent them away for life, or killed them.

Because of this, a lot of the young Mafiosi in the 1920s emigrated to the United States, and the major place they went was New York City. They liked New York. It was very profitable. There was a big Italian American population, bigger than anywhere else. They settled into New York because they were welcomed here.

The curse of New York is that there are still five powerful Mafia families here. In the rest of the country it wasn't that hard to combat the Mafia – you just had to knock off one family and there would be no one around to fill their shoes. Here, if there is a devastating blow to one family, that vacuum can be filled by one of the others. They know if it's a good opportunity, and they'll take advantage of it.

PHILIP ANGELL: In New York City organized crime families were involved in a lot of very public rackets – the trash business, the construction business, the ready-mix concrete business. These were pretty open secrets for a long time. Do you have any sense of why this was tolerated by the political, financial, and law enforcement establishment?

SELWYN RAAB: Well, one major reason was that J. Edgar Hoover didn't want the FBI to do anything with the mob. They didn't do anything until after his death in 1972.

I started as a reporter in New York in the 1960s on the education beat. I was working for a year when there was a big scandal: schools were falling apart. I was assigned to the story and found so many connections. There were secret Mafia partners to all these construction firms that were allowing ceilings to collapse, and building shoddy buildings. There was a big investigation, and eventually the city got rid of some of the people who worked for the Board of Education and banned some of the contractors. But they never went after the Mafia.

So I started asking around: Why don't you do anything about the Mafia? "It's too hard," I was told. But the real reason was that the Mafia was paying off the politicians and the judges. Every stone you turned up in this town had to do with the Mafia. Garbage, the fish market, you name it.

Also, when you talked to mayors off the record they'd say: 'everything runs smoothly now. If you fool around with the construction industry, there will be a strike. If you do anything about trying to regulate the garbage industry, they won't pick up the garbage. If you try to do anything about the fish market, restaurants won't get any fish. Leave well enough alone. They're not bothering anybody.'

GOTHAM GAZETTE: Can you point to any industries that the Mafia ruined or ran out of town?

SELWYN RAAB: I used to speak to people in the garment center, and they said you had a choice: either you get protection from the mob, or you sign up with the union and pay the union dues. The union will let you be non-union, but you have to be hooked up with some family. In fact, the corrupt unions were getting part of the payoffs.

There were mob families running all the trucking in the garment center – the Colombos and the Luccheses. You couldn't be an independent trucker and go into the garment center. You'd have flat tires, and your drivers would be beaten up. These weren't the only reasons – there were runaway industries for cheaper labor elsewhere, too– but they added an extra inducement. Why bother?

It wasn't just the garment industry. Garbage haulers wouldn't come into New York because they knew it wasn't worth the effort. If you came in you'd be shaken down, and if you didn't pay them off there would be a strike, because they controlled the Teamsters on the garbage locals.

A lot of fish wholesalers wouldn't come into New York for many years. They would rather go to New England, or the big fish markets in Baltimore, where they wouldn't have this trouble.

PHILIP ANGELL: And the important thing to remember is that it was underwritten by violence, no matter what industry.


GOTHAM GAZETTE: Why do people have such a romantic view of this?

SELWYN RAAB: Well, that's Hollywood. American entertainers have always had a vicarious love affair with criminals. They're interesting people; you're more interested in rogues than good guys. Do you want to do a story about the founder of the Red Cross or Salvation Army? No one is too interested in that.

One of my pet peeves is a movie like the Godfather, where we set up the idea that there are good Mafiosi and bad Mafiosi. Don Vito Corleone, played by Marlon Brando, he's a white hat, a good guy cowboy. At one point, he's opposed to narcotics, and as a result there's an attempt on his life by the bad Mafiosi. But who wins? The good guys. They try to create this image that it's not so simple, that you can identify with them.

I don't watch the Sopranos every week, but when I do watch what I see is a soap opera not about a mob family, but a dysfunctional suburban family. If you're a middle-aged man, you can easily identify with Tony Soprano. His kids are rebelling against him, his wife is smarter than him and wants to leave him, he doesn't have the old time loyalty when he goes to the office anymore. He has all these midlife crises, even though he lives in a mini mansion, has a harem of beauties throwing themselves at him, and he's got big cars and all the money in the world. Yet he's got these crises; you can sympathize with him. You don’t see him for the most part killing people.

You get a vicarious kick out of watching these people. Look at the great lives they lead: they sleep late, they don't have to go to work, they make a lot of money, they have a lot of woman friends. It looks good.

There's one other aspect which I think is a subtext to all of this, which makes these movies popular and is why people romanticize the Mafia: they're antiestablishment. In the Godfather, they talk about how the Italian Americans couldn't get a break. They had to become a government onto themselves, because the WASP establishment wouldn't allow them to become bankers or big businessmen. You can see it also in the Sopranos. His father was a laborer. What a choice: drive a truck for a living, or could he work for the mob and make a lot of money, be comfortable, take care of your family?

GOTHAM GAZETTE: But how much of that is true?

SELWYN RAAB: Well, I've talked to a few made men. They always rationalized what they did and why they did it. But they have always been into anything that will bring them money.

Thanks to the GOTHAM GAZETTE

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

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

Friday, March 10, 2006

Trial Begins of NY Cops Charged as Mafia Hit Men

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

Jury selection began on Monday in the federal trial of two former New York detectives accused of having been hit men for the mob in a case the judge predicts will captivate the jurors.

Defendants Stephen Caracappa, 64, and Louis Eppolito, 57, were charged early last year with secretly working for the Luchese crime family while employed as police officers and involvement in 11 murders or attempted murders.

The charges, which also include kidnapping and other crimes, set the stage for a colorful and closely watched trial. Both defendants had served on the force more than 20 years.

Brooklyn U.S. District Court Judge Jack Weinstein set opening arguments for March 13 and assured hundreds of potential jurors assembled in his courtroom the case "will be one of the most interesting experiences of your life." Twelve jurors and six alternates will be selected.

When Eppolito showed up in court 75 minutes late, Weinstein ordered that he be rearrested and that his $5 million bail be revoked until a good explanation was provided.

Weinstein, an 85-year-old former Columbia Law School professor known for toughness, set Eppolito free again after defense lawyer Bruce Cutler explained that his client had been seriously delayed by a "trailer accident" on the highway.

In the courtroom, the tall and overweight defendant seemed at ease, embracing Cutler and trading smiles and pleasantries with Caracappa and his co-defendant's high-profile lawyer, Edward Hayes.

Cutler, best known for his successful defense of the late Gambino crime family boss John Gotti in several trials, said it will be tougher to defend Eppolito because federal prosecutors plan to have at least four Mafia informants and turncoats testify against him. "The federal government is making sweetheart deals with all kinds of people -- including (crime family) acting bosses -- that will say what the government wants to hear," Cutler said in a telephone interview.

After retiring, Eppolito played a bit role as "Fat Andy" in the mob movie "Goodfellas" and played character roles in several other Hollywood productions.

Thanks to Ransdell Pierson

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Lucchese Crime Family

This page is a work in progress. It will include Members of the Lucchese Crime Family who appear in articles within the Chicago Syndicate. Eventually, each member will have a bio page with links to the articles in which he appears. The gangsters have been split into 3 categories: "Bosses", "Friends of Mine" and "Friends of Ours". It is not intended to be an all-inclusive listing of Lucchese Members and Associates, but more of an index for this site. As other members or associates are mentioned in articles, the list will grow. If you have information on any additions or changes that should be made, please let me know.
BossesFriends of OursFriends of Mine

Alphonse "Little Al" D'Arco
Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso
Tommy Lucchese

Al Visconti
Anthony "Tony Ducks" Corallo

Bruno Facciolo
Larry Taylor
Louis "Louie Bagels" Daidone

Burton Kaplan
Louis Eppolito
Stephen Caracappa

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Real Dons Steal Sopranos Limelight

Friends of ours: John "Junior" Gotti, Vinny "Gorgeous" Basciano, Michael "Mikey Scars" DiLeonardo, Bonanno Crime Family, Lucchese Crime Family, John "Dapper Don" Gotti, Joseph Massino
Friends of mine: Louis Eppolito, Stephen Caracappa, Soprano Crime Family

While the acclaimed TV series bows out, New Yorkers are gripped by the drama of three real-life Mafia-linked trials

The final series of The Sopranos will go out on American TV a week today, beginning the last chapter of its epic chronicle of the lives, loves and murders of the nation's most famous Mob family. But one part of America does not have to wait with bated breath: New York. After all, who needs Tony Soprano and his fictional travails when real mafiosi such as John 'Junior' Gotti, Vinny 'Gorgeous' Basciano and Mikey 'Scars' DiLeonardo stalk the front pages.

In a throwback to the Mob's long-lost heyday, New York has gone Mafia-mad in the past week. No fewer than three high-profile trials are dominating the tabloid press and local TV stations, uncovering a mobster world of hitmen, assassinations and police corruption that even Tony Soprano's scriptwriters would have hesitated to invent.

Top of the heap is the dramatic trial of Gotti, alleged head of the Gambino crime family, whose father was known as the Dapper Don for his sharp suits and high profile on the social scene. Now the junior Gotti faces racketeering charges, including the kidnapping and attempted murder of Curtis Sliwa, a radio host and founder of the Guardian Angels crime-fighting volunteers. Another case involves Basciano, charged with killing one Mob associate and plotting the death of two others. He is alleged to be acting head of the Bonanno crime family. The third prosecution, set to start within weeks, has been called the 'Mafia cops' trial. It involves allegations that two top policemen, Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, worked as hitmen for the Lucchese crime family.

But it is the Gotti trial - with its mix of Mob glamour and death - that has grabbed attention. 'They can still draw a crowd,' said Jerry Capeci, who has written six books on the Mafia. Given the alleged crimes, that is no surprise. In one gripping piece of recent testimony Sliwa told how a gang killer tried to 'whack' him by shooting him in a taxi with its windows and doors rigged so they would not open. As he was travelling to work in Greenwich Village, a man suddenly popped up in the front seat, said 'Take this' and began shooting at him. Sliwa, bleeding from gunshot wounds that left him in hospital for two weeks, escaped by climbing through a broken car window as the taxi zig-zagged down the street.

In another of the trial's 'highlights', one witness, DiLeonardo, revealed that the late Dapper Don had fathered a child by a woman living on Staten Island. That triggered the sort of tabloid frenzy among gossip writers and paparazzi usually associated with Hollywood stars. The child was found to be a 19-year-old dental student. 'I feel bad for my daughter. It's 2006. We want to move on,' said her mother, Shannon Connelly.

The Gotti trial has been so highly publicised that tourists have been flocking to the Manhattan court for a dose of the real Sopranos. But all the court cases have exposed crimes that are hard to romanticise. Prosecutors say Basciano blasted one rival with a 12-gauge shotgun. The attack on Sliwa left him needing a colostomy bag after one bullet went through his intestines. There are drug rings, extortion, bribery and cold, hard killings: all revealed in sordid detail.

Yet the real story is that these cases have all been brought simultaneously, dealing what remains of the Mafia in New York a potentially fatal blow. The FBI and police have so successfully infiltrated the gangs over the past two decades that the Mob is a shadow of its former self. Many of the witnesses are turncoats from the highest levels of an organisation once thought impenetrable. The main evidence against Basciano comes from conversations taped by former don Joseph Massino, the first head of a Mafia family to wear a wire and betray his associates. Gotti's lawyer has used this as a defence, saying his client was born into the Mob family but wanted to leave due to the huge degree of betrayal. 'He saw a life where his father went to jail for the rest of his life, died locked away from his family, based on the testimony of a serial killer who was supposed to be his closest associate. He saw the treachery first hand,' said Charles Carnesi.

When it comes to the old values of silence and loyalty, it is other ethnic gangs in New York, such as the Russians and the Chinese Triads, who are far more of a criminal threat. Neighbourhoods dominated by Russians and Chinese are full of new immigrants vulnerable to gangs; meanwhile the Italians have moved to Long Island or New Jersey.

Yet despite the decline in the Mafia's power, it still dominates the headlines more than any other form of organised crime. That is far more to do with the media and Hollywood than reality. For the American love affair with the Mafia is one based on the entertainment industry.

Before the Gotti trial began last month the once-feared family's name had been best known recently for a tawdry reality TV show starring Gotti Junior's sister, Victoria, called Growing Up Gotti. It has been a steady decline from the Oscar-winning art of the Godfather movies to the high-class soap opera of The Sopranos and finally to reality television.

Tony Soprano would recognise that as a rule of the fictional gangsters: No one lives forever, everyone gets whacked in the end. Even, perhaps, the Mafia itself.

Thanks to Paul Harris

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.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Alleged mob cop's wife arrested for tax evasion

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

The wife of "Mafia Cop" Louis Eppolito was arrested Wednesday in Las Vegas on federal tax evasion charges, defense attorney Bruce Cutler said. Fran Eppolito was taken into custody by federal agents on the basis of a complaint that accused her of not paying taxes, Cutler said. Cutler, who is representing Louis Eppolito in a Brooklyn federal indictment, said details of Fran Eppolito's case were not available late Wednesday. Officials at the Las Vegas U.S. attorney's office wouldn't comment on any case pending the unsealing of court documents.

Eppolito's husband, a former NYPD detective, was indicted last year on charges he and his partner, Stephen Caracappa, worked as hit men for the Luchese crime family while they were police officers in the the 1980s and '90s.

Federal prosecutors allege that they took tens of thousands of dollars from former acting Luchese boss Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso to carry out gangland hits and funnel confidential law enforcement information to the mob. In total, prosecutors have charged the pair with involvment in 10 homicides.

Both Louis Eppolito, 57, and Caracappa, 64, have been free on $5 million bail and are under house arrest in the New York City area. They are scheduled to go on trial next month in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn.

Cutler characterized the arrest of Eppolito's wife as "a low-blow thing." Rather than handling tax matters with "civility," the government engaged in "federal thuggery" by using an indictment in such fashion.

The Brooklyn-born Eppolito and his wife moved to Las Vegas after he left the police force in early 1990 after suffering a heart attack. He had been highly decorated during his 21 years as a cop, earning more than 100 medals of recognition and two medals for valor, his attorney said.

Fran Eppolito has been a regular spectator at her husband's Brooklyn court appearances.

Thanks to Anthony Destefano

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

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


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