The Chicago Syndicate: Stephen Caracappa
The Mission Impossible Backpack

Showing posts with label Stephen Caracappa. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stephen Caracappa. Show all posts

Monday, November 09, 2020

Friends of the Family The Inside Story of the Mafia Cops Case #MafiaCops

On March 10, 2005, two highly decorated detectives, Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, were indicted for providing information to the Lucchese crime family, a $4,000-a-month deal that resulted in at least eight murders - two of which they committed themselves - as well as an incredible assortment of other crimes. For more than a decade they had gotten away with it - until the day Detective Tommy Dades answered his telephone.

Friends of the Family: The Inside Story of the Mafia Cops Case, is a look deep inside the most notorious case to rock the NYPD: The story of Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, the two police detectives who moonlighted as mob hit men. As told by Tommy Dades and Michael Vecchione—the cop and District Attorney investigator who solved New York’s coldest case—along with co-writer David Fisher, Friends of the Family is shocking true crime in the tradition of Nicolas Pileggi’s Wise Guy: Life in a Mafia Family, and Underboss: Sammy the Bull Gravano's Story of Life in the Mafia, by Peter Mass—a chilling, in-depth examination of what the New York Daily News calls “the worst betrayal of the badge in the NYPD’s history.”

Friday, September 23, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks to Miles Corwin

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Brotherhoods: The True Story of Two Cops Who Murdered for the Mafia

It was a case that took years to make. Former NYPD Detectives Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa were accused of taking part in at least eight gangland murders in the ‘80s and early ‘90s, most while still on the job. In the end they were found guilty; but the judge threw out their convictions, saying the statute of limitations had expired, even though he believed the evidence showed overwhelmingly that the officers were guilty.

“It's sort of crazy and sensible,” explained Guy Lawson, co-author of the book “Brotherhoods: The True Story of Two Cops Who Murdered for the Mafia” about the case. “It's like New York City, it's a paradox. It all makes sense at each stage, but when you put it all together, it seems like madness.”

It makes for a story that is better than fiction. “[It had] murder, kidnapping, and intrigue, and the mafia and hit men,” said co-author of “Brotherhoods”, William Oldham. “[It had] a guy who killed 30 people, and a “good guy” who only killed six people."

Oldham was one of a team of investigators who made the case. He and Lawson have written the first book about it, a book that begins with Oldham's story. “In 1990, I went to work with Stephen Caracappa in the major case squad,” recalled Oldham.

The allegations against Eppolito and Caracappa emerged in the mid-90s, but prosecutors did not have enough evidence to charge them. That is when Oldham started investigating the detectives. “In 1997, everyone had sort of packed up their tents and gone home, and I thought that these two deserved a trial and I began an investigation that lasted seven years,” said Oldham.

“I think the secret to why Oldham took this case is because it was so damn hard,” added Lawson. “You know, there's a certain kind of intelligence that wants to do the hardest thing.”

Oldham eventually produced the key witness, Burton Kaplan, a marijuana dealer who said he was the main contact between the officers and the Luchese family. “The thing about a RICO case, it's a number of criminal instants strung together and you sort of do need a story teller to connect the dots,” explained Oldham.

Thanks to Solana Pyne

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Friends of the Family - The Inside Story of the Mafia Cops Case

Several books, including one by Jimmy Breslin, have been written on the Mafia cops case: the story of two city detectives who in 2005 were charged with being in league with mob hit men and committing two murders themselves. If you’re still looking for even more detail, “Friends of the Family” (William Morrow) by Tommy Dades and Michael Vecchione with David Fisher promises “The Inside Story of the Mafia Cops Case,” as the subtitle puts it. (Mr. Vecchione heads the investigations division for the Brooklyn district attorney, Charles J. Hynes; Mr. Dades is a former detective who worked on the case).

Some questions are still being pondered, though, including one posed by the authors themselves. “Even after the whole thing was done and the Mafia cops had been put in a cell to rot forever,” they write, “there was still one question that never got answered: At the beginning, were these guys killers who became cops or were they cops who became killers?”

Thanks to Sam Roberts

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Good Rat - A True Story

Jimmy Breslin stared helplessly out the window of his office in The Daily News one afternoon in the 1970s, seeking inspiration — through a haze of cigar smoke — from the nondescript facade of a building across 42nd Street.

He betrayed no visible brain activity, not even a flicker of the genius that infused his columns, one of which was close to being overdue. I know because I was his anxious editor. But his blank stare was an illusion. Mr. Breslin was eavesdropping. He was mining a rich lode of gossip from his assistant, Ann Marie, who was chatting on the telephone outside his office door.

Mr. Breslin is a very good listener. Almost imperceptibly, his head began to turn until he finally fixed his gaze on Ann Marie, and in one of those unheralded but defining moments in journalism, a series of columns about the underside of life in the Big City — with the names changed to protect the guilty and Mr. Breslin himself — was born.

In “The Good Rat: A True Story” (Ecco Press), Mr. Breslin recalls another of his eureka moments, which took place in a Brooklyn courtroom where he had gone to research a book about two cops turned Mafia hit men. One was fat and sad-eyed, the other thin and listless.

“Am I going to write 70,000 words about these two?” Mr. Breslin asked himself. “Rather I lay brick.” But when the trial started two years ago, he recalls, an unknown name on the prosecution witness list “turns the proceeding into something that thrills: the autobiography of Burton Kaplan, criminal.” Mr. Breslin had found his subject, a Brooklyn Tech dropout, father of a judge, who was “a great merchant, too great, and after he sold everything that did belong to him, he sold things that did not.”

And lucky for us. His book ingeniously synthesizes Burton Kaplan’s bizarre biography, his testimony, and Mr. Breslin’s memoirs of his own earlier exploits and encounters with characters who punctuated his columns but are mostly dead, imprisoned, or hidden in witness protection programs.

“You can drink with legitimate people if you want,” Mr. Breslin writes of his social circle, adding that he is a product of nights when the mobster Fat Tony Salerno looked around the Copacabana, scowled at him and asked, “ ‘Didn’t you go where I told you to?’ ”

Where had Mr. Breslin been told to go? That morning, he had encountered Mr. Salerno at a court engagement where the mobster complained, “You look like a bum,” and slipped him an East Side tailor’s business card.

“Tell him you want a suit made right away so you don’t make me ashamed I know you,” Mr. Salerno ordered.

The book is cleverly constructed, opening with an annotated cast of characters, and it delivers canny anthropological insights into organized crime (“The feds soon realized all they had to do was follow guys who kiss each other and they’d know the whole Mafia”). Mr. Breslin also criticizes John Gotti for having “violated New York’s revered rush-hour rules when he had Paul Castellano killed in the middle of it.”

Mr. Breslin’s account of a victim who was killed by mistake belies the idea that there are no innocent bystanders. And every page reveals his talent for putting a twinkle in your mind’s eye (the lawyer Bruce Cutler wore “a light khaki summer suit that could have used 10 pounds less to cover”). The book is Jimmy Breslin at his best.

Thanks to Sam Roberts

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Friends of the Family: The Inside Story of the Mafia Cops Case

Detectives Louie Eppolito and Steve Caracappa were the most corrupt and dangerous cops in American history. When they retired in the early 1990s, they left behind a pile of bodies—and for more than a decade, it looked like they were going to get away with it.

As highly decorated NYPD detectives with access to the department's most sensitive information, they sold their badges to the Mafia—and became murderers for the mob. Eventually they retired to Las Vegas, believing they had put their lives of murder and mayhem safely behind them. And they would have lived happily ever after, if not for one dedicated cop at the end of his career and an assistant district attorney. Detective Tommy Dades and Brooklyn Assistant DA Mike Vecchione turned this seemingly unsolvable cold-blooded case into one of the great law-and-order stories in the annals of New York City. And for the first time, in this book, Dades and Vecchione tell the whole inside story of the investigation.

For Detective Tommy Dades, the case began with a phone call from a distraught mother who just happened to mention an almost forgotten meeting that had taken place years earlier. Dades and Mike Vecchione had performed cold-case miracles before, but this one seemed impossible. Together, quietly and tenaciously, they began to uncover the hideous truth. A highly secret joint state and federal task force began building a body-by-body case against an incredible array of characters, from one of the most viciously insane Mafia bosses in history—who wanted to kill people he dreamed were plotting against him—to the one-eyed Jew who knew all the secrets. As the cold case got front-page-headline hot, Dades and Vecchione encountered an unexpected obstacle: the federal prosecutor plotted to take the case—and those headlines—away from Brooklyn.

For the first time, the two men who brought this incredible story to life reveal the epic confrontations that occurred behind the scenes and led to a stunning courtroom announcement—and came perilously close to destroying the case against the Mafia cops.

Friends of the Family: The Inside Story of the Mafia Cops Case, is the complete, inside story of the historic case that rocked the world of law enforcement.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Gaspipe: Confessions of a Mafia Boss

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, February 02, 2015

#MafiaCops Cost City $5,000,000 Settlement

The City of New York on Friday agreed to pay $5 million to the family of a man killed after being mistaken for a mobster with the same name — thanks to information the killers gleaned from two former police detectives later convicted of moonlighting as hit men for the mob.

The city Law Department called Nicholas Guido’s 1986 death tragic in a statement Friday and says settling is in the city’s best interest.

The family’s lawyer did not immediately return a call from the Associated Press.

The 26-year-old Guido was shot outside his mother’s home on 17th Street in Park Slope, Brooklyn on Christmas Day 1986, according to a New York Daily News report.

Federal prosecutors said the gunmen had Guido had no ties to organized crime, but happened to share a name with an associate of the Gambino crime family who was part of a team of hit men that tried to kill Lucchese family underboss Anthony “Gaspipe” Casso three years earlier.

Casso who paid two detectives – Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa — to help in eight murders, according to the Daily News report. They were accused of carrying out two of those killings themselves.
Eppolito and Caracappa were both sentenced to life in prison.

Thanks to CBS New York.

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

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mafia Cops Sent to Separate Prisons

Mafia cops Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa were partners as detectives, partners in crime, neighbors in Las Vegas - and cellmates after being convicted as mob hit men.

Now, their illicit partnership has been broken up forever.

Caracappa, 67, who requested a prison on the East Coast, has been shipped out to Victorville Penitentiary in California to serve his life-plus-80-year sentence.

The high-security prison 86 miles northeast of Los Angeles was once home to notorious inmates John Walker Lindh - the so-called American Taliban - and Ingmar Guandique, suspected of killing Capitol Hill intern Chandra Levy.

Two prisoners have been slain there since it opened in 2004, and a bomb exploded in the prison in February. "It's not a good place to be, but it's better than where he was," said Caracappa's lawyer Daniel Nobel.

Sources said the laconic Caracappa was miserable having to spend every waking moment with a loudmouth like Eppolito in the Brooklyn federal lockup in Sunset Park.

Because they're ex-cops, they were locked down 23 hours a day as a safety precaution and kept away from other inmates.

"If you have two persons together in a small cell that is the size of a closet for some New Yorkers, most marriages would dissolve under those circumstances," Nobel said of their time at the Metropolitan Detention Center.

Eppolito, 60, is still awaiting word from the U.S. Bureau of Prisons as to which cinder-block tomb he will be sent to die.

"It was very peculiar to me that they were housed together," said Eppolito's lawyer Joseph Bondy. "The alternative was solitary confinement."

Eppolito and Caracappa are appealing their convictions, arguing that their trial lawyers were incompetent.

In a letter to Judge Jack Weinstein, Eppolito's daughter Andrea wrote, "The rest of my life will be dedicated to bringing him home where he belongs."

Thanks to John Marzulli

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Degenerate Gambler Accountant Aides the Feds in Bringing Down Mobsters

Las Vegas has always been an attractive place for the hail-fellow, the hustler, and the man on the make.

With its shadowy history, seductive setting and proximity to a limitless river of cash, it brims with dreamers, scufflers and schemers. It's a spot where a guy who knows a guy can make a good living.

It was perhaps the ideal spot for the FBI to turn a man like Stephen Corso loose with a recording device. By all accounts, Corso was the street-wise guy Las Vegas tourists fantasize about and most locals rarely experience, the one who exists in dimly lighted bars and nondescript strip mall offices.

Corso was an accountant by training, a salesman by calling, and a high-rolling degenerate gambler by compulsion when he got caught swiping clients' money to feed his blackjack Jones and penthouse lifestyle. He spent $5 million that didn't belong to him and was on his way to a prison stretch when he began cooperating with the FBI in 2002.

From what I've pieced together from public documents and street sources, the smooth-talking accountant found his true calling as an undercover informant. Reliable sources say Corso worked his way into the local mob scene and pulled the pants off some very experienced wiseguys.

According to a federal document from the Eastern District of Virginia, where Corso's efforts helped nail securities attorney David Stocker on a "pump and dump" stock manipulation scheme with connections reaching into the Securities and Exchange Commission, the accountant was a one-man La Cosa Nostra census worker.

"He provided information related to the activities of individuals with ties to several LCN organized crime families to include: the Chicago Outfit, Lucchese LCN, Bonanno LCN, Genovese LCN, Colombo LCN, Philadelphia LCN, Decavalcante LCN, and Gambino LCN," the document states. "Corso was also instrumental in providing FBI agents with information on individuals with ties to Russian organized crime, Youngstown, Ohio gangsters, and the Irish Mob which exists in the Boston, Mass. area."

Sounds like the guy did everything but dig up Jimmy Hoffa. Corso back-slapped his way into the Las Vegas underworld, then used his accounting and tax preparation skills to give the wiseguys a financial endoscopic treatment.

He played an integral role in sealing the deal in the lengthy "Mafia Cops" case, in which Las Vegas residents and former NYPD detectives Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa were found guilty of acting as contract killers for the Lucchese crime family. Corso's work in Las Vegas proved beyond reasonable doubt that the Mafia Cops continued their criminal conspiracy years after leaving New York.

"Corso's testimony was critical to the ... conclusion that the conspiracy continued into the limitations period," one government document states.

It's as simple as this: No Corso, no Mafia Cops conviction. And it will be intriguing to see whether the government gets a victory in a related drug case involving Eppolito's son, Anthony Eppolito, and Guido Bravatti now that Corso has been sentenced to a year and a day for his own transgressions.

It's also been reported Corso worked in connection with the Crazy Horse Too investigation. I imagine former Crazy Horse official Bobby D'Apice, who now resides at government expense, won't be sending his former tax consultant, Corso, a letter of reference.

At his February sentencing in Connecticut, U.S. District Judge Janet Hall seemed almost apologetic. Although she called Corso's crime "an extraordinary violation of trust," she admitted, "I can't find the words to describe the value, at least in my judgment, of this cooperation."

The feds have a long tradition of going to embarrassing lengths to help their most effective informants. Not this time. Corso, the accountant, will serve longer than some informants with murder convictions.

Who could blame him if he told the government to get stuffed? The FBI and U.S. attorney's office in Connecticut credit Corso with generating at least seven arrests, 20 convictions, and $4.2 million in seizures and forfeitures. And it isn't over.

"The LCN is well known for its tradition of seeking retribution against those who cooperate with law enforcement," a federal memo states. "Corso knew of the danger, but continually put himself in harm's way for the benefit of the government."

So much for loyalty.

Now all Stephen Corso has to do is watch his back the rest of his life.

Thanks to John L. Smith

Monday, April 13, 2009

Mafia Turf War Breaks Out in Brooklyn

There's a new Mafia turf war in Brooklyn - but this time, it's the prosecutors who are doing battle.

Michael Vecchione, the rackets bureau chief in the Brooklyn district attorney's office, has rankled the feds by claiming in a new book that they swiped the celebrated Mafia cops case and then hogged all the glory.

Vecchione complains in "Friends of the Family: The Inside Story of the Mafia Cops Case" that federal prosecutors claimed most of the credit for nailing crooked NYPD Detectives Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa.

While turf battles between local and federal law enforcement agencies are common, Vecchione's stinging criticism is unusual because he still works for the district attorney and is supposed to cooperate with the feds on ongoing cases.

"I don't see how anybody can deal with him after he's violated the sanctity of confidential conversations for mercenary reasons," a federal law enforcement source said.

The feds agreed to let Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes' office announce arrests and prosecute one of the murders linked to the Mafia cops, the book claims. But they went back on their word, according to the book, which Vecchione wrote with retired NYPD Detective Thomas Dades and author David Fisher.

"For them to tell us that they didn't say exactly what they said to me was such an act of cowardice and betrayal that I couldn't find words to explain it," Vecchione said.

Eppolito, 60, and Caracappa, 67, were convicted in 2006 of participating in eight murders for Luchese crime boss Anthony (Gaspipe) Casso and leaking confidential information to the gangster.

Casso revealed in 1994 the cops had been on his payroll for years. But the feds couldn't make a case against the rogue detectives until a decade later when Dades and the district attorney's office helped expose their involvement in the murder of a mob associate.

Vecchione unleashed his harshest attack on Greg Andres, the current criminal division chief of the U.S. attorney's office.

"As far as Vecchione was concerned, Andres was a typically arrogant poker-up-his-ass, know-it-all fed," the book states. "His animosity toward Andres went back to a wiseguy case ... in which Andres [credited] the FBI for work it hadn't done."

Hynes, who approved Vecchione's book deal, insisted there's no feud. "Our working relationships with the U.S. attorney's office are excellent and any bump in the road that might have occurred was just that. There are no problems between us and I don't expect any," Hynes said.

Andres and U.S. Attorney Benton Campbell declined comment. But former top federal prosecutors panned the book.

"Public confidence in the integrity of the Brooklyn DA's office is only eroded when a rackets bureau chief writes and shops a book about a murder case he is investigating and preparng for trial," said George Stamboulidis, managing partner of the law firm Baker Hostetler.

Thomas Seigel, the former chief of the U.S. attorney's organized crime section - who was not involved in the Mafia cops case - said: "The incredibly dedicated members of state and federal law enforcement typically and laudably refrain from criticizing their colleagues in the press, let alone a book, over internal squabbles. It is hard to see how law enforcement as a whole benefits from such personal and public criticism."

Vecchione and Dades wrote the book three years ago but held off its publication until the defendants had exhausted their appeals.

The 2006 jury verdict was thrown out by Judge Jack Weinstein on a legal technicality but reinstated by the U.S. Court of Appeals. The cops were recently sentenced to life in prison.

Thanks to John Marzulli

Monday, March 23, 2009

Talk-Show Host Charlie Rose Survives Botched Mafia Hit Attempt

Bring me the head of Charlie Rose!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks to Brad Hamilton

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Mafia Cops Remain Defiant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks to John L. Smith

Monday, March 09, 2009

Pension Laws Allow "Mafia Cops" to Keep Tax-Free Income Despite Convictions

A side door swung open, and the two retired police detectives, dressed in shapeless prison scrubs, walked into the courtroom. They looked as if they had been shipwrecked.

Nearly three years ago, the two men, Stephen Caracappa and Louis J. Eppolito, were convicted of serving as assassins and spies for the Mafia while they were employed as detectives for the Police Department.

A case of outsize horrors and drastic turns — plus celebrity lawyers, three books, and a conviction reversed, then restored — came to its reckoning Friday afternoon on the 10th floor of the federal courthouse in Brooklyn. By day’s end, it would provide one more twist from its store of the absurd.

“These two defendants have committed what amounts to treason against the people of the City of New York and their fellow police officers,” said Judge Jack B. Weinstein of United States District Court.

He sentenced Mr. Eppolito to life plus 100 years, and fined him $4.75 million; Mr. Caracappa got life plus 80 years, and a fine of $4.25 million. The judge said both men were likely to have “hidden assets” from their crimes.

Yet one asset — in plain sight — might not be seized to pay their debts.

Both men have been drawing tax-free disability pensions from the city since they left the Police Department, according to city records. Mr. Caracappa, who retired in 1992 as a first-grade detective, receives $5,313 a month. Mr. Eppolito, who retired in 1990 as a second-grade detective, is paid $3,896 a month. Because they retired before they were accused of crimes, their pensions will continue.

Moreover, the pensions are not subject to seizure for payment of the fines, said Joseph A. Bondy, the lawyer for Mr. Caracappa. “I fought the government for Peter Gotti when they tried to garnish a disability pension, and we won,” said Mr. Bondy, who defended Mr. Gotti on murder and racketeering charges in 2004.

Under state law, public pensions are treated as property held in trust for the employees, and periodic efforts to make their forfeiture a penalty for corrupt public employees have failed. The Daily News reported last year that 450 corrupt former officials, judges and police officers were receiving pensions.

While both men have families, the two are likely to have little use in prison for the tax-free bounty that, in theory, they earned during the years that, a jury found, they were also killing for the Mafia, setting up informants for death or exposure, and poring through confidential police computers in service of the organized crime figures who were providing them with regular payoffs.

At 67, Mr. Caracappa has grown gaunt, the color so vanished from his face that it was hard to say where a scraggly gray beard met his pallid skin; Mr. Eppolito, 60, appeared to have lost weight behind bars, but remained a round, burly figure whose face reddened as a son and a daughter of two victims stood to describe their losses.

Their trial in 2006 lasted three weeks, and was built on testimony from Burton Kaplan, a wholesale garment dealer who had gone into multiple schemes with organized crime figures. He was the subject of “The Good Rat: A True Story” (Ecco, 2008), a pitch-perfect account by Jimmy Breslin, who described how Mr. Caracappa helped a Mafia patron hunt for a Nicholas Guido by using a police computer. But the detective provided the address of a different man, a young telephone installer with the same name as the hitmen’s prey. He was killed in front of his home in Park Slope.

The first reports of the detectives’ corruption were made in 1979, and they were implicated a number of times through the 1980s but were never charged, and managed to continue their rise within the police ranks, according to Greg B. Smith’s “Mob Cops” (Berkley, 2006).

In the courtroom on Friday afternoon, a son from one family, then a daughter from another stood to speak for murdered fathers. A man framed by the ex-detectives told them he hoped that they would suffer in prison for the rest of their lives, as he had for 19 years.

Both Mr. Caracappa and Mr. Eppolito protested their innocence on Friday. “You will never take my will to prove how innocent I am,” Mr. Caracappa said.

One of those who spoke was Yael Perlman, the daughter of a gem dealer, Israel Greenwald, whose business dealings with Mr. Kaplan went sour. He was pulled off a highway by the two detectives in 1986, killed and buried under an auto repair shop. She was 7 years old then, and it was not until 2005 that his remains were found. The lack of a body “prevented us from receiving the small material respite of life insurance,” Ms. Perlman said.

Told later that both men would continue to receive their police pensions, she said, “That’s sick.”

Thanks to Jim Dwyer

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

Thursday, March 05, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nick Guido was the only innocent man.

Thanks to Pablo Guzman

Sunday, February 22, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks to Ralph Blumenthal

Monday, February 09, 2009

History Repeats Itself, After One CPA Gets Capone, Another CPA Puts the Mafia Cops Away

Accountant Stephen Corso was in deep trouble. His clients, including longtime friends, told federal authorities in 2002 t hat he had stolen more than $5 million. Then the Ridgefield man who loved to gamble took the biggest risk of his life: He decided to become an FBI informant in Las Vegas.

Corso's fateful decision came as federal agents were struggling to build a case against two former New York City police detectives long suspected of collaborating with the mob — and even of killing for the mob — in one of the worst cases of police corruption in the city's history.

After a secret meeting with an FBI agent, Corso was fitted with a wire and went to work recording conversations with suspected mobsters visiting Las Vegas from around the country.

He had no backup as he secretly recorded the conversations, and once was threatened with execution if he turned out to be an informant, authorities said.

His clandestine recordings eventually filled more than 900 tapes.

"We came across anything and everything," said FBI agent Kevin Sheehan.

Among the people Corso met in his undercover work was Louis Eppolito, one of the detectives suspected of carrying out mob hits.

"It was divine intervention," Robert Henoch, a former New York prosecutor who handled the case, said at Corso's sentencing Tuesday when he received a year in prison. Or maybe it was dumb luck, he added.

Either way, Corso's recordings began to fill in the holes in the case against Eppolito and fellow former detective Stephen Caracappa. Eppolito, the son of a mobster, was living in Las Vegas while trying to peddle screenplays.

Eppolito and Caracappa were accused of participating in eight mob-related killings between 1986 and 1990 while working for the Luchese crime family. At one point in Corso's recordings, Eppolito bragged about dunking someone's head in acid and threatened to decapitate another person, Henoch said.

A New York jury found the detectives guilty in 2006, but a judge dismissed their racketeering case after determining the statute of limitations had passed on the slayings. A federal appeals court reinstated the verdict last year after prosecutors argued that the murders were part of a conspiracy that lasted through a drug deal in 2005 with Corso.

"There never would have been justice without Mr. Corso's cooperation," Henoch said.

Corso's intelligence also led to other prosecutions and saved investigators millions of dollars, authorities said.

Corso, who faced the possibility of more than seven years in prison but won the reduced sentence for his extraordinary cooperation, is scheduled to surrender May 6. He also has been ordered to pay restitution to the clients from whom he stole money.

Susan Patrick, whose family lost more than $800,000 to Corso, said he was a family friend before the thefts.

"This started a six-year nightmare," she said Tuesday. "We will never be whole for our losses. I don't believe Mr. Corso is at all sorry."

Corso, who apologized to the victims and his family, said at the time that he ripped off millions from his clients to finance a life of "girlfriends, jewelry and going out." Prosecutors say he also had significant gambling losses while living a second life in Las Vegas.

Corso told the judge his parents were first generation Italian immigrants who struggled so that he could have a better life and helped pay for his education at New York University. They hated the mob, he said. "And I threw it all away," Corso said. "I simply lost the way I was raised, how I was raised, but I know for the last six years I functioned and there was never a moment, never a second, that I ever considered doing anything wrong."

Authorities said they offered to put Corso in a witness protection program, but he refused because he would not be able to see his wife and three children.

They say Corso remains in danger because of his cooperation with them. "Mr. Corso will live the rest of his life with a target on his back," said his attorney, J. Bruce Maffeo.

Thanks to John Christoffersen


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