The Omaha Steaks God Bless America Memorial Day Special

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

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Convictions of Mafia Cops are Reinstated

The racketeering convictions of two retired New York City detectives who helped to kill at least eight men in their role as mob assassins were ordered reinstated by a federal appeals court. It ruled that a trial judge wrongly overturned the jury’s guilty verdicts two years ago.

The decision means that the two highly decorated detectives — Louis J. Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa — will now face sentencing for their convictions in one of the most spectacular cases of police corruption in city history.

The two men seem certain to spend the rest of their lives in prison. In 2006, after they were convicted of racketeering conspiracy, the trial judge, Jack B. Weinstein of United States District Court in Brooklyn, issued but did not officially impose life prison sentences for each man. Then, saying the five-year statute of limitations for racketeering had run out, the judge overturned the convictions despite what he called “overwhelming evidence” that the two men were “heinous criminals” who were guilty of the “most despicable crimes of violence and treachery.”

But in a 70-page opinion released on Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in Manhattan, concluded that Judge Weinstein’s view of the conspiracy was too narrow, and that it had continued to exist within five years of when the men were charged.

Although murders and other serious crimes that the men were accused of occurred in Brooklyn in the 1980s and 1990s, prosecutors used more recent and less serious charges — money laundering and narcotics distribution in Las Vegas in 2004 and 2005 — to bring the earlier acts under the umbrella of an ongoing criminal enterprise.

Judge Weinstein, in throwing out the men’s convictions, had found that the recent crimes were “singular, sporadic acts of criminality,” and could not be considered part of the earlier conspiracy, which included kidnapping, bribery and obstruction of justice. Because the older crimes dated back more than five years, the men, thus, could not be prosecuted for them.

“The government’s case against these defendants stretches federal racketeering and conspiracy law to the breaking point,” Judge Weinstein wrote.

Judge Weinstein had also decided that the earlier conspiracy ended when the two detectives retired and left the New York area and other co-conspirators were arrested. But Judge Amalya L. Kearse, writing for the appellate panel, said Judge Weinstein’s views of the criminal enterprise were too restrictive, given the evidence presented at the trial.

For example, Judge Kearse said, even after the two detectives retired in the early 1990s, one gave his pager number to Burton Kaplan, a former associate of the Luchese crime family who was the government’s key witness and testified about the services that both detectives had provided to organized crime.

She said the appeals panel concluded that the criminal enterprise had not ended before 2000, and thus the prosecution was not disallowed. Joining in the decision were Judges Robert D. Sack and Peter W. Hall.

Benton J. Campbell, the United States attorney in Brooklyn, whose office had appealed the case, said: “We are gratified by the decision of the Court of Appeals reinstating the jury verdict against the two defendants, who can now be sentenced for the extremely serious crimes that they committed.”

A police spokesman had no comment. Lawyers for each of the two men, who have been held without bond, did not respond to phone messages seeking comment.

Prosecutors charged that the two men, who both joined the police force in 1969, had taken thousands of dollars to carry out the mob murders and to leak law enforcement information, disclosing the identities of witnesses and compromising investigations.

In the first of the mob killings, in 1986, the two detectives, driving in an unmarked police car and using a siren, pulled a jeweler named Israel Greenwald over on a Long Island road, according to a government brief summarizing the trial testimony.

The detectives told Mr. Greenwald that he was needed in a lineup concerning an automobile accident. They then drove him to a garage, where he was shot to death.

Prosecutors said the detectives had first offered their services to Mr. Kaplan through a cousin of Mr. Eppolito’s who was also a mobster. Mr. Kaplan entered into an agreement with the detectives to pay them regularly. “The defendants were paid $4,000 a month for information, and tens of thousands of dollars for murders and kidnappings,” the government brief said.

At the trial, the jury also found that the men murdered a capo in the Gambino family in his Mercedes-Benz on the Belt Parkway; and that they kidnapped a Staten Island man, put him in a trunk, and delivered him to another mobster who tortured him for hours before killing him.

Judge Kearse, in the decision, cited the payments to the detectives as one factor that supported the prosecution’s view that the conspiracy spanned the entire period of the indictment, from 1979 to 2005. She said that the jury had been told the principal purpose of the enterprise, as the indictment charged, was to generate money for the detectives, through legal and illegal activities.

Judge Kearse also noted that prosecutors had told the jury that the two men had “received money for each crime in New York, and they broke the law for money in Las Vegas.”

Thus, she ruled, the jury could have inferred that the conduct was “sufficiently similar in purpose” to show that “the enterprise that began in New York continued to exist in Las Vegas.”

Thanks to Benjamin Weiser

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Reinstatement of Mafia Cops Convictions Sought by US

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act — known as RICO — was signed into law by President Richard M. Nixon in October 1970. Wielded mainly, though not exclusively, as a sword against the Mafia, it holds in its most basic terms that a person or group of people who commit certain crimes as part of a conspiracy or criminal enterprise can be charged with racketeering.

The law has been used against defendants like Funzi Tieri, who once ran the Genovese crime family, and Michael R. Milken, the junk bond financier, and, over the years, has spawned a voluminous literature about what constitutes an “enterprise” or a “conspiracy.”

Yesterday, another debate on just those themes took place as the opposing sides in the so-called Mafia cops corruption case gathered in a federal appeals court in Manhattan to argue whether the convictions of two former New York City police detectives found guilty of killing for the mob last year should stand.

During that debate, at the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, federal prosecutors argued that the convictions, which were overturned last year, should be reinstated because the killings — some as far back as 20 years — were part of the same ongoing enterprise as a small-time drug transaction in Las Vegas two years ago.

The defense argued that there was no continuing conspiracy and that the government had patched together two separate sets of crimes to bolster its case. The three-judge panel will now consider the arguments and rule on whether the convictions should be reinstated.

After a made-for-celluloid trial (with locations as diverse as a senior citizens center in Las Vegas and the parking lot of a Brooklyn Toys “R” Us), the two detectives, Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, were convicted in April 2006 of killing at least eight men for the mob in one of the most spectacular cases of police corruption in the city since Lt. Charles Becker went to the electric chair for murdering the bookmaker Herman Rosenthal in 1915.

Almost as spectacular as the trial itself was its aftermath, when the district judge who heard the case in Brooklyn, Jack B. Weinstein, overturned the convictions. He ruled that the government’s case had stretched racketeering law “to the breaking point” and that the five-year statute of limitations on conspiracies had run out.

From the start, it was unclear if Judge Weinstein was going to accept the government’s central premise in the case: that the eight brutal murders the two detectives were accused of committing in Brooklyn in the 1980s and early 1990s were related to the single ounce of methamphetamine they were later caught selling in Las Vegas, years after they had retired from the force and had left New York. Though the government said the crimes were part of the same “ongoing criminal enterprise,” the defense contended that the prosecutors had “bootstrapped” the drug charges to the murder charges to “freshen up” the case.

Yesterday, one of those prosecutors, Mitra Hormozi, found herself peppered with questions from three judges who were trying to determine the exact nature of what the government has called the Eppolito-Caracappa enterprise.

The government concedes that the two men did not commit a crime together from their last murder in 1991 until 2005, when they were caught on videotape arranging the drug deal in Las Vegas, but Ms. Hormozi suggested that the conspiracy survived because the men maintained a desire to make a quick, illicit dollar and because they kept their enterprise a secret.

She also suggested that, in terms of personality, Mr. Eppolito (a gregarious salesman) and Mr. Caracappa (a sullen brooder) continued to play the same roles in each other’s lives in Las Vegas as they had in Brooklyn when they worked for the police.

Daniel Nobel, Mr. Caracappa’s lawyer, found this ridiculous, saying that certain “personality traits” in “a mere friendship” were not enough to constitute a criminal enterprise.

Joseph Bondy, Mr. Eppolito’s lawyer, said that the drug deal in Las Vegas and money-laundering that his client was accused of there were “completely sporadic disparate acts utterly unconnected to the New York acts.”

Thanks to Alan Feuer

Mondera Gifts

Monday, July 23, 2007

Mafia Cop to Remain in Vegs Jail Until Tax Charges Trial

Friends of ours: Ralph Eppolito, James Eppolito, Gambino Crime Family
Friends of mine: Louis Eppolito, Stephen Caracappa

A former New York police detective dubbed the "mafia cop" must remain in custody pending his trial in Las Vegas on tax charges, a judge ruled Thursday.

Mafia Cop to Remain in Vegs Jail Until Tax Charges TrialLouis Eppolito, 57, stood before U.S. Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen in a black-and-white-striped inmate uniform as she declared him a danger to the community and a flight risk. Eppolito's wife, two daughters and son attended the Las Vegas hearing but declined to comment afterward.

Eppolito and another former New York detective, 64-year-old Stephen Caracappa, are accused of working for the Luchese crime family while serving as officers with the New York City Police Department.

Last year, a New York jury found the pair guilty of participating in at least eight mob-related killings, but a federal judge later dismissed the racketeering case after determining that the statute of limitations had run out. However, Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Johnson said Thursday, the judge also found that prosecutors had an "overwhelming case" against the pair.

Detention for both defendants already has been ordered in the New York case pending a government appeal of the dismissal. Johnson said he expects the state of New York to prosecute Eppolito and Caracappa on murder charges if the federal government fails with its appeal.

The two detectives retired in the early 1990s and moved to Las Vegas, where they were arrested in March 2005.

A federal grand jury in Las Vegas indicted Eppolito and his wife, Frances, in January 2006 on three counts of filing a false income tax return. Their trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 24 before U.S. District Judge Roger Hunt.

The couple's son, Anthony, has been charged with distributing methamphetamine. His trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 24 before U.S. District judge Philip Pro.

Prosecutors have said Louis Eppolito, who appeared briefly in a dozen movies, grew up in a family closely linked with organized crime.

His father, Ralph, was a Gambino family soldier, and his uncle, Jimmy, was a Gambino captain.

Louis Eppolito's 1992 autobiography, "Mafia Cop: the Story of an Honest Cop Whose Family Was the Mob," details his police career and his Mafia connections.

Thanks to Carri Geer Thevenot

Monday, June 18, 2007

Mafia Cop Sends Letter from Jail Declaring Innocence

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

One of two former NYPD detectives accused of moonlighting as hitmen for the mob considers himself an innocent man wrongly imprisoned for more than year after news outlets "crucified" him in reports about the sensational case.

Mafia Cop, Louis Eppolito, Sends Letter from Jail Declaring InnocenceLouis Eppolito made the assertions in a rambling two-page letter written to The Associated Press from a federal jail in Brooklyn. Both Eppolito, 58, and Stephen Caracappa, 64, remain jailed there while prosecutors appeal a judge's decision last summer to overturn their convictions in eight Mafia murders.

"As you know, this case was overturned by the judge, yet we linger in solitary confinement (free men by law) for the past 15 months," Eppolito said in the handwritten letter dated June 7.

Eppolito also accused the government of suppressing evidence that would prove his innocence, and complained about the "media circus" that surrounded the case.

"We were both crucified with each and every story that was written," he wrote in response to an interview request. "It was proven to me by the press that they are not after the truth, but only to sell their newspapers with lies made to make us look like corrupt dirty cops, who were more like monsters then (sic) the good family men which we are."

Eppolito's attorney did not immediately respond Friday to a telephone message. The text of the letter was written in block letters, but Eppolito signed it in script with a flourish.

The former detectives were convicted in April 2006 of leading double lives, working for both the NYPD and Luchese crime family underboss Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso. They earned $65,000 for one of the slayings, authorities said.

A jury found the so-called "Mafia Cops" were responsible for the eight murders, along with kidnapping and other crimes. The pair had been out on $5 million bail for nine months before their convictions on racketeering conspiracy put them behind bars.

Two months later, U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein stunned prosecutors by saying he was compelled to set aside the verdict because the statute of limitations had passed on the slayings, which occurred between 1986 and 1990.

After hiring new attorneys, Eppolito and Caracappa sought their release on bail while they awaited the outcome of a government appeal of Weinstein's ruling or _ if it was upheld _ a retrial on lesser charges stemming from a 2005 drug sting in Las Vegas, where the partners both had retired. But the judge rejected their bid for freedom, calling them "dangerous criminals with no degree of credibility."

It's not unusual for federal appeals to take a year or more to decide.

Thanks to Tom Hays

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Will the Mafia Cops Replace Law and Order?

Friends of mine: Louis Eppolito, Stephen Caracappa

Producer Dick Wolf has made a television empire out of his Law and Order police procedural shows, and now another series may be in the works. Daily Variety reports Wolf and NBC Universal have acquired the rights to the book The Brotherhoods: The True Story of Two Cops who Murdered for the Mafia, by Guy Lawson and William Oldham.

The book tells the story of Stephen Caracappa and Louis Eppolito who were convicted of moonlighting as killers for the mafia. Author Oldham was once a cop working side by side with Eppolito, and when the story came to light—and the NYPD failed to actively investigate—Oldham became a special investigator for the U.S. Attorney’s Brooklyn office and broke the case.

It’s a good story, so good that three movies based on it are already in the works. And now Wolf is looking at it as a launching point for a series about the U.S. Attorney’s investigative team. Whether or not it takes on the Law and Order brand has yet to be decided. "We are very excited about this project," Wolf told Daily Variety. "It contains a unique franchise that could be taken in a multitude of directions."

Thanks to Dennis Michael

Sunday, October 08, 2006

David Ayer to Direct a "Mafia Cop"

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

David Ayer ("Harsh Times") has signed on to rewrite and direct "Mafia Cop" for Mandalay and Universal Pictures reports the trades.

The true-life story centers on highly decorated police officers Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa who participated in eight murders (three mafia-sponsored), two attempted murders, one murder conspiracy, money laundering, obstruction of justice and drug distribution from 1986 to 1990.

Eppolito and Caracappa were arrested in 2005 after retiring from police work. Eppolito's father was a member of Gotham's Gambino crime family and before his arrest, Eppolito tried his hand in acting in such films as "GoodFellas," "Bullets Over Broadway" and "Predator 2".

Ayer also wrote "Training Day" and the "Wild Bunch" remake "Cartel" which he is attached to direct. Dan Gordon penned the first draft of the 'Cop' screenplay.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Stool Pigeon in Mafia Cops Case Freed

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

The truth has set him free.

Stool pigeon Burton Kaplan, the key witness against mob cops Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, was sprung from prison yesterday after serving just over nine years of a 27-year sentence for dealing tons of marijuana.

Brooklyn federal Judge Jack Weinstein commuted the prison stint for Kaplan, who was the go-between for the ex-NYPD detectives and Luchese crime-family boss Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, as part of a deal for his cooperation. "His information led to the resolution of eight murder investigations," said prosecutor Robert Henoch, who had nothing but praise for the detailed information Kaplan, 72, offered - which Henoch said was "excruciatingly corroborated."

"His memory was astounding," Henoch said, noting that Kaplan helped investigators uncover evidence that the cops were acting as paid Mafia moles and hit men while wearing their shields.

Neither Kaplan's wife nor daughter, Manhattan state Supreme Court Judge Deborah Kaplan, were in court yesterday because Kaplan feared for their safety, according to his lawyer Michael Gold. "I know words cannot change my crimes," Kaplan told Weinstein. "My only concern was my own selfish motives of not wanting to get caught."

The judge released Kaplan, who pleaded guilty in March 2005 to charges stemming from the crooked cops' case, on $2 million bail while he awaits sentencing for those crimes.

Eppolito and Caracappa were convicted in April, but Weinstein overturned the jury conviction on a legal technicality. The pair are on 23-hour-a-day lockdown in a federal prison in Brooklyn while prosecutors appeal Weinstein's decision.

Thanks to Zach Haberman

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

Sunday, August 20, 2006

'Mafia Cops' Had No Right To Allegedly Decide Father's Fate Says Daughter

Friends of ours: Edward Lino, John "Dapper Don" Gotti, Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso
Friends of mine: Louis Eppolito, Stephen Caracappa, Gene Gotti

The case of former NYPD detectives Louis Eppolito and Steven Caracappa has seen many twists and turns, and now the daughter of a reputed mobster said the two so-called "Mafia Cops" had no right to allegedly play God with her father's life.

Danielle Lino's father, reputed mobster Edward Lino, was allegedly killed by rogue detectives, NewsChannel 4 reported. "Those two men had no right to just judge my father and to change my life. It was not for them to decide if he lived or died," Danielle Lino said.

Her quest has sparked a lawsuit seeking $100 million from city taxpayers for the 1990 shooting of her father. This is the latest twist in the ongoing saga of Eppolito and Caracappa, who are suspected of arranging eight hits for the mob.

The lawsuit claimed that authorities knew that the two detectives were "serving the interests of organized crime." "There was substantial evidence that the city as a result of which knew or should have known these guys were dirty, and they did nothing about it," said attorney Scott Charnas.

Investigators said they believe Edward Lino was close to John Gotti, boss of the Gambino crime family. Gotti's brother, Gene, and Edward Lino were charged in the 1980s with drug trafficking. Edward Lino was acquitted and he had no other convictions.

Danielle Lino, 27, a marketing executive, said she knows nothing about her father's alleged crimes. "That's not the man I know," Danielle Lino said.

Danielle Lino was 12 years old when her father was gunned down in his black Mercedes on the Belt Parkway. The father and daughter had spent the day with family in Brooklyn. She rode home to Long Island separately from her father, a choice that haunts her. She said she wonders if a little girl in his car might have stopped his killers. "I would love to think that I could have saved him, but I'm afraid to think what if I did go with him?" Danielle Lino said.

Danielle Lino said the focus should be on Eppolitto and Caracappa, who were allegedly paid to kill her father on the orders of mobster Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, NewsChannel 4 reported. "I don't have a father today because two New York City police detectives thought $65,000 was enough money to change my life. Is that fair?" Danielle Lino said.

The city declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The criminal case against the detectives, who maintain their innocence, remains up in the air. A federal jury had convicted the pair of arranging eight murders, including Edward Lino's, but the judge threw out that verdict on a technicality. Prosecutors are appealing.

Thanks to WNBC

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Mrs. Gotti Praises 'Mafia Cops" Judge

Friends of ours: John "Junior" Gotti, John "Dapper Don" Gotti, Gambino Crime Family, Ralph "Fat the Gangster" Eppolito, Jimmy "The Clam" Eppolito
Friends of mine:
Louis Eppolito, Stephen Caracappa

Brooklyn Federal Judge Jack Weinstein has a new unexpected fan: Victoria Gotti.
The matriarch of the Gotti clan wrote a letter to Weinstein, praising him for showing a "tremendous amount of courage" in knocking out the convictions of the "Mafia cops."

"I am a person that was totally, totally disillusioned with the justice system," Victoria Gotti wrote in an undated letter to Weinstein. "You have restored my hope that my own son may have a chance, or should I say a second chance at life."

The letter was entered into a court file yesterday.

Gotti has been silent since attending each day of her son John A. (Junior) Gotti's trial this winter, when he scored his second mistrial. Then she attacked a government witness who testified against her son, and defended her late husband, John (Dapper Don) Gotti, amid allegations that he'd fathered a love child.

She's expected back in court later this week for opening statements in a racketeering conspiracy case that centers on claims that Gotti, 42, ordered the assault on radio host Curtis Sliwa in 1992. "With two hung juries and a third trial in August, I am beyond [despondent]," Gotti said. "I continue to hope for a better day for him."

Mafia CopsLast month, Weinstein tossed out the federal murder convictions of Mafia cops Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa. In April a jury found that the former NYPD detectives participated in eight gangland slayings while still on the job. Weinstein ruled that the statute of limitations on the racketeering conspiracy had expired.

She began the letter by saying: "I want to applaud you on your decision in regard to the Eppolito and Caracappa case, it takes a tremendous amount of courage to do what you did."

"Those two men, Eppolito and Caracappa need to thank their lucky stars for your wisdom and fairness," Gotti wrote.

There happens to be a Gambino family connection with Eppolito: Two of his relatives, Ralph (Fat the Gangster) Eppolito and Jimmy (The Clam) Eppolito were Gambino family members.

Thanks to Thomas Zambito

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 27, 2006

Mafia Cop Trial Defense Was 'Excellent,' Judge Says

Friends of mine: Louis Eppolito, Stephen Caracappa

The Mafia Cops corruption case swerved yet again into the unforeseen — and the astonishing — as a federal judge angrily exonerated one defense lawyer of professional neglect even as he briefly threatened to arrest another for his absence from court.

The first decision by the judge, Jack B. Weinstein, effectively put to rest charges that the first lawyer, Bruce Cutler, had bungled the defense of his former client, Louis Eppolito, a retired New York detective. In April, only days after a jury found him guilty of at least eight murders for the mob, Mr. Eppolito accused Mr. Cutler of botching the job and subpoenaed him to appear in court in his own defense.

Mr. Cutler did just that, taking questions from Joseph Bondy, his old client's new lawyer, on everything from his courtroom style (the words "eviscerate" and "pulverize" came up) to his decision not to let his former client testify. If Mr. Eppolito had testified, the prosecution would have buried him in evidence, Mr. Cutler said. He added that he would have gone so far as to tackle Mr. Eppolito — no mean feat for a man with a 54-inch chest — rather than to let him take the stand.

Nonetheless, after two hours of intense interrogation, Judge Weinstein cut the hearing short, ruling that Mr. Cutler had not only put on a "professional" defense but that Mr. Eppolito's "immorality and lack of credibility" had led him "to ignore his testimony on any point." The immediate result of this was that Mr. Cutler — surprised but apparently much relieved — got to go home, more or less unscathed, on what could have been a brutal day in Federal District Court in Brooklyn.

Momentum for the hearing had been rising since the day that Mr. Eppolito told the press that Mr. Cutler had "abandoned" him and filed a motion for a new trial. Beyond a glance into Mr. Cutler's methods ("After the government's case is eviscerated," he explained, "I sum up and then I win"), the hearing was rather tame. Judge Weinstein was unimpressed enough by Mr. Bondy's arguments that he said he saw no need for the government to cross-examine Mr. Cutler — in essence saying that its point (that Mr. Cutler was, in fact, a fine lawyer) had already been made.

Mr. Eppolito, along with his co-defendant, Stephen Caracappa, were trying to prove that they deserved new trials based on the issue of inadequate representation, among others. While Judge Weinstein rejected Mr. Eppolito's motion for a new trial based on the representation grounds, he has not ruled on the former detective's other motions. It was also unclear how today's ruling would affect Mr. Caracappa's case against his defense lawyer, Eddie Hayes.

On Friday, Mr. Eppolito testified for the first time since his case originally went to court. He assaulted Mr. Cutler's reputation, saying that although he had paid the lawyer a $250,000 retainer, Mr. Cutler had never fully explained to him the charges in the case and had refused to work through lunch.

In fact, he said, Mr. Cutler not only refused four times to let him take the stand, he refused to speak with him at all. "Tell him he's annoying me," Mr. Eppolito quoted Mr. Cutler as having told a colleague one day. This was within earshot of the client, who said he had answered, "I'm not deaf."

Mr. Eppolito's testimony made it evident why Mr. Cutler had kept him off the witness stand during the trial. Mr. Eppolito revealed himself to be a man with a tangential relation to reality — who, in one breath, said he wanted to attack a man with a hatchet and in the next proclaimed, "I'm not a violent guy."

In a particularly odd moment, Mr. Eppolito swore — in open court and on penalty of perjury — that he would have no trouble lying, none at all, if he thought it would help his case.

It was perfectly in keeping with the hearing that the chief investigator for the case came around to his adversary's point of view.

"I hate to agree with Cutler," the investigator said, referring to Mr. Eppolito, , "but this guy should be nowhere near the stand."

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

Saturday, June 10, 2006

The Badge Still Shines

Friends of ours: Al Capone
Friends of mine: Louis Eppolito, Steven Caracappa


The shock and disappointment over the two New York detectives who sold their homicidal services to the Mafia is no more than a lot of hooey.

Louis Eppolito and Steve Caracappa - the two convicted "mob cops" - do not represent the NYPD, they represent that special community of criminals who submit to greed and corruption.

I recently read about the gang wars of Chicago in the 1920s. I was surprised by what Al Capone said of a city prosecutor who had been accidentally killed by mob assassins as he was leaving a speakeasy. Why would he have had the man killed, Capone asked. He went on to say that he had paid the prosecutor a pile of money and had gotten his money's worth. The deceased prosecutor was highly regarded for having sent a number of gangland soldiers to the electric chair. The public of Chicago, tired of the mob wars, had great faith in him only to find out that their man had been another Capone employee tattooed by the greasy stains of graft.

Gangsters are always on the lookout for their own double agents. These have to be people ready to accept pay for revealing information about police investigations and, if full of enough ice and moxie, who also will kill.

Sometimes, the degree of corruption is extremely large and the willingness to abuse power seems unlimited. In fact, when I arrived in New York from the spiritual dust bowl of Los Angeles 30 years ago, it was easy to do or see many things. Some cops could be bribed out of giving a citation for a traffic offense. Or some cops were seen being too chummy on Bleecker St. during the holiday season when their rounds included picking up gifts from mob-owned joints. Oh, yeah.

But there is also the hard, irrefutable fact that crime has been reduced steadily over the past 11 years and the effect on communities such as Harlem has been remarkable. Harlem has now moved out of the slum category to become a full member of the real estate boom, which guarantees refurbishing. Neighborhoods which cab drivers used to avoid for fear of being robbed or wounded or killed are now traveled to with a feeling of veritable impunity. Compared with the reigns of terror that urban street gangs impose across the country, the thug variations of groups like the Crips remain largely low-key in our town.

Does that mean that New York is really heaven in disguise? Far from it. New York is still the capital of overwork that makes long distance sprinters of all of us. We all move far too fast for the lengths that we have to travel, but we travel those miles with a feeling of safety that makes New York the most comfortable and fulfilling version of soul and pressure in urban America. The people and their spirit are largely responsible for making this city feel that way.

But the underpaid army of professional urban soldiers and protectors we know as the New York Police Department cannot be accused of failing to hold up its end because two of them were mob hit men. The overwhelming bulk of the force sustains the fundamental identity of the job, which is this: Law enforcement is one of the three noblest of professions dedicated to community service, equal in importance to education and medicine.

We know that determined criminals can come from any class, ethnic group, religion, gender or profession.

Still, for all that it suffers, the New York Police Department is the sort of light always willing to fight the darkness.

Thanks to Stanley Crouch

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

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Mop Cop Will Make Case for Poor Defense

Friends of ours: John "Dapper Don" Gotti
Friends of mine: Louis Eppolito, Stephen Carappa

Mob cop Louis Eppolito will be allowed to air his gripes about his flashy former lawyer Bruce Cutler - who he says defended him poorly at his murder trial.

At the convicted killer's request, Brooklyn federal Judge Jack Weinstein ordered lawyers back into court June 29 to hash out the matter, including Cutler. "Defense counsel spent the majority of Mr. Eppolito's closing argument speaking about himself, including [that] he lost 14 pounds during trial," new lawyer Joseph Bondy said in a court document.

The ostentatious lawyer and client parted ways in late April after the conviction. Eppolito and Cutler had even argued about the defense, which lasted about 12 minutes.

Cutler, who also defended late mob boss "Dapper Don" John Gotti, didn't respond to a request for comment yesterday.

The hearing is unlikely to have an impact on whether Weinstein will throw out the conviction, because the judge has already hinted strongly that he would let an appeals court decide the matter. The murder conviction could be reversed due to statute-of-limitations considerations.

Eppolito and fellow mob cop Stephen Caracappa are to be sentenced on May 22. The pair face life in the slammer.

The two were convicted of committing a slew of gangland slayings in the late '80s and early '90s while wearing their shields, as well as dealing drugs in Las Vegas in 2004.

Thanks to Heidi Singer

Friday, May 05, 2006

Judge: Basis for Appeal in 'Mafia Cops' Trial

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


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

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

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

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

Monday, May 01, 2006

Mafia Cop Reportedly Can't Afford New Lawyer

Friends of mine: Stephen Caracappa, Louis Eppolito

Convicted Mafia cop Stephen Caracappa is broke and can't afford to hire a new lawyer, according to a published report. The former Great Kills resident is $250,000 in debt, according to court papers filed this week, the Daily News reported.

Caracappa is also reportedly unhappy with his representation. In a letter to Federal Judge Jack Weinstein, Dominick Caracappa, Stephen's brother, wrote that "the defense attorneys failed to address" the defendants' relationship with members of the mob.

Caracappa's attorney Edward Hayes, who is not owed money by Caracappa, told the Daily News that his client "needs a fresh look at the case and someone who can knock me if that's what the appeal needs."

Caracappa and his former partner Louis Eppolito were convicted earlier this month of being hit men for the Mafia and face life in prison without a chance of parole when sentenced.

Thanks to Staten Island Advance

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