NY police were mafia hitmen

Two highly decorated former New York detectives have been convicted of moonlighting as hitmen for the mafia in one of the most sensational cases of police corruption in the city's history.

    Eppolito (R) and Caracappa (L) could face life in jail

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

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

    Prosecutors said the two men carried out two hits themselves - after pulling the victims over in traffic stops - and delivered up some of the other victims to the Mafia to be killed.

    Neither defendant showed any emotion during the 10 minutes it took the jury forewoman to reply "proven" 70 times to the racketeering acts they were accused of. The verdict was reached after two days of deliberations.

    The defendants' $5 million bail was revoked and they were led off to jail to await sentencing May 22. The men's lawyers said they will appeal.

    "[T]he bloodiest, most violent betrayal of the badge this city has ever seen"

    Daniel Wenner,
    US federal prosecutor

    "It's an appearance of justice, but it's not justice," said Bruce Cutler, who once represented John Gotti and put on a thundering defense for Eppolito, claiming the government's mob witnesses were lying to save their necks.

    Prosecutors said the two used their law enforcement positions to help the Mafia at a price of $4,000 per month - more if they personally handled a killing. They earned $65,000 for one of those slayings, prosecutors said.

    'Crystal ball'

    The case cast a shadow over the
    police department's reputation

    The two officers also supplied Casso with inside information on law enforcement interest in the mob, prosecutors said. Casso was said to have referred to the two men as his "crystal ball."

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

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

    In his autobiography, "Mafia Cop", he portrayed himself as an honest cop from a crooked family.

    Eppolito also played a bit part in the Hollywood mafia movie "GoodFellas" and, after retiring in 1990, he unsuccessfully tried his hand at Hollywood scriptwriting.

    The former detectives insisted on their innocence from the time of their arrests in March 2005, but neither took the stand at their trial.

    SOURCE: AFP


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