Bad cops, in fact, really bad cops
2 former N.Y. cops charged as Mafia hit men
Friday, March 11, 2005 Posted: 9:46 AM EST (1446 GMT)
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Two former New York City police detectives face a federal court hearing in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Friday after being indicted on murder charges for allegedly acting as hit men for the Mafia more than 20 years ago.
According to the indictment from a federal grand jury in Brooklyn that was unsealed Thursday, Stephen Caracappa and Louis Eppolito routinely passed confidential law enforcement information to the mob and killed rival gangsters.
The indictment alleges that the men's association with organized crime began in the early 1980s, when they started passing along information to high-ranking members and associates of the Luchese crime family, disclosing the identities of numerous cooperating witnesses and compromising several state and federal investigations.
Caracappa was a member of the New York Police Department's Organized Crime Homicide Unit, which he helped found. In his duties, he filled the role of gatekeeper for information about Mafia killings,The Associated Press reported.
Roslynn Mauskopf, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, described the men's actions as "a stunning betrayal of their shields, their colleagues and the citizens they were sworn to protect.
"For years, they were on retainer with the mob, they were paid handsomely for participating directly and indirectly in the murders and attempted murders of 11 individuals."
Among the charges against Caracappa and Eppolito are eight murders, two attempted murders and murder conspiracy.
Both men were placed on the payroll of Luchese family underboss Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso in 1987 and received $4,000 a month for acting as moles, prosecutors allege. In 1992, Caracappa and Eppolito accepted a $65,000 contract to eliminate Eddie Lino, a Gambino family captain whom Casso believed was involved in an attempt on his life, the indictment says.
Prosecutors also accuse Caracappa and Eppolito of having a role in the murders of three other men Casso believed tried to kill him. The duo also is charged in other killings.
Eppolito is the author of a book titled "Mafia Cop." In the autobiography, he describes how he turned away from the "family business" to become what he described as one of the police department's most-decorated officers.
Eppolito has had small roles in several films, including the 1990 mob feature "GoodFellas" in which he played "Fat Andy."
According to federal investigators, the former detectives still have mob ties.
New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said, "this shocking, disgraceful conduct demands prosecution to the fullest extent of the law."
Caracappa and Eppolito are each charged with eight murders, two attempted murders, one murder conspiracy, obstruction of justice, drug distribution and money laundering, according to a written statement issued by the U.S. attorney's office, Kings County district attorney's office, Drug Enforcement Administration and FBI.
If convicted, they could face a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Caracappa and Eppolito were charged with drug distribution and money laundering in Las Vegas, where they were arrested Wednesday night. They retired to Las Vegas several years ago.
For more than 10 years, authorities had suspected the men of Mafia involvement but lacked evidence. According to court documents, prosecutors obtained witness testimony and wiretapped conversations to make their case, the AP reported.
The pair had a federal court appearance in Las Vegas on Thursday, the AP reported. They did not enter pleas, and the hearing was postponed until Friday, the AP said.
Caracappa's lawyer David Chesnoff, speaking Thursday outside the court, said the government was using "organized crime figures who are trying to save their lives" to build their case. "The government is relying on the words of rats," he said in an AP report.
CNN's Marie Lora contributed to this report.
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