Partners In Crime: The Mafia Cops
By J. R. de Szigethy
They are the Universal symbol of Evil; wherever one roams across the Earth, into whatever region, country, or culture, the one true constant of all peoples is that Evil is represented by one animal; the snake. Humans considered to be Evil are often compared to snakes, such as Carmine "The Snake" Persico, the imprisoned-for-life Godfather of the Colombo Mafia Family of New York.
The arrest of ‘Mafia Cops’ Lou Eppolito and his partner Stephen Caracappa on a variety of charges, including complicity in murders, drug trafficking, and racketeering has shocked most those who have known the two former cops the longest. While Caracappa has been described as ‘quiet’ and ‘unassuming,’ Eppolito is the charismatic, warm, funny, ‘larger-than-life’ cop-turned-actor who can instantly win over someone with just the sound of his voice.
However; to those in law enforcement who have been doggedly pursuing Eppolito since the 1980s, such a persona is simply a mask that betrays the Evil and greed that drove the decorated former NYPD Detective to run drugs and commit murder. Members of the Media, many of whom were taken in by Eppolito’s charm have, since his arrest been searching for some tell-tale sign that all is not what it seems with the decorated, self-described "Mafia Cop." One such troubling aspect of Eppolito’s personality is his fascination with snakes. For years the cop kept snakes as pets. Eppolito has often been criticized by some for his excessive display of flashy jewelry, a stereotypical behavior of many wiseguys of the American Mafia. One piece of jewelry Eppolito has prized over the years has been his ring adorned with the head of a serpent. While none of this proves anything, and it is not illegal to keep snakes, it is still disturbing to some that a member of law enforcement would choose the symbol of Evil and Deception to embrace on his body and in his home.
Nor is what Eppolito did to two senior citizens a crime; both women have complained to the Media since his arrest that Eppolito accepted thousands of dollars from them in exchange for the promise that he would write their life stories and get them produced as motion pictures, promises that did not materialize. One such is Minnesota resident Jane McCormick, who in her early years hung out with Hollywood’s ‘rat pack’ as a Casino hostess in Las Vegas. McCormick gave Eppolito $45,000 to write the screenplay about her life, "I Never Met A Stranger." McCormick even got a tour of Eppolito’s opulent Las Vegas home, where she witnessed the numerous photographs of Eppolito with various Hollywood celebrities. Eppolito also showed to McCormick an instrument of death that Eppolito cherishes but the senior found disturbing; his gold-plated revolver. When asked if she saw any pet snakes, McCormick tells AmericanMafia.com: "The only snake I saw turned out to be Louie Eppolito!"
Federal Prosecutors in Brooklyn are less concerned about Eppolito’s snakes and are focusing on something more admissible in a Court of Law: the alleged admission by Eppolito on a secret recording taped just last December that he knew former Gambino Family Godfather John Gotti. This new information was only made available to the public just days before the two accused ‘Mafia Cops’ were arraigned in Brooklyn.
Was Eppolito lying when he made this alleged claim, was he exaggerating, or did he in fact have some sort of relationship with John Gotti? What is it, Prosecutors want to know, that Eppolito did for Godfather Gotti? Perhaps equally important to them is the time frame; did Lou Eppolito become associated with Gotti BEFORE the 1985 murder of Gambino Godfather Paul Castellano, or AFTER?
The reason the answer to this question is important is because Eppolito, like John Gotti and Sammy "The Bull" Gravano, had a strong motive to see Paul Castellano dead. That motive stems from the fact that Godfather Castellano ordered the murders of Eppolito’s beloved Uncle "Jimmy the Clam" Eppolito and his son, "Jim-Jim."
This story begins in the late 1970s. Lou Eppolito is blazing through a spectacular career as a flamboyant member of the New York City Police Department. The tabloid newspapers of New York reveled in detailing the hard-nosed cop’s exploits, portraying Eppolito as a variation of John Wayne and ‘Dirty Harry’ walking the streets of the Big Apple wearing the uniform and badge of the NYPD. Eppolito was seen as on a mission to protect ordinary citizens from the thieves and drug dealers that with each passing year were becoming more violent.
Officer Eppolito’s Uncle Jimmy The Clam and his son "Jim-Jim" at this time are earning a good living through their various rackets, which includes gambling. Both men are ‘Made’ members of the Gambino Family, which means they have murdered others to attain this status. Both men have pledged allegiance - not to the flag of the United States, but to Gambino Family Godfather Paul Castellano.
At that time Paul Castellano was at the height of his power and influence; he lived in a mansion called the "White House" on Staten Island’s ‘Todt Hill,’ so named by early Dutch settlers, which means "Death Hill." Castellano controlled one of the largest Mafia families in America, the Gambino Family. The Gambinos are into everything; hijacking trucks and fencing the stolen goods; drug trafficking; credit card rip-offs; a stolen car ring; the production and distribution of pornography, including child pornography; murder for hire. And the Gambinos, along with the Genovese Family, maintain iron-clad control over the corrupt labor Unions that dominate the New York economy; construction, the docks on the waterfront; shipping and trucking; the garment industry; waste management; restaurants and hotels. In 1978 Godfather Castellano must have beamed with pride when a member of his Family, a corrupt Union leader, stood next to President Jimmy Carter during a labor Union rally in New York.
It was the labor Unions of New York, Boston, and Chicago that had helped Jimmy Carter get elected President in 1976. The country at that time, weary from the excesses of the Watergate scandal of the Nixon Administration, had turned to the little-known Southern Governor for new leadership. By 1979, however, what had begun as a promising, new era in American history had turned into what many regarded as a nightmare. Upon arriving in Washington, one of President Carter’s first actions was to decimate America’s intelligence community, with long-lasting repercussions worldwide. When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, Carter’s response was to threaten that unless the Soviets removed their troops he would not allow American athletes to compete in the 1980 Olympic Games to be held in Moscow. When Cuban Dictator Fidel Castro dumped thousands of his most violent criminals and mentally ill citizens onto the shores of America in the infamous ‘Mariel boat lift,’ President Carter took no action, much to the dismay of our nation’s law enforcement community. For the last 444 days of his Presidency, Carter allowed the most powerful nation in the world to be humiliated as Islamic Fundamentalists in Tehran held 52 Americans hostage.
As Carter’s Presidency was failing, his wife, First Lady Rosalynn Carter became involved in her own public relations nightmare, a bizarre sequence of events during which a hostile Media published a succession of photographs of Mrs. Carter in the company of vicious murderers, one of whom was "Jim-Jim" Eppolito. By the time the scandal had run it’s course, the Carter Administration would become the target of ridicule and satire by members of the Media, as well as fodder for comedians and late-night talk show hosts. And, two members of the Eppolito family would wind up dead.
The first such embarrassing incident involving Rosalynn Carter came in November, 1978 and it involved a Preacher who was active in Democratic politics in San Francisco. During a 1976 campaign event Mrs. Carter had shared a platform and dined with the Reverend Jim Jones, an avowed Communist who had been appointed Director of the Housing Authority by San Francisco Mayor George Moscone. By 1978, however, Reverend Jones had relocated his Congregation to a plantation in Guyana, South America, where the flamboyant Minister began to preach a doctrine that advocated mass suicide as a means of bringing about global Socialism. It would later be learned that Jones had taken action to have the $7 million in the Church’s bank accounts bequeathed to the Soviet Communist Party. When Democratic Congressman Leo Ryan learned of the Reverend Jones’ bizarre new rhetoric he set off on a fact-finding tour of ‘Jonestown’ to speak to some its members, most of whom were constituents of his Congressional District back home. On November 18th, 1978 members of Jones’ cult murdered the Congressman and Reverend Jones then ordered the members of his Congregation to commit suicide. Most of the 900 men, women, and children in the cult complied by consuming a children’s drink laced with cyanide. Those who did not quite possess such Revolutionary zeal were murdered.
The government of Guyana reacted to this shocking event by releasing copies of letters by top U. S. officials praising Reverend Jones and his Church, this to counter public opinion worldwide that Guyana had allowed into it’s borders "a bunch of crazies." A spokesman for the government told the Media that "the Reverend Jones presented references of the highest caliber!" The Guyanese government released glowing tributes to Reverend Jones from Americans including President Carter’s Vice-President Walter Mondale, former Vice-President Hubert Humphrey, Joseph A. Califano, Jr., Carter’s Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson of Washington State and Senator Mike Gravel of Alaska, Congressman Phillip Burton of California and Congressman Jonathan Bingham of New York, former New York Congresswoman Bella Abzug, San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and his predecessor Joseph Alioto, and Rosalynn Carter, the First Lady of the United States of America.(1)
Mrs. Carter’s letter to the Reverend Jim Jones was hand-written on White House stationary, in which she promised to relay to her husband Reverend Jones’ plea in a previous letter to her asking that the Carter Administration provide humanitarian aid to the Communist government of Fidel Castro. Back in the United States, the Media dug up a photograph of Mrs. Carter embracing the Reverend Jones, much to the delight of Republicans eager to see the Carter Administration embarrassed.
Just days after the ‘Jonestown Massacre,’ Democrats, most notably those in the San Francisco area, were rocked by another shocking event, when a Democratic member of the San Francisco City Council, Dan White, murdered Mayor Moscone and Harvey Milk, a local gay activist. Gays would later riot in the streets of San Francisco, overturning police cars and setting fires, after a jury acquitted White of the most serious charges against him, this after his lawyer argued that White’s murderous rage was caused by a bad reaction to his ingestion of a Hostess Twinkie. Dan White would later commit suicide.
Two weeks after the murder of Mayor Moscone, Democrats were hit with another embarrassing event, when authorities arrested a Chicago resident who was active in local Democratic Party activities. John Wayne Gacy would eventually be executed for murdering 33 young men, most of whom were found buried underneath his house, the same home at which Gacy had hosted events for the local Democratic Party. After Gacy’s arrest, the Media distributed a photo of First Lady Rosalynn Carter shaking hands with Gacy during a campaign stop in Chicago.
With these bizarre events and disclosures coming within the space of just a few weeks of each other, comics across America were having a field day ridiculing the Carters. Making matters worse was the fact that when the Carters first came to the Washington they brought a convicted murderer, Mary Fitzpatrick, into the White House to work as a Nanny to their young daughter Amy.
Then, a few months later came the 60 MINUTES story that exposed a fraudulent children’s charity scam run by "Jim-Jim" Eppolito that had ensnared both Mrs. Carter and Massachusetts Senator Teddy Kennedy. Broadcast on national television for all the world to see was a photograph of the First Lady of the United States, Rosalynn Carter, shaking hands with yet another murderer, "Jim-Jim" Eppolito.
Eppolito’s Godfather Paul Castellano was not pleased. What had been Mrs. Carter’s public relations nightmare was now his as well. Castellano, who owned politicians and Union leaders the way some people owned pet dogs, understood the political ramifications of what could come of this scandal. There would certainly be a law enforcement investigation into the charity scam that Jimmy Eppolito had run. If the case went to trial it would turn into a ‘media circus,’ especially if the First Lady of the United States was called to testify as to how she had been innocently drawn into the scam. Pious Republicans in Washington would demand their own investigation, the sole purpose of which would be to further embarrass the Administration they desperately wished to see replaced the next year with one of their own.
The only way to stop this was to remove Jimmy Eppolito from the face of the Earth.
In his auto-biography ‘Mafia Cop’ Lou Eppolito bragged about his ability to arrange a ‘sit-down’ with Godfather Castellano and specifically mentions the events surrounding the murders of his Uncle and cousin. What Eppolito does not go into detail about is the apparent orchestration of these murders. Given that Detective Eppolito was a ‘darling’ of the New York City Media, Castellano and his associates must have known that the murder of Jimmy Eppolito would be a front-page story, exactly the publicity the Gambinos did not want. Thus, the evidence suggests that the decision was made to take Jimmy Eppolito and his father out on a day when the Media - as well as law enforcement - would be distracted by some other ‘big event.’
That ‘big event’ was the arrival in New York of the enormously popular Pope John Paul II. The Pope had been scheduled to address the United Nations and lead two outdoor Masses on October 2nd and 3rd. In the early morning hours of October 2, 1979, Lou Eppolito was awakened by a phone call. By his own admission, Eppolito exploded into fury at the news that his Uncle and cousin had been murdered. Eppolito’s rage was further fueled during his examination of their bodies at the Morgue; both men’s faces had been blown off by their assassins, who shot them numerous times at close range inside a car.
Eppolito left the Morgue in order to join the thousands of New York cops assigned to provide security for the Pope during his visit. The Pope’s visit had turned into a Media frenzy. On a ‘slow news day’ the murder of two Mafia wiseguys - relatives of a decorated Police Officer who himself was a ‘Media favorite’ - would have been front-page news. Instead, the story was eclipsed by coverage of the Pope’s visit. In the days following the murders the Daily News did not even report on the story, while the Post ran one short blurb buried on page 15.
This was exactly the way Godfather Castellano wanted it. And, if as a consequence of removing this embarrassing ‘problem,’ another name was added to the growing list of men who wanted Castellano dead, that name being that of Detective Lou Eppolito, the Gambino Godfather probably shrugged off the matter as just the cost of doing ‘business.’
Trouble for the Godfather, however, was just beginning. President Jimmy Carter was defeated in his re-election bid in 1980, an event that would have enormous repercussions for the American Mafia. The new President, Ronald Reagan, owed nothing to the mobbed-up Unions that had supported Carter. Much of President Reagan’s agenda had its roots in his tenure as President of a labor Union many years earlier. That Union was the Screen Actors’ Guild in Hollywood, and from his experience as President of that Union, Reagan witnessed first-hand the pervasive influence of both Communists and organized crime in labor Unions. To fight Communism abroad, President Reagan formed an alliance with his counter-part in England, Margaret Thatcher, and the new anti-Communist Pope, John Paul II.
To combat the American Mafia, President Reagan appointed William French Smith as his Attorney General. Appointed to the number 3 position within the Justice Department was a young attorney from New York named Rudolph Giuliani. That position put Giuliani in charge of all of the U. S. Attorneys across the country. In 1983 Giuliani accepted his own demotion to that of U. S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Giuliani felt he could make more of an impact on organized crime by prosecuting members of New York's Five Mafia families utilizing the provisions of the RICO Act of 1970.
The "Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act" had been passed by Congress to add substantial prison sentences to those who commit crimes as members of criminal enterprises such as the American Mafia. However, the Attorney General at that time, John Mitchell, was himself a criminal, who would later be sent to prison for the crimes he committed in the ‘Watergate Affair.’ His boss, President Nixon, would later resign in disgrace and his successors, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, did not push for utilizing the potential of the RICO statutes to combat organized crime.
In Rudolph Giuliani, President Reagan found someone who would at last wield this weapon granted to law enforcement a full decade earlier. Giuliani soon racked up one of the most impressive records of prosecutions of Mafia figures in United States history. Among these was 1986's "Commission Trial" in which top associates of all five New York Mafia families were convicted, as well as the infamous "Pizza Connection" drug trafficking trial.
While Giuliani was targeting Godfather Castellano, Lou Eppolito also found himself in trouble with the law. In 1983, authorities raided the home of a heroin dealer, Rosario Gambino, an Associate of the Gambino Family who was a distant relative of Detective Eppolito. Inside Gambino’s home, authorities claimed they found copies of law enforcement files on Gambino that clearly had to come from a ‘mole’ inside law enforcement. An investigation was undertaken and four New York City cops - all Italian-American, were identified as suspects. Lou Eppolito emerged as the primary suspect and authorities claimed that his fingerprints were on one of the papers.
Eppolito fought back, claiming he was being set-up by the FBI. To the average American, such a claim might be immediately dismissed, given the reputation the FBI had at that time. For members of law enforcement, however, they knew better; many members of America’s law enforcement community had witnessed first-hand the corruption within the FBI in which fabricated evidence, altered and planted evidence, and ‘testi-lying’ by FBI agents were rampant within an organization that had been established by the demented and criminal founder, J. Edgar Hoover.
Eppolito’s claim of being framed gained credibility when, at the 11th hour, red-faced officials had to concede that the documents seized in Gambino’s home did not actually have Eppolito’s fingerprints on them, but were rather PHOTOCOPIES of documents Eppolito had once handled. Thus, according to the authorities’ scenario, Eppolito would have had to handle these documents he had previously reviewed wearing gloves while he photocopied them, this to protect himself in the unlikely event the documents would somehow later find themselves in the hands of members of law enforcement. This scenario seemed much more outlandish than Eppolito’s claims of having been framed, and the Judge in Eppolito’s Departmental Trial acquitted him of all charges. While Eppolito’s reputation had been tarnished, he still walked the streets of New York wearing a Badge and carrying a gun.
Eppolito’s associate Paul Castellano would not be so lucky. First, Rudolph Giuliani hit the Gambino Godfather with numerous indictments, alleging murders, including those of James Eppolito Sr. and Jr., racketeering, drug trafficking, prostitution, extortion, bribery, and auto theft, among other charges. Castellano would not live to face such charges. On December 16, 1985 Godfather Castellano left his Todt Hill home in the company of his driver, Thomas Bilotti. When the two men pulled up in front of Sparks Steak House in Manhattan they were quickly blown away by a four-man hit team, including a heroin dealer named Eddie Lino.
This is where the story gets interesting in light of recent disclosures. What were the mechanics by which Lou Eppolito contacted Godfather Castellano whenever he requested a ‘sit-down’ or audience with the Gambino Godfather? The likely scenario would have Detective Eppolito contacting his Uncle or cousin to set-up such a meeting. (This, of course, during the time before both were murdered by Castellano.)
However, a recent report in the New York Daily News alleges that Eppolito’s partner, Stephen Caracappa, was a childhood friend of Thomas Bilotti. Caracappa is charged as the triggerman in the sensational, public murder of Eddie Lino, and the News suggested Caracappa’s willingness to murder Lino was an act of retaliation against Lino. This may in fact turn out to be the case, but this new information suggests an alternative method for Detective Eppolito to communicate with Godfather Castellano; instead of going through his Uncle or cousin, could not Eppolito contact the Godfather through his partner Caracappa, who would then contact his life-long friend Thomas Bilotti? The answer to this question can only be adequately explored if it can be determined when Eppolito became associated with John Gotti; BEFORE the murder of Paul Castellano, or AFTER.
At any rate, it was not a ‘slow news day’ on the day Paul Castellano went down and the murder of the Gambino Godfather was front-page news. John Gotti wanted it that way, and overnight a ‘star’ was born - that of John Gotti as a Godfather ‘superstar,’ a celebrity who sought to please his "public" through the Media, openly strutting around New York in his thousand-dollar suits. The Media loved it; John Gotti sold newspapers. Somehow forgotten in this mix was the fact that the Gambino Family continued to victimize America’s most vulnerable citizens, the children that were poisoned by the drugs the Gotti gang peddled, as well as by the production and distribution of child pornography.
And, the dead bodies began to pile up. In April, 1986, John Gotti’s Underboss, Frank DeCicco, a conspirator in the plot against Castellano, was murdered when a bomb blew up the car he had entered into, a car that Gotti himself was scheduled to climb into at some point that day. Suspicion by law enforcement centered on Genovese Family Godfather Vincent "Chin" Gigante, whom it was believed was seeking to kill all those who murdered Castellano without "permission" from the ‘Commission,’ the ruling body of New York’s five Mafia families.
This Mafia hit was soon followed by one that did not succeed, in which members of the Gambino Family ambushed Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, the Underboss of the Luchese Mafia Family. Authorities believe that by this time Eppolito and Caracappa were already providing information to Casso. Gaspipe knew the identity of one of those who tried to kill him, a Staten Island resident named James Hydell. Casso allegedly contracted out to the two Mafia cops to bring Hydell in. Authorities claim that the two cops ‘arrested’ Hydell, but instead of taking him to the nearest stationhouse, the two rogue cops turned him over to Casso.
Gaspipe then took the bound young man to a house in Brooklyn. In the basement of the house, Gaspipe brutally tortured the hitman to make him reveal the names of his accomplices in the failed hit on him. Gaspipe would eventually be kicked out of the Witness Protection Program for telling lies and when an interview he gave to 60 MINUTES was finally aired recently, Gaspipe could not resist lying to correspondent Ed Bradley as to how he murdered Hydell. Gaspipe at first claimed he only shot Hydell 2 times and did not torture him, but upon prodding from Bradley Casso finally admitted to shooting his victim as many as 12 times. James Hydell’s body has not been found.
Hydell was just one of 36 people Gaspipe Casso has confessed to murdering. Before he died, Hydell gave up the names of his accomplices. One was that of a Gambino Associate whom Gaspipe was not familiar with. His name was Nicholas Guido and all Gaspipe knew was that he lived somewhere in Brooklyn. The Feds allege that Gaspipe paid Caracappa to utilize NYPD computer records to find out where Guido lived. What Caracappa came up with, according to the Feds, was the address of one ‘Nicholas Guido’ in the Bay Ridge area of Brooklyn, a mobbed-up neighborhood overlooking the Verrazano Bridge.
On Christmas Day, 1986 a 26 year old resident named Nicholas Guido was showing off to his Uncle his new car. Suddenly, a man with a gun approached the car, blasting 9 bullets through the shattered windshield. Young Nicholas acted as a hero, throwing his body over his Uncle in order to save his life. While Guido died a hero’s death, authorities investigating the murder concluded that it was a Mafia hit. They were right, but the murdered victim was not involved in organized crime; the ‘Nicholas Guido’ that Gaspipe was looking for lived a few blocks away. Caracappa had given Gaspipe the address of the wrong man.
Despite this sloppy work on the part of the two Mafia Cops which resulted in the death of an innocent young man, Gaspipe Casso continued to solicit information from the two corrupt cops to murder those Casso considered his enemies, the Feds allege. In May, 1990 James Bishop, the former head of a corrupt Union in New York City, was found dead in his car. The Feds believe that the two Mafia Cops had communicated to Gaspipe their belief that Bishop was going to testify for the Feds in a labor racketeering case.
Another murder attributed to the Mafia Cops was that of Eddie Lino. The consensus in law enforcement seems to be this; Prosecutors during that time such as Rudolph Giuliani were having unprecedented success utilizing the RICO laws to put away members of the American Mafia. Assisting the Feds in this new assault on organized crime was a new phenomenon; the use of a turncoat Mafia associate as a Prosecution Witness.
One of the Feds’ best witnesses was "Big Ange" Lonardo, who, as the former Underboss of the Cleveland Mafia Family was the highest-ranking turncoat mobster up to that time. Lonardo’s testimony had been instrumental in rendering the Cleveland Mafia Family extinct and was a key witness in "The Commission" trial. Thus, the climate amongst Mafia associates at that time was to distrust members of their own Mafia Family whom they thought might ‘flip’ and bring them down.
Gaspipe Casso turned out to be one of the more paranoid of the high-ranking Mafia associates in terms of targeting those suspected of turning government informant. Most of the 36 people Gaspipe murdered were those Casso had suspected - rightly or wrongly - of co-operating or potentially co-operating with the Feds. In the case of John Gotti, one person the Godfather believed to a be a potential ‘rat’ was Eddie Lino. By this time Lino had become completely addicted to the heroin that he pushed to the youngsters of America. Some authorities believe that Gotti wanted Lino taken out, but, recognizing that the wily Lino, a hitman himself, would be a hard target given that he knew all of the Gambino hitmen, Gotti ‘farmed out’ the Contract on Lino to Gaspipe.
Eddie Lino, it was believed, would not pull his car over for anyone he recognized. However, if confronted by two unknown men flashing badges in an unmarked police car, an unsuspecting Lino would likely at least slow down and pull to the side. Such a scenario is what witnesses described to police on the night when Eddie Lino was gunned down while driving his new Mercedes Benz along the Belt Parkway near Coney Island.
Were the two murderers indeed members of law enforcement? Were the two indeed, as the Feds charge, Eppolito and Caracappa?
Both men, it now turns out, had motivations to pull off this daring public murder. In Caracappa’s case, killing Lino would be retribution against the man who killed his alleged longtime pal Thomas Bilotti. Caracappa is charged as the triggerman in the Lino murder. In Eppolito’s case, while technically working for Gaspipe, who would pay both men handsomely for committing this murder, Eppolito would also be performing a ‘service’ for Gambino Family Godfather John Gotti. If, by this point, Eppolito had not yet met John Gotti, after the Lino hit Gotti certainly had a reason to at least meet with the cop and, no doubt tacitly, express his appreciation.
There is yet another possibility; back in 1979 Caracappa may have ‘turned’ on Bilotti when his partner and mentor Eppolito wished death upon Castellano for murdering Eppolito’s Uncle and cousin. Again, exactly what transpired in these cases cannot be fully known until it is determined at what point Eppolito became associated with John Gotti.
When the allegations by Gaspipe against the two Mafia cops were first made public, many, in both law enforcement and the Media, simply did not believe Casso, who obviously is a murderous psychopath. Casso was soon dropped as a Prosecution Witness for the various lies he told the Feds. Although Casso claimed that his associate Burton Kaplan could corroborate much of what he was alleging, Kaplan did not ‘flip’ in 1997 when convicted on drug trafficking and racketeering charges that would send him to prison for the rest of his natural life.
Only when Kaplan was alleged to have confronted his own mortality did he tell the Feds what they presumably wanted to hear about the two accused ‘Mafia Cops.’ In addition to the numerous murders the two cops are charged with, authorities have found the body of a man they believe to be a missing diamond merchant that Kaplan allegedly is pinning on Eppolito and Caracappa. The two have not yet been charged with this murder and are named as suspects in other crimes not yet charged, according to media reports.
At their arraignment in Brooklyn Federal Court Lou Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa pleaded Not Guilty to every charge against them. Afterwards, Eppolito’s daughter Andrea addressed the Media outside the Courthouse, hoping to convince an increasingly skeptical Media pool that the two cops are being falsely accused. Had this arraignment occurred just days earlier, the story would have been buried in the papers behind many pages devoted to the subject of the new Pope. Instead, the event came on a ‘slow news day’ and was thus front-page news, with the Daily News brandishing Ms. Eppolito’s photo on the cover under the screaming headline: "Leave My Dad Alone!"
Not to be outdone, rival tabloid the New York Post had, within days an equally emotional exclusive interview with Caracappa's mother, who complained about her son's treatment while in detention. The Daily News countered with an exclusive interview with Eppolito’s estranged son, Louis Eppolito Jr. The openly gay young man did not offer the blind support to his father that his half-sister has.
What should be of more concern to Eppolito is whether he has the loyal support of his son Anthony, who is also charged with drug trafficking. Should young Eppolito ‘flip’ against his father and testify against him, such Courtroom drama could effectively seal the Mafia Cops’ Fate on this single charge, which, at their age, would effectively amount to a Life sentence.
Eppolito will likely get no sympathy from those jurors who are parents, as he is charged with supplying to his son ‘crystal meth,’ regarded by many public health officials as the most dangerous drug in America, more so than heroin or crack cocaine. What makes crystal meth so dangerous, besides it’s highly addictive nature, is its effects on the user; popular in America’s gay community, crystal meth reduces a person’s sexual inhibitions, and the affected user is much more likely to engage in unsafe sex acts. One consequence of this drug according to some in the medical community is the emergence of a new strain of the AIDS virus that is immune to almost all of the drugs currently available to stop the virus from replicating. This extremely dangerous drug is what agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration claim that Lou Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa supplied to Eppolito’s son to poison the young people of Las Vegas with, proceeds from which fueled the two Mafia Cops’ extravagant lifestyles.
Eppolito has already had two heart attacks and has other health problems, including obesity. In regards to his estate, the Feds have already made it clear they may attempt to seize some of his assets as being proceeds from criminal activity, most notably his substantial Las Vegas house. Eppolito’s assets are also likely to be exhausted in legal fees as he stubbornly fights the case against him.
At some point in time Lou Eppolito will go the way of all flesh and return to the dust from which he came. The one more enduring possession at his disposal to bequeath to posterity is his prized serpent ring, a metal band that the Feds allege adorned hands that committed murder, a ring which will forever be a testament to remind a future beholder that once upon a time in New York City, there lived a cop who loved snakes.
To be continued
Related Features by this author:
PARTNERS IN CRIME: THE MAFIA COPS
PART ONE: MAFIA COPS INDICTED!
DEATH ON THE WATERFRONT
MURDER ON THE DAY THE POPE CAME TO TOWN
(1) New York Times 11/21/78
New York Post
New York Daily News
James Ridgway de Szigethy can be reached at:
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