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Feature Articles


April 2006

Partners In Crime: The Mafia Cops

By J. R. de Szigethy


Part Fifteen: GUILTY!

     Few Courtroom observers were surprised when it took the jurors in the "Mafia Cops" trial of Lou Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa only two half-days of deliberations to convict the duo on all counts of murder, attempted murder, conspiracy, Obstruction of Justice, bribery, kidnapping, money laundering, drug trafficking, and racketeering. The thorough, coordinated, and professional Prosecution team led by Mitra Hormozi and Robert Henoch was in stark contrast to the disjointed and over-reaching performance of defense attorneys Bruce Cutler and Ed Hayes, who failed to live up to the expectations their reputations had generated.

     If Cutler and Hayes had not done so already, by the time closing arguments came around they both likely alienated at least some of the jurors with their bizarre arguments that some might have found offensive. Hayes spoke first, speaking of a "Washington, D. C." conspiracy against the New Yorkers - Caracappa and Eppolito. Hayes was attempting to appeal to possible anti-government sentiment on the part of at least some of the jurors, mentioning how the government sends young Americans off to war in foreign lands, tacitly suggesting that if they, the jurors, were opposed to the war in Iraq, they should acquit his client. That desperate stretch did not appear to fly with the jury. Bruce Cutler may himself have over-reached by quoting an American icon - the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King - in his own closing arguments.

     After the Verdict, Eppolito’s daughter Andrea blasted the Prosecution’s case, taking the line presented by Hayes that it was a government conspiracy that resulted in her father’s conviction. Eppolito’s son, Lou Eppolito, Jr., however, had a different take when he spoke to AmericanMafia.com: "It’s very, very painful to watch my father go to jail for the rest of his life. The jury made their decision and I live with and respect it."

     Senior citizen Janie McCormick also spoke to AmericanMafia.com about her own experience with Eppolito. McCormick was forced into bankruptcy after giving her life savings - $45,000 - to Eppolito, who promised to Produce a movie based upon her life story as a Casino escort to Hollywood’s 1960s "Rat Pack." Says McCormick: "He promised me that I’d get that money back with more in one year and it was all a lie. ‘Who are you going to trust, if you can’t trust a cop?’ Eppolito said before I signed the Contract."

     That theme of ‘betrayal of trust’ was also invoked after the Verdict by U. S. Attorney Roslynn Mauskopf, who acknowledged that the case of the Mafia Cops represents the most shocking betrayal of the public trust in the entire history of the New York City Police Department. Mauskopf spoke in Biblical terms, saying the two Mafia Cops: "Didn’t ‘deliver us from Evil’; they themselves were Evil personified."

     A jury of their peers found that the Mafia Cops used their shields to feed their murderous greed, that Eppolito and Caracappa traded sensitive law enforcement information to Luchese Mafia Family Underboss Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso to assist him in at least 7 of the 36 murders attributed to him. In two of those murders, that of diamond merchant Israel Greenwald and Gambino Mafia Family hitman James Hydell, the two cops pretended to "arrest" or detain the victims, only to deliver them to Eppolito’s cousin Frank Santora and Casso, respectively. Eppolito and Caracappa also pulled over Gambino Family hitman Eddie Lino under the guise of a traffic stop, after which Caracappa gunned down the unsuspecting Lino.

     Perhaps most tragically, Eppolito and Caracappa were convicted of the murder of an innocent young man, Nicholas Guido, gunned down on Christmas Day, 1986 in a case of mistaken identity. Eppolito was also convicted of an eight murder, that of Pasquale Varialle, shot dead on Valentine's Day, 1987, after Eppolito exposed Varialle as a possible informant.

     Eppolito and Caracappa are suspects in at least 6 other murders, including that of Bobby Boriello, a former driver for Gambino Mafia Family Godfather John Gotti and his son Junior Gotti. The two Mafia Cops also are believed to have plotted unsuccessfully to murder former Gambino Family Underboss Sammy "The Bull" Gravano.

     Eppolito is the son and nephew of two former high-ranking members of the Gambino Mafia Family.

WHAT’S NEXT

     While the convictions of the Mafia Cops in this trial closes one chapter in this saga, other chapters have yet to see their resolution. Eppolito’s son Anthony faces a drug trafficking charge in Las Vegas, which should go to trial in coming months. A key witness against young Eppolito, FBI Informant Steven Corso, may also be a Witness in upcoming trials involving the Crazy Horse Too club in Las Vegas. That story and related cases have been investigated extensively by AmericanMafia.com contributor Steve Miller, and are among those chronicled in Miller’s weekly INSIDE VEGAS column.

     Eppolito and his second wife Fran also face income tax evasion charges, a trial in which Jane McCormick may be called as a Prosecution Witness. Prosecutors generally are wary of calling as Witnesses those who have book deals, as does McCormick, who, with author Patti Wicklund is co-writing "The Confidence Game," due out later this year. Such was the case of two members of the law enforcement team that investigated the Mafia Cops case that led to their indictments, both of whom were scrapped as Witnesses by Prosecutors. In McCormick’s case, however, her current book is the project Eppolito originally promised to complete for her several years ago. The Feds in Las Vegas allege that Eppolito and his wife did not declare on their income tax the $45,000 McCormick gave to Eppolito, for which she has produced the receipt.

     Eppolito and Caracappa will be sentenced by Judge Weinstein on May 22 on the current convictions. Judge Weinstein can sentence both men to Life in prison.

EPILOGUE AND COMMENTARY

     Just one year ago I met with Lou Eppolito Jr. and his companion Rob at their modest house in suburban New Jersey. Lou Jr. had been distraught when his father was arrested, and, in surfing the Internet for information on his father, he came upon the first two stories I wrote about this case, most notably Part Two: "The Cop Who Loved Snakes."

     While Lou expressed the love he felt for his father, he also wanted to speak out against organized crime, and how it can turn a father against a son, and a sister against a brother. He wanted to rehabilitate his family name, and to speak out against the scourge of ‘crystal meth,’ a dangerous drug that is a silent, nationwide epidemic. Lou’s brother Tony stands accused of allegedly scoring a small amount of ‘crystal meth’ on behalf of a business associate of his father.

     I suggested to Lou that AmericanMafia.com might be a proper venue for pursuing his agenda, and he agreed to join me in reporting on this case. This brave action of Lou Eppolito Jr.'s part simply was unprecedented; an accused Mafia hitman having his trial reported on by his own son and namesake. Some suggested that it was impossible for a son to be ‘objective’ in such a scenario. However, Lou Jr. and I were not covering the trial as merely reporters, but as Investigative Reporters, seeking to uncover exclusive information about this case that no other reporter or member of law enforcement had discovered. Lou Eppolito, Jr. has now taken a Sabbatical from AmericanMafia.com to focus on a book he is writing with another author on his own, personal story. While there are several authors who have book deals on this subject, Lou’s book promises to be the DEFINITIVE book on the saga of the Mafia Cops, with Lou Jr. having the final word.

     It has been my honor and privilege to have worked with Lou Eppolito Jr. during the past year. Lou’s quiet courage has been inspirational, as he has shown the world how to be one’s own man under unthinkable circumstances. I also must thank Lou’s better half Rob, who got this story first, long before anyone else, and he got it ‘right!’

     Lou Eppolito Jr. and I will still keep in contact with each other and share information and thoughts as we continue to follow the saga of the Mafia Cops. Next on the agenda is the drug trafficking trial of Lou’s brother Tony.

     Is Tony Eppolito, as the Feds would have one believe, a drug dealer and threat to America?; or is this young man a victim of both his own misplaced desire to please his father, as well as the treachery of a convicted felon seeking his own ‘get-out-of-jail-free card?’

To be continued

Related Features:

Partners in Crime: The Mafia Cops
Part Fourteen: ‘Courtroom of Sorrow’
http://www.americanmafia.com/Feature_Articles_341.html

Partners in Crime: The Mafia Cops
Part Thirteen: The Dueling Mob Turncoats
http://www.americanmafia.com/Feature_Articles_335.html

Partners in Crime: The Mafia Cops
Part Twelve: The Revenge of Janie McCormick
http://www.americanmafia.com/Feature_Articles_332.html

Partners in Crime: The Mafia Cops
Part Eleven: Christmas for the ‘Mafia Cops’
http://www.americanmafia.com/Feature_Articles_330.html

Partners in Crime: The Mafia Cops
Part Ten: The Media Wars
http://www.americanmafia.com/Feature_Articles_324.html

Partners in Crime: The Mafia Cops
Part Nine: The Wrong Man
http://www.americanmafia.com/Feature_Articles_321.html

Partners in Crime: The Mafia Cops
Part Eight: Yet Another Murder, Another Warning
http://www.americanmafia.com/Feature_Articles_319.html

Partners in Crime: The Mafia Cops
Part Seven: The NYPD’s ‘Other’ Mafia Cop: Steve Gardell
http://www.americanmafia.com/Feature_Articles_313.html

Partners in Crime: The Mafia Cops
Part Six: Another Murder, Another Warning
http://www.americanmafia.com/Feature_Articles_311.html

Partners in Crime: The Mafia Cops
Part Five: A Troubled Prosecution
http://www.americanmafia.com/Feature_Articles_307.html

Partners in Crime: The Mafia Cops
Part Four: Judge Grants Bail
http://www.americanmafia.com/Feature_Articles_306.html

Partners in Crime: The Mafia Cops
Part Three: The Emergence of 'Crystal Meth'
http://www.americanmafia.com/Feature_Articles_303.html

Partners in Crime: The Mafia Cops
Part Two: The Cop Who Loved Snakes
http://www.americanmafia.com/Feature_Articles_300.html

Partners in Crime: The Mafia Cops
Part One: Mafia Cops Indicted
http://www.americanmafia.com/Feature_Articles_297.html


J. R. de Szigethy can be reached at:
writer10021@aol.com

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