April 7, 2006 in Nation/World

NYPD detectives convicted of murders for mob

Larry McShane Associated Press
 

NEW YORK – Two highly decorated former detectives were convicted Thursday of moonlighting as hit men for the mob in one of the most sensational cases of police corruption in New York history.

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 NYPD 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The defendants’ $5 million bail was revoked and they were led off to jail to await sentencing May 22.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.

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

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.

“There has never been, in the history of the NYPD, an officer convicted of being a hit man for the mob,” said Tom Reppetto, co-author of “American Mafia” and “NYPD,” a department history. “There’s cases of police misconduct, but going to work for organized crime? Wow.”

Caracappa, who retired in 1992, helped establish the 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.

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