Stephen Caracappa and Louis Eppolito

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Stephen Caracappa, left, and Louis Eppolito, right

Stephen Caracappa and Louis Eppolito were former New York City Police Department (NYPD) police detectives who worked on behalf of the New York City Mafia, principally the Lucchese and Gambino crime families, while they committed various illegal activities. In 2006, they were convicted of labor racketeering, extortion, narcotics, illegal gambling, obstruction of justice, eight counts of murder and conspiracy to commit murder, charges stemming from the 1980s and the early 1990s in New York City, and in the 2000s in Las Vegas. Both were convicted in 2006, and sentenced to life imprisonment in 2009.

Police careers[edit]

Caracappa[edit]

Stephen Caracappa
Born1941 (1941)
DiedApril 8, 2017(2017-04-08) (aged 75–76)
Other namesThe Stick
Police career
CountryUnited States
DepartmentNew York Police Department
Service years1969 – 1992
RankSworn in as an officer – 1969
Detective – 1979
Other workConvicted on corruption, racketeering, and murder charges

Stephen Caracappa (1941 – April 8, 2017) had worked in the NYPD's organized crime unit in Brooklyn, New York, since the late 1970s before he eventually retired on a disability pension in 1992, living for a time in Great Kills, Staten Island.[1] He subsequently worked as a private investigator and retired in the mid-1990s, moving to Las Vegas along with Eppolito. Caracappa worked inside the Las Vegas Women's Correctional Facility as a correctional officer. While on trial in 2006, both he and Eppolito claimed that they were discriminated against during the proceedings.

Eppolito[edit]

Louis Eppolito
Born(1948-07-22)July 22, 1948
DiedNovember 3, 2019(2019-11-03) (aged 71)
Other namesLouie
Spouse(s)Frances Ann Eppolito
Police career
CountryUnited States
DepartmentNew York Police Department
Service years1969 – 1990
RankSworn in as an officer – 1969
Detective – 1979
AwardsEppolito's claim to be the 11th most decorated officer in NYPD was found to be false during the appeal hearing as well as his own admission that his two Medals of Honor were in actuality only "Honorable Mentions".
Other workActor, author, convicted on corruption, racketeering, and murder charges

Louis Eppolito (July 22, 1948 – November 3, 2019) was the son of Ralph Eppolito, a member of the Gambino crime family. His paternal uncle and cousin, James Eppolito and James Eppolito Jr., were also both made Gambino members in capo Nino Gaggi's crew. Growing up, he became acquainted with several other mobsters. His uncle and cousin were eventually murdered by both Nino Gaggi and Gambino family soldier, Roy DeMeo, with the permission of Gambino family boss, Paul Castellano. When he applied to the NYPD in 1969, Eppolito falsely stated that he was unrelated to organized crime figures.

Eppolito eventually rose to detective in 1977, a job which garnered him a number of headlines. In 1983, he was suspected of passing NYPD intelligence reports to Rosario Gambino, a distant relative of Castellano and Carlo Gambino. He was cleared in this case. Eppolito retired as a police officer in late 1990. In his book, he cited his tarnished reputation over the Rosario Gambino corruption case as a reason for leaving.

After meeting actor Joe Pesci in Cafe Central, a restaurant frequented by celebrities, he had a minor career as an actor, with small roles in movies including Lost Highway, Predator 2, Goodfellas, and Ruby.

In 1992, Eppolito wrote a book, Mafia Cop: The Story of an Honest Cop Whose Family Was the Mob, in which he spoke of his attempts to avoid being dragged into the criminal life and having to fight for his reputation as a result of the Rosario Gambino corruption case. He moved to Las Vegas around 1994 and sold automobiles at the Infiniti dealership, where he would entertain fellow salesmen with NYC crime scene photos.

Mafia careers[edit]

By 1985, Federal authorities recognized Caracappa and Eppolito as associates of the New York City Mafia. Caracappa was at this point a member of the Organized Crime Homicide Unit within the NYPD Major Case Squad based in Brooklyn. Both were known for using inappropriate methods to get results in their police work.

Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso[edit]

According to Lucchese crime family underboss Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, when trying to enroll in Witness Protection in 1994, he and his boss Vittorio "Vic" Amuso had paid Eppolito and Caracappa $375,000 in bribes – and payments for murder contracts – beginning in 1985. Casso stated in 1986 that, as retaliation for an attempt on Casso's life – on the orders of Casso and Amuso – the two police detectives kidnapped and handed over James Hydell, an associate of the Gambino crime family, to be murdered by Casso.

Again on Casso's orders, this time with the assistance of Louis Daidone, Caracappa and Eppolito murdered Lucchese family member Bruno Facciolo, because Casso suspected him of being an informant. Facciolo's murder is famous for the stuffed canary Federal agents found in his mouth at the crime scene, considered to be a message to other informants.

At least partially in retaliation for the 1985 murder of Gambino crime family boss Paul Castellano, arranged by John Gotti, Casso ordered Caracappa and Eppolito to kill Gambino captain Edward "Eddie" Lino. On November 6, 1990, the detectives pulled Lino over in his 1990 Mercedes-Benz and shot him nine times.

Las Vegas "retirement"[edit]

After wholesale indictments came down for almost every crime family in New York City in the mid-1990s, Caracappa and Eppolito retired to Las Vegas. Casso later confirmed that both of the "Mafia Cops" were still involved in crime family business from Nevada. They were contacted in 1993 by Lastorino to murder the new head of the Gambino crime family, John "Junior" Gotti, whose father was imprisoned for life in 1992. The plot failed.

Lastorino also wanted the detectives to murder the underboss of the Lucchese crime family, Stephen "Wonderboy" Crea. This plot failed due to indictments brought against the family. In the late 1990s, both Caracappa and Eppolito conspired to kill former Gambino crime family underboss Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano, who had entered the Witness Protection Program in 1992 after testifying against his boss John Gotti. A reward had been placed on Gravano's head by Gambino boss Peter Gotti. Gravano was later arrested and convicted of drug trafficking in 2003 and was sentenced to serve 19 years in prison.

Convictions and sentencing[edit]

After a long investigation, highlighted by Burton Kaplan's decision to testify against his former confederates, both Caracappa and Eppolito were arrested in March 2005 and charged with counts of racketeering, obstruction of justice, extortion and eight counts of murder and conspiracy. These included the murders of James Hydell, Nicholas Guido, John "Otto" Heidel, John Doe, Anthony DiLapi, Bruno Facciolo, Edward Lino, and Bartholomew Boriello — and their involvement in the conspiracy to murder Gravano. Kaplan, a businessman and career criminal, who had been the link between Casso and the two policemen, was the chief accuser, giving two days of riveting testimony at trial.[2]

On April 6, 2006, Caracappa and Eppolito were convicted on all charges. On March 6, 2009, Eppolito was sentenced to life plus 100 years and Caracappa to life plus 80 years. Each was fined more than $4 million.[3]

“The federal government can take my life. I’m a man. They can’t take my soul. They can’t take my pride. They can’t take my dignity…. I was a hard-working cop. I never hurt anybody. I never kidnapped anybody. ... I never did any of this.”

Louis Eppolito (at his sentencing)

On June 30, 2006, the presiding federal judge, Jack B. Weinstein, threw out a racketeering murder conviction against the two detectives on a technicality — the five-year statute of limitations had expired on the key charge of racketeering conspiracy. On September 17, 2008, their racketeering convictions were ordered reinstated by a Federal appeals court.[4] On July 23, 2010, their convictions were upheld by the 2nd Circuit.[5]

New York City paid $18.4 million to settle seven lawsuits brought by families of the victims of Caracappa and Eppolito.[6]

Incarceration and death[edit]

Caracappa was incarcerated at the United States Penitentiary, Coleman in Florida.[7] He was transferred to a federal prison in North Carolina before dying of cancer on April 8, 2017.[8][9]

Eppolito was incarcerated at the United States Penitentiary, Tucson, a high-security federal prison.[6] He died on November 3, 2019 in federal custody at a “regular hospital, surrounded by doctors and nurses,” according to his wife, Frances Ann Eppolito.[6] His cause of death has not been disclosed.[10]

Further reading[edit]

  • Carlo, Philip (2008). Gaspipe: Confessions of a Mafia Boss. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 9780061429842.
  • Lawson, Guy; Oldham, William (November 2006). The Brotherhoods: The True Story of Two Cops Who Murdered for the Mafia. Scribner. ISBN 9780743289443.
  • Eppolito, Lou; Drury, Bob (1992). Mafia Cop: The Story of an Honest Cop Whose Family Was the Mob. ISBN 9781416517016.
  • Smith, Greg B (December 2006). Mob Cops. New York: Berkley. ISBN 9780425215722.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Report: 'Mob cop' with Staten Island ties dies in prison". Staten Island Advance. April 12, 2017.
  2. ^ "Dan Ackman, "Dispatches from a Mob Trial"". Slate.com, March 17, 2006.
  3. ^ Marzulli, John (March 6, 2009). "'Mafia Cops' Louis Eppolito, Stephen Caracappa sentenced to life in prison". New York Daily News. Retrieved April 14, 2012.
  4. ^ Weiser, Benjamin (September 18, 2008). "Convictions Reinstated in Mob Case". The New York Times. Retrieved May 11, 2010.
  5. ^ "United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit". Retrieved December 23, 2017.
  6. ^ a b c ANNESE, JOHN. "Former NYPD detective Louis Eppolito, who killed for the mob, dies in federal custody". nydailynews.com. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
  7. ^ "BOP: Inmate Locator Main Page". Bop.gov. January 27, 2005. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
  8. ^ "NYPD cop who worked as mob hitman dies in prison". Retrieved April 12, 2017.
  9. ^ "NYPD Cop Turned Mafia Hitman Dies In Prison". Archived from the original on April 12, 2017. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
  10. ^ Celona, Larry; Feuerherd, Ben (November 5, 2019). "Mafia cop Louis Eppolito dies while serving life in prison for mob hits". New York Post. Retrieved November 5, 2019.

External links[edit]