Feature Articles

July 2005

Partners In Crime: The Mafia Cops

By J. R. de Szigethy and Lou Eppolito, Jr.

Part Four: Judge Grants Bail

     The case of the two accused �Mafia Cops� took several unexpected twists and turns this week, culminating in Brooklyn Federal Judge Jack Weinstein�s granting the bail request presented by their attorneys. Ominously for the Federal Prosecutors in the case, Weinstein also expressed concern over the statute of limitations regarding the racketeering enterprise count that ties the whole case together. RICO statutes expire after 5 years, and the murders and murder conspiracy charges date back to the late 1980s and early 1990s. Prosecutors have argued that the drug trafficking count, which is recent, is evidence that the racketeering enterprise the two men allegedly participated in was a pattern of criminal activity that the two have continued in during the past 20 years. Arrested along with Caracappa and Eppolito on drug trafficking charges was Eppolito�s son Anthony, who was released on his own recognizance.

     The hearing to spring the two accused hitmen for the Mob was held on the day after the Fourth of July holiday weekend. Minutes before the noon proceedings a visibly anxious member of the Defendant�s defense team was pacing the hallways outside the Courtroom, obviously eavesdropping on several members of the press discussing the case. Although this was not the �Mafia Cops� first Court proceeding, there were still audible gasps by audience members when the two Defendants entered the Courtroom, some in attendance shocked by their appearance. Steven Caracappa appeared disheveled and shell-shocked, a common reaction to being held in Solitary Confinement and cut off from human contact. Lou Eppolito Sr. appeared 40 pounds lighter and 20 years older since his arrest in March, his hair now stark white and his gait now frail. However, in speaking to the Judge during the Court proceedings Eppolito appeared to be in a sound frame of mind and holding up well given the circumstances.

     The first order of business was the on-going battle over Eppolito�s attorney Bruce Cutler, who a decade ago was disqualified in further representation of his client John Gotti after a Judge determined that Cutler acted as "House Counsel" to the entire Gambino Mafia Family. Rather than making this determination again, Judge Weinstein instead repeatedly questioned Eppolito as to various conflicts of interest that might arise given Cutler�s previous representation of Gambino criminals. Eppolito, who as a writer has never been without a loss for words, convinced the Judge that he understood his concerns. Weinstein also ruled that taped conversations that John Gotti �respected� only 3 people in his life, one of them being Lou Eppolito, constituted "triple hearsay" and would not be allowed to be heard by the jury. Questions were also raised by the Judge as to exactly who was paying for the very expensive representation of Eppolito by Cutler.

     That issue having been settled to the Judge�s satisfaction, the case moved on to a letter presented a few days earlier to the Judge by the Prosecutors containing transcript excerpts of a taped conversation between Eppolito and a contractor in his opulent Las Vegas home. The lawyers argued that they needed more time to respond to the letter and Judge Weinstein adjourned the case for two more days. Journalists had come to Court expecting a decision on the bail request, only to find themselves pouring over copies of the letter, which sounded damning. Eppolito was reported to have made threats to the contractor to murder him and taunted him by calling him a "faggot." Thus, the next day�s reports in the Media dealt with what the Prosecutors had hoped would be further compelling evidence that the two former cops were still a danger to the community and thus their bail request should be denied.

     However, transcripts and tapes in murder cases can sometimes turn out to not be the compelling evidence that Prosecutors portray them to be. A notable case in point is that of Steve and Marlene Aisenberg, a Florida couple whose baby Sabrina vanished without a trace back in 1997. Local Prosecutors were convinced the couple were responsible and obtained a Court order to wiretap the couple�s home. Lacking evidence to indict on murder charges, Federal Prosecutors picked up the case, indicting the Aisenbergs on charges of lying to Federal authorities. The news Media soon had transcripts of conversations between the couple that resulted in the American public vilifying the couple as responsible for the murder of their infant. However, once the actual tapes were scrutinized in Court by a Federal Judge, those snippets of conversations published in the Media could not be heard. The Judge then dismissed the charges and the Aisenbergs won a $2.9 million dollar settlement against the government for Court costs.

     Whether or not the tapes alluded to in the Prosecutor�s filing will stand up in Court as what they have been portrayed to be remains to be seen. At any rate, such transcripts did not sway Judge Weinstein, who ruled that the two accused no longer posed a threat to Society and granted the bail request. The bail was secured by $5 million of equity of several family and friend�s homes, including the palatial Las Vegas residences of Caracappa and Eppolito, and the similar Staten Island home of Eppolito�s sister, who is married to a former New York City Detective. 'Caracappa and Eppolito will remain in jail during the 10 days after the Judge's ruling in which the Prosecutors can Appeal his decision.'


To be continued

Related Features:

Partners in Crime: The Mafia Cops
Part Three: The Emergence of 'Crystal Meth'

Partners in Crime: The Mafia Cops
Part Two: The Cop Who Loved Snakes

Partners in Crime: The Mafia Cops
Part One: Mafia Cops Indicted

James Ridgway de Szigethy can be reached at:

© 2005

Past Issues

Copyright © 1998 - 2005 PLR International