Feature Articles

September 2005

Partners In Crime: The Mafia Cops

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

Part Eight: Yet Another Murder, Another Warning

     Once again, Federal Prosecutors in Brooklyn have added another murder charge to the indictment of the two �Mafia Cops� - Steve Caracappa and Lou Eppolito, Sr., and, once again Federal Judge Jack Weinstein has warned the Prosecutors that their entire indictment may not survive scrutiny regarding the 5-year statute of limitations under RICO statutes. At their arraignment hearing in Brooklyn Federal Court, Weinstein again lectured the Prosecutors, suggesting they charge the cops with 10 Counts of murder-for-hire, rather than 10 counts of conspiring to commit murder as part of a racketeering enterprise.

     Prosecutors in the case thought they had this one solved, by now claiming Caracappa and Eppolito were themselves a �racketeering enterprise,� as opposed to previous allegations that had them sub-contracting out murder and other services to the Luchese Mafia Family. Judge Weinstein was unimpressed, and set back the trial date, originally slated for September, then later postponed to December, and now set for February, 2006.

     Attorneys for both men indicated that they will file a Motion to Dismiss the charges because of the alleged faulty application of the RICO statutes by October 24th. If successful, both men would still likely face the federal drug trafficking charges that resulted from alleged actions on their part in 2004 and 2005.

     The failure of the Prosecutors to address the RICO charge has puzzled many observers following this case. As to what actions the Prosecutors will take next, that is anyone�s guess, but no one should discount the possibility that the Prosecutors could offer a plea bargain to one of the cops, who would then confess and testify to the fact that the two men did in fact operate their own racketeering enterprise over the space of three decades. The likely candidate for such a �flip� would be Caracappa, who still exhibits symptoms of psychological trauma as the result of his spending several months in solitary confinement. Caracappa is also facing cancer, from which he could die, and also is concerned over the future of his elderly mother, with whom he is living with in their home on Staten Island. Those who have witnessed in person Caracappa�s dazed and confused demeanor cannot help but wonder what it is that is going on in his obviously troubled mind, and whether he blames himself for the dilemma in which he now finds himself, or if he blames someone else.

     Detective Eppolito�s behavior during the arraignment was also bizarre and completely out of character. Eppolito has never been known to turn down an opportunity to obtain publicity. After the previous Hearing in which Eppolito and Caracappa were released on Bail, Eppolito mugged for the cameras outside the Courthouse, showing off his ankle bracelet that monitors the conditions of his home confinement. His attorney Bruce Cutler also struck poses for the cameras in his trademark boisterous style, which resembles that of a cartoon character or a performer for the World Wrestling Federation.

     Thus, it was a surprise to some of the reporters waiting outside the Courthouse when Eppolito emerged and quickly retreated to the right, ignoring the reporters and paparazzi assembled. For once, Eppolito did not want his photograph taken nor wish to speak to the reporters. Eppolito may have been acting on the advice of his criminal lawyer Cutler, who emerged at the same time from the Courthouse but joined Hayes in speaking to the reporters.

     Eppolito may also have been brought down in spirits given that for this Hearing there were no family members or friends sitting in the seats in the Courtroom set aside for such to offer their moral support. In previous hearings, Eppolito had been supported by the presence of his daughter Andrea, who courted reporters and photographers outside the Courthouse, and his wife Fran, who openly displayed her affection for her husband before all of the reporters present inside the Courtroom during his Bail hearing. This event between Eppolito and his wife was allowed by Judge Weinstein after attorney Cutler implored the Judge to allow such an exchange inside his Courtroom.

     The big question mark in this case is the status of Eppolito�s son Anthony, who faces drug trafficking charges with his father and Caracappa. Young Anthony has not been seen publicly since his arrest. At first, lawyers for the accused Mafia Cops blamed the drug trafficking charges on a government informant, whom they claimed "entrapped" the former cops into participating in the drug transaction. At a later Hearing, the apparent strategy had shifted to blaming the entire matter on Anthony. Cutler remarked before the Judge that there had been �only� one drug transaction and that it had been "instigated" by his client�s son.


     Anthony Eppolito is not facing serious jail time over this alleged incident and was released by the DEA after his arrest on his own recognizance. Should the attorneys for the accused former cops succeed in getting the RICO murder charges thrown out, there still would be left the drug trafficking charge. Should Anthony Eppolito �flip� and agree to testify against his own father, such compelling testimony would be very difficult for Cutler and Hayes to negate.

     While such a scenario may seem implausible, there is no tragedy that cannot befall an American family where one or more member has become involved with the American Mafia.

To be continued

Related Features:

Partners in Crime: The Mafia Cops
Part Seven: The NYPD�s �Other� Mafia Cop: Steve Gardell

Partners in Crime: The Mafia Cops
Part Six: Another Murder, Another Warning

Partners in Crime: The Mafia Cops
Part Five: A Troubled Prosecution

Partners in Crime: The Mafia Cops
Part Four: Judge Grants Bail

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

Buy "�MAFIA COP,� by Lou Eppolito and Bob Drury, Simon and Schuster, 1992.
�MAFIA COP,� by Lou Eppolito and Bob Drury, Simon and Schuster, 1992.

James Ridgway de Szigethy can be reached at:

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