Feature Articles

July 2006

Partners In Crime: The Mafia Cops

By J. R. de Szigethy

Part Seventeen: Getting Away With Murder?

     In yet another shocking plot twist in the tale of the Mafia Cops, Federal Judge Jack Weinstein has thrown out the entire case on Lou Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa on a technicality regarding the statute of limitations on racketeering charges. Earlier this year, a jury of their peers found the two rogue cops guilty on all charges after a sensational two-month trial, charges including multiple murders, bribery, and drug trafficking. While there are no statutes of limitation on the crime of murder, the diabolical duo were not charged with �regular murder,� but with murder as part of a racketeering conspiracy.

     The jury found that essentially Eppolito and Caracappa were their own two-man racketeering enterprise that committed crimes that changed with their residences; the first crime wave being in the 1980s and 1990s in New York, committed in league with the murderous Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso of the Luchese Mafia Family, and the crime wave continuing in Las Vegas this decade, which allegedly included Eppolito�s young son Anthony and at least one of his friends. However, Judge Weinstein ruled that the conspiracy in New York ended when the two retired cops moved to Las Vegas; thus the entire conviction was vacated.

     Family and friends of the many victims, as well as some jurors, in addition to New Yorkers who followed the case were outraged, but legal analysts have since suggested that Judge Weinstein�s ruling was the best possible handling of a difficult legal quagmire. From the very beginning of the case, Judge Weinstein had warned the Prosecutors that he perceived a flaw in the racketeering count. Weinstein even suggested the Feds fix the case by simply charging the two with multiple counts of "murder for hire."

     After the convictions, Weinstein predicted in Federal Court that the Court of Appeals might overturn the case on the statute of limitations problem. That argument was one of two Defense attorneys made in an Appeal with the Judge during the sentencing Hearing, the other being that both men had received incompetent representation from their high-profile, high-priced criminal lawyers, Bruce Cutler and Ed Hayes. Both lawyers testified during the Hearing, as did Eppolito and his daughter Andrea. Eppolito claimed he begged Cutler to allow him to testify in his own behalf, although Eppolito came across as arrogant and racist during his subsequent testimony, suggesting his attorney had made the right decision after all.

     In his pronouncements, Judge Weinstein did not hide his contempt for Eppolito, and many observers believed the Judge would allow the convictions to stand, giving the two hope for reversal about a year down the line in the Court of Appeals. Weinstein, in his ruling, however, turned the case around; it is now up to the Prosecutors to Appeal his decision to the Court of Appeals, an action that again will take many months. If the Appeals Court decides in the government�s favor, then Weinstein�s ruling is vacated and the original convictions will be re-instated, along with Weinstein�s Sentence of Life Without Parole.

     Until that decision, here is where the case is headed:

     *Weinstein�s decision that the original conspiracy ended when the cops moved to Las Vegas had the effect of �un-severing� the drug trafficking charges from the case involving Anthony Eppolito and his pal Guido Bravatti. The Feds in Las Vegas can now proceed with the drug trial alone, in which most of the evidence is captured on videotape. Entrapment is one possible defense, and it should be noted that Federal Prosecutors once had a similar, "air-tight" case against rogue auto mogul John DeLorean. However, DeLorean�s lawyer Howard Weitzman (of subsequent O. J. Simpson fame) called as a witness "private eye to the Stars" Anthony Pellicano, a self-appointed expert on audio and video tape analysis, who successfully challenged the veracity of the government�s evidence, resulting in DeLorean�s stunning acquittal.

     Unfortunately for the Eppolito family, the Feds may have some video evidence of Anthony Eppolito�s own making that could theoretically be used against him during trial, if not during Sentencing, should the Feds obtain a conviction. That video evidence is young Eppolito�s own personal webpage at the controversial website. Eppolito�s webpage is to the Mafia what "Springtime for Hitler" was to the Nazis; a shameless, self-indulging tribute to and acknowledgment of criminal activity. At best, the webpage, still uploaded when last checked, is an indication that Anthony Eppolito has not received competent legal representation; no criminal lawyer worth their degree would allow a client to host for all the world to see negative, prejudicial information about themselves that could be interpreted as an admission of guilt and lack of remorse.

     If convicted on the single drug trafficking count, all four Defendants could face over 10 years in prison, which, given the age and health of Lou Eppolito and Caracappa, would essentially amount to a Life Sentence.

     Eppolito and his wife Fran also face a separate income tax evasion trial, centered on their failure to disclose the $45,000 Eppolito accepted from "Rat Pack" veteran entourage member Janie McCormick in exchange for Eppolito�s promise to produce her life story - a contract never delivered upon by Eppolito.

     There is also the question of the many murders Eppolito and Caracappa have been alleged to have committed. With those convictions now tossed out, several options are available for Justice to be served:

     *Local Prosecutors in the Brooklyn District Attorney�s Office could file State murder charges against the two on some or all of the murder cases that resulted in convictions in the Federal case, and/or several murders for which the two were not charged in the Federal case. Because Judge Weinstein allowed the Federal case to go to a jury verdict - which he then overturned, the prohibition against "double jeopardy" does not apply in regards to charging the two again with murder. However, charges on murder counts for which the two were convicted in the Federal case will be tied up until the Court of Appeals decides on the expected Appeal by the Feds regarding Judge Weinstein�s ruling.

     Such a decision will have to be made by the same Prosecutors who have obtained four counts of murder indictments against former FBI agent Lindley DeVecchio, accused of assisting Colombo Family hitman/FBI Informant Greg Scarpa in his murderous reign of terror during the Colombo Family War of the late 1980s to early 1990s. Ironically, DeVecchio�s criminal lawyers are seeking to have his murder case re-assigned to the Feds in Brooklyn, where DeVecchio testified as a Prosecution Witness in many of the troubled cases from that war, including cases presented in Judge Weinstein�s Courtroom. Previous Federal investigations of the allegations against DeVecchio did not result in Federal prosecution. DeVecchio maintains his innocence and has among his supporters many former FBI agents involved in organized crime cases.

     Thus, the twisted saga of the Mafia Cops has many different scenarios in which the story can play out, but the overriding concern of those who believe they are guilty is this: will the Mafia Cops get away with murder?

To be continued

Related Features:

License to Kill: Greg Scarpa and the FBI
Part Two: Gangsters With Badges

Partners in Crime: The Mafia Cops
Part Sixteen: A Tale of Two Brothers

Partners in Crime: The Mafia Cops
Part Fifteen: GUILTY!

Partners in Crime: The Mafia Cops
Part Fourteen: �Courtroom of Sorrow�

Partners in Crime: The Mafia Cops
Part Thirteen: The Dueling Mob Turncoats

Partners in Crime: The Mafia Cops
Part Twelve: The Revenge of Janie McCormick

Partners in Crime: The Mafia Cops
Part Eleven: Christmas for the �Mafia Cops�

Partners in Crime: The Mafia Cops
Part Ten: The Media Wars

Partners in Crime: The Mafia Cops
Part Nine: The Wrong Man

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

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

J. R. de Szigethy can be reached at:

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