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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 March 2006, 13:53 GMT
NY cops go on trial in mafia case
Stephen Caracappa in custody
Stephen Caracappa was a highly decorated detective
The long-awaited trial of two decorated detectives accused of committing crimes for more than 10 years on behalf of the New York mafia has opened in Brooklyn.

Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa are accused of using their positions to commit murder, kidnap and racketeer in the pay of the Luchese family.

They are also alleged to have leaked information to the mafia, tipping it off about raids and pending arrests.

The pair, who are both retired, have denied the allegations.

Correspondents say is the most shocking scandal to hit New York Police Department (NYPD) for a century.

Hundreds of spectators packed into the Brooklyn courtroom for the opening statements at the trial.

Prosecutor Mitra Hormozi told a jury that Mr Eppolito and Mr Caracappa joined the payroll of Luchese underboss Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso.

She alleged each detective received a monthly payment of $4,000 (2,300) from the mafia for confidential police information.

The pair are also accused of carrying out a series of hits for Mr Casso, including the 1992 murder of Eddie Lino, a rival from the Gambino family.

'Ludicrous'

"They were not traditional mobsters. They were better. They could get away with murder because these two men were New York City police detectives," Ms Hormozi said.

The defendants, who have describe the allegations as "ludicrous", listened intently during opening statements.

Their lawyers said the accusations were "the most serious charges ever made" against police officers.

Mr Eppolito's lawyer, Bruce Cutler, also attacked the credibility of former Luchese associates expected to testify against the retired detectives.

Correspondents say the crucial missing witness is Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, who first made the claims about the detectives.

But he will not be testifying. After entering the witness protection programme, he was convicted of new drugs offences, and is serving a prison sentence of more than 300 years.

Mr Caracappa, 64, and Mr Eppolito, 57, spent more than two decades with the NYPD before retiring in the early 1990s.

Mr Eppolito's father and grandfather and one of his uncles were members of the Gambino family. He wrote an autobiography called Mafia Cop: The Story Of An Honest Cop Whose Family Was The Mob.

The two detectives settled in Las Vegas and were arrested at a local restaurant a year ago.


SEE ALSO:
'Dirty cops' hung out to dry
28 Apr 05 |  Americas
New York cops 'were Mafia hitmen'
11 Mar 05 |  Americas


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