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Last Updated: Friday, 7 April 2006, 21:18 GMT 22:18 UK
Double lives of New York's 'Mafia' cops
By Laura Trevelyan
BBC News, New York

Just as the final season of the Sopranos airs on TV here, two ex-detectives are convicted of moonlighting as hired killers for the Mob.

Louis Eppolito (r), his wife Fran (l) with family in the background
Neither Eppolito (r) or Caracappa took the stand

You couldn't make it up.

In a further example of the parallels between life and art, Louis Eppolito - one of the fallen cops - actually played a walk-on part in the classic Scorcese Mob movie "Goodfellas".

Then he unsuccessfully tried his hand at Hollywood scriptwriting.

The tale of how New York city detectives Stephen Caracappa and Louis Eppolito doubled up as brutal henchmen for the Luchese crime family has enough plot material for a dozen Sopranos spin-offs.

'Betrayal of the badge'

The pair were convicted of eight killings carried out between 1986 and 1990 in return for money from Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, the number two in the Luchese hierarchy.

People have called this the worst case of corruption New York has ever seen but it was not on the part of my father and not on the part of Stephen Caracappa
Andrea Eppolito
The prosecution described the case against the Mafia Cops as "the bloodiest, most violent betrayal of the badge this city has ever seen".

The duo began as well-regarded policemen.

Caracappa, in an ironic twist, helped establish the city police department's office for Mafia murder probes.

Eppolito, the son of a Gambino crime family member, was a respected street officer.

Yet somewhere along the line the men entered into a blood tie with the murderous Brooklyn mobster Casso.

The go-between was an elderly marijuana dealer, who gave the willing executioners their orders at a Staten Island graveyard and at Long Island highway service stations.

Canary in mouth

Casso referred to the pair as his "crystal ball." For their inside information into the world of law enforcement and their killing skills, he paid out $375,000 over six years.

The murders were described in gruesome detail in court.

Stephen Caracappa
Caracappa helped set up a Mafia murder probe office

The detectives kidnapped James Hydell, stuffed him in a trunk, and turned him over to Casso for torture and execution. His body was never found.

Bruno Facciola was found shot dead in the boot of a car Brooklyn, with a canary in his mouth.

Edward Lino was killed in his Mercedes on the hard shoulder of the Belt Parkway, a New York ring road, after being pulled over for a routine traffic check.

This was no ordinary court case. When he was first freed on bail last summer, Eppolito lifted his trouser leg at reporters to reveal the monitoring anklet underneath.

Insisting on innocence

The jury learnt at one point how Caracappa had run a background check on his future wife through the police Bureau of Criminal Identification.

Eppolito and Caracappa insisted they were innocent before the trial, yet did not take the stand in their defence.

After the guilty verdict Andrea Eppolito told waiting reporters: "People have called this the worst case of corruption New York has ever seen but it was not on the part of my father and not on the part of Stephen Caracappa. It was on the part of the government."

The men will be sentenced on 22 May and face life in prison.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
The crimes committed by the two detectives



SEE ALSO:
NY police guilty of mafia murders
07 Apr 06 |  Americas
NY cops go on trial in mafia case
14 Mar 06 |  Americas
'Dirty cops' hung out to dry
28 Apr 05 |  Americas
New York cops 'were Mafia hitmen'
11 Mar 05 |  Americas


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