Page last updated at 09:28 GMT, Saturday, 7 March 2009

NY 'mafia cops' get life in jail

Louis Eppolito (left) and Stephen Caracappa. File photo
Eppolito (l) and Carapacca insist they are innocent

Two men have been sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of eight murders as well as other crimes while they were New York policemen.

Stephen Carapacca, 67, and Louis Eppolito, 61, had 44 years' police experience between them.

But they were also secretly on the payroll of Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, the second-in-command of New York's Lucchese mafia family, a court found.

They were convicted in 2006, but legal twists and turns delayed sentencing.

Eppolito was given life in jail plus 100 years and a $4.7m fine (3.3m), while Carapacca got a life term plus 80 years, with a $4.2m fine.

They have no possibility of early release, Judge Jack Weinstein told a federal court in Brooklyn.

Police credentials

The two men were convicted in 2006 of eight murders, attempted murder, blackmail, drug trafficking, money laundering, and passing information to the Lucchese family, one of New York's most notorious mafia families.

One tactic they employed was to use their police credentials to flag down cars so that they could then kill the driver.

But their convictions were initially thrown out in 2006, after a judge ruled that the statute of limitations had expired on the murders.

Last year, an appeals court reversed that decision, reinstating the convictions and paving the way for the sentencing.

"The sentences imposed today bring some measure of closure for the families of the victims of these defendants' unspeakable crimes and for the citizens of the city, whose trust these men betrayed," US Attorney Benton Campbell said after sentencing.

"We are gratified that the defendants will spend the rest of their lives behind bars."

Both men continue to deny involvement in any crime. Mr Eppolito - who had a small role in the 1990 gangland film Goodfellas - told Judge Weinstein:

"I was a hard-working cop. I never hurt anybody. I never kidnapped anybody... I never did any of this."

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