The Brotherhoods: The True Story of Two Cops Who Murdered fo

Re: The Brotherhoods: The True Story of Two Cops Who Murdere

Postby admin » Wed Jun 18, 2014 1:47 am



In custody in the austere high-rise Metropolitan Correctional Center awaiting trial and faced with the prospect of spending the rest of his life behind bars, Casso was consumed by two thoughts: figuring out who was responsible for his capture, and coming up with a means of escaping. Prosecutors in the Eastern District had charged Casso with sixty-seven counts, encompassing his orchestration of fourteen murders, racketeering, and extortion. The case was similar to the one against Vic Amuso, who had been convicted in 1992. Casso knew the deal. He would be tried, convicted, sentenced to an eternity in prison, and shipped to a maximum security concrete hell in Leavenworth, Kansas, or Marion, Illinois, or Terre Haute, Indiana, where Amuso was rotting away. His wife wouldn't come to see him. She had a phobia about prisons. Casso would be another forgotten former tough guy shuffling down a prison hallway. He had to find a way out.

Soon after Casso arrived in the MCC he caught a whiff of marijuana wafting through the cells. Applying his investigative skills, Casso discovered that there were some black inmates who came from the same neighborhood as one of the guards. FBI agents would later learn that the guard smuggled pot and heroin into the MCC for the men, who were facing drug charges. The guard was paid to bring food and alcohol in from a nearby Italian restaurant. He would carry the food into the MCC in an "I Love New York" plastic shopping bag. He placed it in a garbage can, where it would be retrieved and the liquor and food would be gratefully consumed.

Casso became friendly with the guard. While they were talking one day, Casso asked jokingly if the guard knew of a way to escape. The guard said he did. The garage of the MCC, from which prisoners were transported to and from court hearings, had weak security, he said. On the far side of the gates, there was the bustle of Wall Street. Casso could easily disappear into foot traffic if he were able to make it to the street.

A plan was hatched over the weeks and months that followed. Guards in the MCC were rotated through the jobs in the institution every three months to avoid any close relationships developing with prisoners. Shifts also rotated, ensuring no routine would set in that could be tracked and prodded for holes by inmates. Casso would wait until the guard was taking his turn working the midnight shift in the control room.

In the meantime, Casso's guard smuggled in a set of civilian clothing, which Casso stashed in his cell. Casso would impersonate a police officer as he made his way out of the MCC. He would be given a neck chain with an NYPD detective badge to wear along with his civilian clothes. Clay impressions of keys were made for the series of locks Casso would have to open to gain access to the garage area -- his cell, the Counselor's Room, and finally the visitor's room. Once Casso got there, the guard could buzz him out using the remote control in his post in the control room. There was only one guard assigned to patrol outside the garage, and Casso's man said he could make sure that the guard was on the other side of the building when Casso came out. Handcuff keys were obtained from a locksmith for the escape, so Casso could free his hands. Casso hid the handcuff keys in the light above the mirror in his cell.

Payments for the preparations were made through a florist in Brooklyn. The guard would pick up a dozen long-stem red roses, wrapped in floral paper, together with a package waiting under the name "Mr. Anthony." In the same way, Casso arranged to have two guns smuggled in for his use -- a .380 Colt Mustang, and a 9mm. Casso's guy complained that the pistols were too large to be safely smuggled into the MCC. A .25 Beretta was in the roses the next time. The guard told Casso he had succeeded in getting the gun into his locker.

Despite the intricate preparations, external events forced Casso to abandon his approach. After the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993, the ringleader, Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, was held in the MCC awaiting trial and security was greatly increased. A cage door was installed in the garage area that could only be opened with a key. It was no longer possible for the guard to buzz Casso out from the control room.

Casso turned to a second plan. The proposal was to have two people posing as FBI agents come to collect and transport Casso to an attorney meeting. The first Saturday morning of the next calendar quarter of 1993 was selected as the date. The rotation of guards began on that day so it was reasoned the guard would not be familiar with procedures.

"Casso gave the guard a sizable down payment and waited. George Neck Zappola was still on the lam so he arranged for payment. One Saturday morning, Casso was sleeping in his cell when a guard came and let him out of his cell. He told Casso he had an attorney conference and handed him a pass to the third floor. Casso had no such meeting with his lawyer planned. He knew it was his chance -- the corrupt guard had set up the breakout. But Casso had not got the note telling him it was on. Casso wasn't ready with an answer when another guard coming off the elevator asked him what he was doing roaming the halls with no escort. He hadn't even made it off the floor. Furious, Casso asked his guy why he hadn't been warned. The guard said he'd left a note at the florist shop, but the girl working that day put the note in the cash register. She was supposed to give the note to a guy who would get word to Casso through another inmate. Casso's guard was caught taking bribes and put on probation before they got another opportunity."

Talk of escape was constant among the dozens of wiseguys awaiting trial. Prisoners were shuttled by bus between the courthouses in New York City and a medium-security federal prison in Otisville, a small village an hour north of the city set in the rolling horse country in the foothills of the Catskills. Mikey DeSantis, another Luchese detainee, said he had a friend who owned property in the area. DeSantis said that the guy kept horses on his land. The plan DeSantis conveyed to Casso involved a trustee, an inmate allowed to work with less supervision. The Otisville trustee was on a work detail that labored outside the prison every day. On an agreed-upon day, the trustee would substitute DeSantis for a member of his work crew. Once outside the jailhouse walls, DeSantis would cut away from the group and meet up with his contact -- who would be waiting with an extra horse. Together they would ride into the dense woods surrounding the prison. DeSantis said that Casso could join in. "When Casso was sent to Otisville for the Labor Day weekend he checked out the plan -- the lay of the land, the trustee, the chances of success. It was going to be Catskill Cowboys, a real old-time bust-out. But there was one problem. Gaspipe Casso was from Gowanus in Brooklyn. He knew how to shoot pigeons but he didn't know how to ride a horse. In fact he had never ridden a horse in his life and they weren't offering lessons in prison. With great regret, Casso was forced to turn down DeSantis's offer."

As winter of 1993-1994 set in and Casso's March trial date neared, he grew even more desperate. Casso dreamt up the idea of ambushing the bus that transported prisoners from the MCC in lower Manhattan to the Brooklyn federal courthouse. Casso instructed George Neck Zappola to surveil the area. Recently promoted to captain, Zappola had hidden out in California and Florida for a time before returning to New York City to assist Casso and oversee his various business enterprises -- a bagel bakery that supplied McDonald's restaurants, numbers rackets, slot machines. Zappola was a restless fugitive, frequently watching baseball games and fights in bars around Brooklyn and going to Bruno's Hair Salon on 86th Street in Bensonhurst to get a massage and pedicure. Fastidious about his appearance, obsessed with his weight, Zappola walked six miles every day. The gold watch he wore was a gift from Casso and it was inscribed, "To George, a true friend, from Anthony." Zappola carried a cell phone, and only Casso had the number. Zappola was Casso's favored killer, now entrusted with coordinating his breakout.

After studying the path the bus followed, Zappola decided the optimal place for an assault was opposite the Jehovah's Witness Watchtower building a few blocks from Brookyln's federal courthouse. The area was mostly industrial, with a warren of streets linked to a series of local avenues and express ramps. Multiple escape routes were available. Casso's crew on the outside would overtake the bus, cut the locks on its doors, and shoot their way in, to free Casso, paramilitary style. The plan for the assault on the bus caused divisions among the Lucheses incarcerated in MCC. Casso was determined to go, and so was Frank Lastorino. But Sal Avellino, another wiseguy facing RICO charges, was going to stay on the bus when the others ran. Mike DeSantis was also going to stay on the bus. DeSantis had the horseback plan in Otisville to fall back on.

The plan had a certain savage elegance but presented enormous difficulties. First, the plotters had to be sure Casso was actually on the bus on the day they struck, a difficult thing to accomplish due to tightly restricted communications with prisoners. An acting Luchese capo visited Casso in the MCC often. In preparation for the escape, Casso and his capo surreptitiously swapped running shoes during one visit. The shoes worn by prisoners were standard-issue rubber-soled laceless sneakers. There were two electronic signal devices hidden in the soles of the pair Casso kept. The crew on the outside would be able to detect the signal and know that Casso was on the bus when they hit it. Planning continued into the New Year as Casso's collaborators monitored his hearing dates.

Finally, their chance came. Early in 1994, on a cold winter day, Casso was in court by dawn. At ten in the morning the capo took up his position at the corner of Cadman Plaza and Tillary Street, outside the Brooklyn federal courthouse, waiting for the prisoner bus to emerge from the gated sally port. As soon as he received the signal from Casso's sneaker, the capo would contact one of the crew by radio. The attack would begin. But hours passed and the bus failed to emerge from the courthouse. The capo remained on his watch until two-thirty in the afternoon when he abandoned his post due to the cold. He hadn't received Casso's signal. The bus was delayed that day due to the extreme weather. Casso didn't return to the MCC until five-thirty.

There was another matter preying on Casso's mind. Sitting in the MCC, Casso replayed the sequence of events that had led to his arrest. To a mobster like Casso, there were no coincidences. The proximity in time of Kaplan's warning about FBI surveillance and Casso's arrest was nearly conclusive to Casso. Only a matter of days had passed before the FBI smashed their way into the house on Waterloo Road in rural New Jersey. There were reasons Kaplan might turn Casso in. Kaplan owed Casso a huge amount of money, a powerful motive for him to give away his longtime collaborator and thus erase the debt. Kaplan had also recently been caught up in an allegation involving the sale of Peruvian passports to Hong Kong businessmen looking to acquire an alternative nationality before the Chinese took over the legendary port city. While others had been convicted in the scam, Kaplan escaped unscathed.

"Kaplan skating on the Peruvian passport case was too much for Casso. The only way to explain Kaplan's not being in prison was that he was a rat. Casso decided to get rid of Burt Kaplan. He gave the hit to George Neck Zappola. Word was passed along the Luchese hierarchy about the Jewish businessman who had been Casso's partner for nearly a decade. Kaplan wore thick glasses and was known to have bad vision. 'Get the one-eyed guy,' Casso said."

In the MCC Casso had been able to rely upon assistance from the Lucheses still on the street. The family gave him the slim but real possibility of escape. But in February 1994 Casso was abandoned by the Lucheses, on the orders of Vic Amuso. The reasons were Byzantine but perfectly matched the logic Casso applied in ordering the murder of Kaplan. After Amuso's conviction, he had written to Casso from prison asking him to ask Kaplan to ask "the cops" how Amuso came to be arrested making calls at a pay phone in a Pennsylvania mall. The note was found when Casso was arrested. "I am still very puzzled how they nailed me on Black Sunday," Amuso wrote to Casso. "I'm surprised you never got the true story. That was my last call there that day. I had a new number for you. Too late now but I'm still looking for the correct story!" The import of the letter was plain. Casso, through Kaplan and "the cops," could access the intelligence files of the FBI and NYPD to discover who was behind the plot to reveal Amuso's location. Casso's failure to ask "the cops" raised the implication that Casso had something to hide. There was only a small leap from there to Casso's complicity in Amuso's capture. "Amuso gave the order that no Lucheses were to cooperate with Casso in his escape plans. Zappola was told to call off the plan for the assault on the prison bus. It was the prison equivalent of the Puccini aria. Sola, perduta, abandonata. Starring in his own soap opera, Casso was alone, lost, abandoned."

By the beginning of March, with Casso's trial only weeks away, his situation then grew even more dire. On March 2, an article appeared in the New York Times that offered the first public interview of a major mafia figure who had become a cooperator. Tumac Accetturo, the man Casso had so desperately wished to kill, had just been convicted of racketeering and extortion charges. He faced a sentence of thirty to sixty years. He was also still the subject of an outstanding murder contract ordered by Casso. Like so many other mobsters at the time, Accetturo decided to cooperate. Accetturo, Casso knew, would pile still more intelligence about Luchese operations atop what D'Arco and Chiodo had already given to the FBI. The case against Casso only became stronger as time passed. "Accetturo talking to the press was a new wrinkle. Law enforcement was winning on all fronts and at all levels. There was a propagandistic purpose to parsing out information from cooperators to newspapers. Gangsters like Casso felt a lot uneasier. Everyone was caving, it seemed at the time. The perception was bad for mob morale."

Interviewed by New York Times mafia specialist Selwyn Raab, Accetturo recited the reasons he had decided to become a cooperating witness for the government. First and foremost was the degradation of the "values" of the mafia. He said he had grown up in the old mafia tradition, when becoming a made man was "an honorable and respectable thing, like a dream, like some people want to become a doctor," he said. "In them days, we were disciplined and coordinated."

Accetturo said he had tried to avoid resorting to violence in running the affairs of his faction of the Lucheses. By contrast, Amuso and Casso were addicted to murder. "They had no training, no honor. All they want to do is kill, kill, kill, get what you can, even if you didn't earn it," the Jersey capo told the New York Times. When he decided to cooperate, Accetturo had turned to a New Jersey organized crime police officer who had pursued him for years -- a man he'd known since childhood in Orange, New Jersey. Accetturo and Bobby Buccino had opted for brotherhoods on the opposite sides of the law. Accetturo had gone into crime; Buccino had become a policeman. "The mafia is no longer an honorable secret society," the New York Times quoted Accetturo saying. "There is no glamour like in the movies and most of the families are becoming street gangs. Either you wind up in the can, your life finished like me, or dead."

Prosecutors now had a mountain of evidence on Casso. His former comrades would take the stand, raise their right hand, and exact revenge on the man who had tried to kill them. The walls were closing in on him. Once he was convicted he would be shipped to some distant federal penitentiary, where he had no contacts. There would be no way to bust out. He would be finished and forgotten.

"Casso did what he always did best -- he calculated. There were a lot of ways he could help the government if he became a cooperator himself. He could close the DeCicco murder for them. He could solve the murders of Jimmy Bishop and Otto Heidel and Anthony DiLapi. Casso could testify against Vincent Chin Gigante, the Genovese boss pretending to be mentally incompetent, who was about to stand trial. The chances of getting a deal were decent. Casso might get a sentence reduction. He might do twenty years, which wasn't bad considering we'd charged him with fourteen murders. But if he wanted the real deal, the Sammy the Bull Gravano deal, he would have to give up more than a bunch of mob murders. Gravano gave the federal government their number one target -- John Gotti. To get what Gravano got, Casso had to give prosecutors in the Eastern District something they couldn't resist. Casso needed a bombshell -- and he had one."


Arranging to become a cooperator was not a straightforward matter. In order to betray his brother mobsters Casso first had to deceive them. Casso had to engineer a way to contact the government without tipping off his co-accused. If the government didn't agree to Casso's cooperating, or if a deal couldn't be struck, he needed to be able to return to custody and trial without it emerging that he had tried to flip. Of all people, Casso understood the consequences for a made man if he ratted, or tried to rat. Casso had a trusted blood relative approach the FBI Special Agent in charge of Casso's case, Richard Rudolph. If a deal could be struck, the relative told Rudolph, Casso might be interested in becoming a cooperator.

"The offer was intriguing and revolting at the same time. Everyone in law enforcement knew about Gaspipe Casso. He was the kind of man cops become cops to catch. The government had a strong case against Casso. Amuso had just been convicted. But the first Windows Case had gone poorly. Chiodo wasn't the greatest witness. D'Arco was loud and abrasive on the stand. Prosecutors have to weigh intangibles like credibility in making decisions. Strip away all the science of organized crime cases -- photographs, wire taps, physical evidence -- the human component is at the heart of the law. Would Gaspipe Casso be convicted? Probably. Was there a chance he would walk and return to the streets of Brooklyn to throw a homecoming party and kill his many enemies? Maybe.

"And then there was the information Casso might give us. Casso promised he had more than even Sammy the Bull Gravano had. Gotti had been the icon of organized crime for half a decade. His conviction changed the whole tone of life in New York City. The message was incredibly powerful, to real gangsters and to wannabes. How could Casso top that?

"Casso had the answer. Casso had the 'crystal ball.' With killer cops on offer, there was no way Assistant United States Attorneys Charles Rose and Gregory O'Connell could turn down the offer. With the right structure, prosecutors could have their cake and eat it too. Casso would give them everything he had. He would plead guilty to multiple racketeering crimes. Casso might even think he was going to get five years in a special housing unit for snitches and then a new identity and life in a suburb of a distant Sun belt city.

"Gravano's deal was an attractive fantasy for Casso -- one we didn't discourage when we were dealing with cooperators. Every pitch I ever made to gangsters trying to get them to flip included mentioning the deal Sammy Gravano got. I did it with killers of many ethnicities and proclivities. I told them I couldn't promise, but I wanted them to think that if he had managed to walk then maybe they could too. It wasn't precisely a bait and switch but dealing with a man like Casso involved psychological manipulation. Some criminals respond to carrots, some respond to sticks. All the government can do, Casso was told, was promise to write a letter to his sentencing judge detailing the nature and value of his cooperation. Only the judge could decide if a lesser sentence was justified. Casso was trapped and desperate. He was eager to make a deal, and there was no point in pricking his hopes about how good it might be. The minute he became a cooperator we had him."

"'Queen for a Day' was prosecutor slang for the agreement Casso signed. In the fifties a television game show offered the winning contestant -- the one who had the saddest and hardest life -- the grand prize of one day with no responsibilities. She was showered with gifts -- new dishwasher, vacuum cleaner, her favorite cleaning products. The same was true for criminals like Casso looking to make a deal. Casso came in for one day and told us everything he would tell us, under oath and for the record, if he became a cooperator. He pitched us. We needed to know what we were going to get before we agreed. If there was no deal, and the accused took the stand in his own defense at trial, we could use his statements as evidence to impeach him. Otherwise, he had no legal exposure for what he confessed. The arrangement allowed each side to figure out if Gaspipe Casso was the unlikely queen of the borough of Brooklyn."

On the last day of his life as a mobster, Casso telephoned his wife, Lillian. She ran a lingerie shop in Brooklyn. "Sell the store," he told her, "take the money, take the kids, and go to Florida. I'll never see you again." A sale was duly announced. "Buy 2, Get 1 Free," a sign said. "Limited Time Offer." Next a story had to be invented to provide Casso the excuse to leave the MCC without his co-defendants, Richard the Toupee Pagliarulo and Frank Lastorino. In normal circumstances, with wiseguys warily watching each other for any sign of betrayal, co-defendants moved in unison. Early on the morning of Tuesday, March 1, 1994, Casso boarded the van leaving for the Brooklyn courthouse. Five Colombos up on RICO charges themselves were in the van with Casso. "I go to trial next week," Casso said to the Colombos. "Can you believe it, I gotta give handwriting samples today." "You're kidding," one of the Colombos said. "I ain't kidding," Casso replied.

Appearing before Judge Eugene Nickerson, Casso pled guilty to fourteen counts of murder conspiracy. Then he was flown to a military base outside EI Paso, Texas. La Tuna was the correctional facility where Joe Cargo Valachi had been taken three decades earlier when he became the first made man to break the mafia's code of silence.

As New York Times mafia reporter Selwyn Raab wrote in his magisterial history Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires, Casso was housed in the "Valachi Suite." Kept in a six-by-nine cell at night, by day he had access to his own television, refrigerator, and hot plate. The temperature in the rooms in the arid desert heat was regulated by a "swamp cooler," which circulated cool water through the piping. Federal prosecutor Charlie Rose, son of an NYPD motorcycle cop and a legendary federal prosecutor from Brooklyn, conducted the debriefing along with his colleague Greg O'Connell. The lawyers were entertained by Casso's obsessive cleaning of his suite; he continuously wiped up crumbs from the cakes he enjoyed serving with tea. For reading material, Casso asked for the Robb Report, a magazine dedicated to the "luxury lifestyle."

Sitting with Rose and O'Connell, and a procession of FBI agents, Casso spent months recounting his life of crime. Over the years, it emerged, Casso had participated in or ordered not fourteen but thirty-six murders. Law enforcement knew that Gaspipe Casso was a dangerous man -- one of the worst criminals in the history of Brooklyn -- but the scale of his depravity was breathtaking. "I have done proffers with all kinds of killers," Oldham said. "I once debriefed a Cuban hit man who had murdered forty people. Casso was like that. Killing was a way of life."

Casso began by telling Rose that he had been plotting to murder him. It wasn't because Rose was trying to put him in prison; that was just his job. Casso had a personal grudge against Rose. Casso thought that Rose had been the source of the Newsday article that speculated that Casso's wife was having an affair with Anthony Fava, the architect whose murder Casso had ordered. As a lawman, in Casso's view, Rose should have known better than to publicly dishonor another man like that. Casso also explained to Rose that he knew Rose was a prosecutor in the Windows Case and that Rose had debriefed Fat Pete Chiodo when he flipped. Casso figured Chiodo was responsible for starting the rumor of his wife's infidelity as a way of getting at Casso.

Casso then upped the stakes. He told Rose he had employed two NYPD detectives to assist in finding out where Rose lived. Casso's "cops" had supplied him with a post office box in the Hamptons and an address on Park Avenue South. Casso said he had sent George Neck Zappola to search for Rose, with orders to kill. Zappola had set up surveillance outside the federal courthouse in the Eastern District. To Rose's colleague, O'Connell, Casso had gone too far. The government dealt with all kinds of killers but O'Connell felt plotting to kill a federal official was beyond the pale. To do a deal with Casso, to help him get a lesser sentence, put federal officials in jeopardy. Morally, ethically, politically, Casso was unusable. Rose disagreed. Using Casso was worth the risk. Casso was too valuable not to use. Casso could destroy the Luchese family. Casso could unravel the last great mafia conspiracy.

"I forgive you, Anthony," Rose said. "Let's continue."
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Re: The Brotherhoods: The True Story of Two Cops Who Murdere

Postby admin » Wed Jun 18, 2014 1:48 am



Scattered through Casso's story was the recurring, evolving, blood-soaked conspiracy involving the two NYPD detectives he called "the crystal ball." The tale didn't emerge in chronological order. Casso's story was chaotic, bouncing erratically from scheme to scam to murder conspiracy. Debriefings were done by a number of FBI Special Agents, some with little knowledge of the overarching cases. Events were recorded as Casso recalled them, or as needed to assist with ongoing prosecutions. The litany of Casso's crimes included virtually every imaginable form of criminality. Kidnapping, drug running, extortion, bid rigging, murder, murder, and murder.

Nonetheless, the conspiracy that had been hidden for nearly a decade was now revealed in all its complexity. Casso told Rose and O'Connell that he had been paying off two NYPD detectives. The officers in question were senior figures inside the force. One detective worked in the Major Case Squad, he said. The other was assigned to the Six-Three Detective Squad. "The sickening sense we had for years -- the gut-wrenching feeling that something was deeply wrong inside the force -- was confirmed by Casso. The tale sprawled over years, shifting from Brooklyn to L.A. and Florida, with timelines crisscrossing and conspiracies compounding in a bewildering but believable manner. Inside all the insanity, Casso's narration was devastatingly credible."

Word by word, day by day, the prosecutors and detectives assembled the chilling legacy of the "crystal ball." The beginning of the story of the "crystal ball" had been the turning point in Casso's life -- the moment that divided everything that happened to him into "before" and "after." Before, Casso had been a rising power in the 19th Hole Crew in the Luchese family. Later, Casso had two members of the New York City Police Department working as informants for him. Before, he was just another mobster, albeit an unusually cunning and cruel one. After, he was one of the most connected made men in the history of the mafia. Before, he was a killer and thug. After, he was a clairvoyant, able to foresee events as if granted supernatural powers.

The tale began on the evening of September 14, 1986. It was pleasant in Brooklyn, a warm autumn breeze stirring under a clear sky. Casso had an appointment to meet his nephew Vincent "Fat Vinny" DiPierro at a strip mall in the Mill Basin section of Brooklyn. Earlier that day Fat Vinny had called Casso with a business proposition. DiPierro had been approached by a Gambino associate named Jimmy Hydell, who claimed he had a "huge" number of stolen checks he wanted to sell. One of Casso's many criminal pursuits was fencing stolen financial instruments. Through Burt Kaplan, who had connections in New York's Hasidic Jewish community, Casso was able to quickly move hot negotiables like blank checks.

A rendezvous was set for eight o'clock at a mall at the corner of Veteran's Avenue and East 71st Street in Brooklyn, not far from Casso's house. Casso arrived early, purchased an ice-cream cone at Carvel, and sat in his gold Lincoln Town Car waiting for Hydell to meet with DiPierro. "Casso knew Hydell. They were friendly. But he wouldn't deal directly with him. Always cautious, Casso used Fat Vinny as his front for the transaction so Hydell wouldn't know he was dealing with Casso. Casso was not going to give away information that could be used against him if Hydell got in trouble and became an informant. But Hydell knew Casso too. Hydell knew how Casso operated. He knew Fat Vinny would go to Casso with the deal. Hydell didn't have any blank checks to sell."

That evening, Fat Vinny waited for Hydell inside a Chinese restaurant called the Golden Ox. At seven-thirty a blue Plymouth Fury circled the intersection. Three men were inside the Fury. Bob Bering, the driver, was a former New York City transit policeman who had turned to a life of crime. A big and fierce-looking OC associate named Nicky Guido was in the passenger seat armed with a 9mm automatic and a .38 revolver. Jimmy Hydell, the Gambino associate, was in the backseat with two shotguns. "Hydell had been hired to kill Casso by a Gambino gangster named Michael 'Mickey Boy' Paradiso. Paradiso told Hydell the contract came from the Gambino family. Gotti was supposed to want revenge for the murder of Frank DeCicco. The hit was supposedly retribution. But the real reason was simple. Paradiso and Casso were fighting over money from a heroin deal."

The Hydell crew had been clocking Casso for weeks but he was far too smart and paranoid for them. He didn't follow any routine. He was expert at "watching his mirrors" -- to make sure he wasn't being tailed by cops or gangsters. A few nights earlier, Casso had spotted Nicky Guido set up on him outside a Brooklyn restaurant. Casso was eating dinner when a waiter came up to him and said there was a suspicious-looking man sitting in front of the restaurant. Casso went to the window and saw Guido in a small red sports car looking like the poster child for armed thugs.

The three hunters constituted a particularly sinister trio. Nicky Guido was a standard-issue criminal: a day laborer when he had to work, a thief and hired muscle the rest of the time. Bering, the ex-cop, was a drug dealer with a bus company who'd managed to finagle a city contract to transport handicapped school kids -- one of the most corrupt businesses in the city. Hydell and Bering had met on Rikers Island in the early eighties, where they were both serving time. "Bering was in his forties, Hydell was twenty-six, but they teamed up. By 1986 they were killers. Earlier that year, Hydell and Bering murdered a made man named Jack D'Angelo. A little while later, Hydell shot the manager of a school bus company, in front of his house in Great Kills on Staten Island. Joe Trinetto was caught in the middle of a disagreement with Bob Bering. Hydell had used the same trick a Luchese team used with Otto Heidel -- he let the air out of Trinetto's tires and killed him as he was jacking up the car.

In April of that year Hydell discovered that his girlfriend, Annette DiBiasi, was having an affair with a married man. Hydell and Bering snatched her as she walked out the door of her house. DiBiasi was a nice girl from all reports, caught up with the wrong guy. Hydell raped her in the van. Then he and Bering wrapped her body in a tarp, naked and alive, and drove to a wooded area near the Richmond Parkway on Staten Island. Hydell had already dug a grave in the woods. As they were carrying her into the forest Bering slipped and she rolled out of the tarpaulin. Hydell sent Bering back to the car and dumped her in the grave, where he shot her five times with a .22. Hydell cut up her clothes and credit cards and wallet with scissors and tossed them out of the window of the van as they drove along the Jersey Turnpike.

As the trio circled that September evening waiting for the moment to kill Casso, Hydell and Guido were both wearing hunting camouflage, their faces covered with masks. The Fury looked like a police detective's vehicle: there was a siren and Bering had placed a "teardrop," the revolving red light used by the NYPD, on the dashboard. "The combined IQ in that Fury didn't break double digits. Hydell had purloined a set of stolen license plates to put on the car. But there was a mix-up. Bering had taken his own plates from the car and put them on top of the refrigerator at his place. Guido was staying with Bering at the time. One of the two masterminds took the plates from the top of the fridge and put them back on the Fury. As a result, Bering's own plates were on the Fury."

At eight o'clock they came upon Casso parked in the bus stop in front of the mall eating his ice-cream cone. A bus pulled into the stop. Bering didn't stop; he knew the bus was equipped with a radio. If they opened up on Casso, the bus driver would call in and police would descend with potentially risky dispatch. Minutes later they returned to the intersection. Casso was still sitting in his car licking his ice-cream cone but there was no bus in sight. The Fury pulled alongside Casso's Town Car. "There was less than a foot between the vehicles. Hydell raised his 12-gauge and opened fire. Nicky Guido, sitting on the passenger side, started to fire his 9 millimeter -- but of course the gun jammed. It should have been a shooting gallery. Hydell was letting rip with a 12-gauge but he was either a terrible shot or too afraid to take aim. He nailed the Town Car. The windows were shattered. The doors were pocked with slug holes. But Bering and Hydell managed the nearly impossible -- from point-blank range they didn't kill Casso."

Casso was struck by pellets in the shoulder and neck from the shotgun blasts. He rolled to the floor of the passenger side and opened the door to the Town Car and crawled to the sidewalk while the shooting continued. Once on his feet, he made for the door of the Golden Ox. He stumbled through the restaurant, grabbing a tablecloth to stanch the bleeding as he went. Casso proceeded through the restaurant, descended into the basement, and entered the walk-in freezer. No one told the police Casso was hiding in the freezer. The employees and customers were too scared. At first Casso was hiding in case the shooters came after him. After a while he was hiding from the police. He didn't want to talk to the NYPD. His wounds were painful but not life-threatening. When he was certain it was safe, he left the freezer and called Amuso and told him to come pick him up.

Fat Vinny, Casso's obese young cousin, was inspecting the damage to Casso's car as the police arrived on the scene. Investigators quickly determined that the victim of the shooting was Gaspipe Casso. The car was registered to Progressive Distributors Inc., a Staten Island clothing company controlled by Burt Kaplan. Later that night detectives found Casso in the hospital being treated for gunshot wounds. Casso didn't want to talk to the police about the attempted murder. "There's nobody who doesn't like me," he told the police. "I don't know nothing about organized crime."

But of course there were dozens of people who might want to kill Casso. Even the short list was long. Brooklyn South Homicide caught the case. Fortunately for the police, and unfortunately for the Hydell hit squad, the intersection of Veteran's Avenue and East 71st Street was teeming with eyewitnesses. Detective Thomas Kenney, a retired member of the NYPD who worked as a security guard, told investigators he heard the gunfire and then watched the blue Fury careen away from the strip mall, make a U-turn, and speed toward him. Kenney had reached for his gun but said the Fury appeared to be a police car so he didn't shoot or display his gun. He took down the license plate number: 2778TCG. The plate was registered to Bob Bering. Within days the Fury was found abandoned on Daffodil Lane on Staten Island. The fingerprints of Bob Bering and Nicky Guido were found on the interior of the car. Detective Powell was making excellent progress.

Unknown to the NYPD, there was another investigation racing toward its conclusion. Convalescing in the hospital, Anthony Casso didn't cooperate with the NYPD investigation. He wasn't interested in having the case closed by arrests. Casso wanted to close the case himself -- his way. He didn't just want the lowly soldiers who had pulled the trigger. Casso wanted the man behind the man. "As a detective, Casso was resourceful and determined. He had leads. He knew better than anyone who might want him dead. The order had to come from the upper level of one of the other families. No one tried to whack a made man without approval from a boss. Casso was going to find out who came after him and why."

Jimmy Hydell, Bob Bering, and Nicky Guido were under no illusion about the magnitude of the mistake they had made. They each figured Casso would be able to find their houses and have them killed. But that was only one of their many problems. Missing Casso meant that the plot to kill him would be revealed if the three shooters weren't killed first. It followed that Mickey Boy Paradiso himself would want to make sure they remained silent. Put together, they had the Lucheses, Gambinos, and NYPD chasing them all at once. "The first night they hid out at a Holiday Inn. Guido slept with his gun. The next day, Bering packed up his belongings and moved to Long Island. Guido took to carrying a .380 automatic. Hydell grew paranoid -- an attack could come from anywhere, at any time. He already had reason to be afraid of the law because of the murder of Annette DiBiasi. He was a tough, tough kid. No one was going to take him down without a fight."

After a few days Casso was released from the hospital. The Luchese underboss quickly gathered his own leads. First he was approached by a close associate named Anthony Senter, a member of the Roy DeMeo crew, which was earning the richly deserved moniker Murder Inc. at the time. Senter told Casso that a guy named Bob Bering had been asking questions about Casso's car at a bus company near Casso's home a few days before the attempt. The next day, Casso was approached by Colombo wiseguy Jimmy Angellino, who said he had information for Casso. Angellino was Big Sal Miciotta's partner, but Sal was doing a stretch in Allenwood. Angellino said he had a lead for Casso. They met at Christy Tick Furnari's mother's house. One of the Colombo family's Saponaro brothers was there, along with James "Jimmy Brown" Failla and Joseph "Joe Piney" Armone from the Gambino family. Angellino told the assembled group that the son of one of the Saponaros learned that Jimmy Hydell had been overheard talking about trying to murder Casso.

Hydell was a big muscular kid with curly blond hair, a crooked smile, and connections on his father's side to Corrado "Dino" Marino of the Gambino family. Still in his early twenties, he was already acquiring a name for being violent and dangerous -- qualities that gave him cachet with Casso. "Casso liked Hydell. He had helped him get a job with a union, and they saw each other around wiseguy haunts. Keeping tabs on young guys like Hydell was part of the job description for Casso. He needed to know about kids with potential -- kids who were 'capable.' With all five families operating in the same geographic space, with territories overlapping along with business interests and disputes, it was crucial to know the range of potential associates -- and threats." [1]

The tip about Hydell was good intelligence but not evidence. Wheels moved within wheels in the mafia. The Colombos could be collaborating in a fake story to mislead Casso and start a war with the Gambinos. The possibilities baffled Casso as much as they did the investigators. Disputes were one way of measuring the range of people who might want to kill Casso. On that score, Mickey Boy Paradiso was another leading candidate. The foul-mouthed Gambino soldier had just been released from prison after serving eight years on a hijacking conviction. "Paradiso was nearly Casso's equal when it came to crazy. In the seventies he had slapped John Gotti in the face, and lived to tell the story. At the time, Casso and Paradiso were brawling over chopping up the proceeds of a heroin deal. Historically, interfamily arguments were resolved through official channels. Normally, Paradiso and the Gambinos and Casso and the Lucheses would submit their disagreement to the Commission. But the members of the Commission were on trial in federal court. They didn't have time to resolve disputes."

As soon as Casso was released from the hospital, Burton Kaplan contacted him and suggested he had a way of getting information that might help Casso find out who tried to kill him. Kaplan was not a "made" member of the Lucheses but he was a highly valued collaborator of Casso's. Kaplan operated by doing favors for Casso. Kaplan didn't ask for money in return. Casso's gratitude was expressed by the protection the association provided. Kaplan was "with" Casso and that meant he was not to be touched.

For the first time, Anthony Casso heard of the connection Kaplan had inside law enforcement. Kaplan said he knew two NYPD detectives who could assist Casso with his investigation. The two cops were good guys, Kaplan said to Casso. Reliable. Trustworthy. Efficient. Kaplan told Casso how he had used the pair earlier that year. Kaplan had been involved in a stolen Treasury bill scam. The deal went bad, sparking an Interpol investigation. Kaplan decided he needed to find and kill two jewelry dealers who had failed to keep up their end of the deal -- and might snitch on Kaplan. Kaplan went to a local hood named Frank Santora Jr., whom he knew from Allenwood Federal Prison. When they were inmates together, Santora had told Kaplan he had a cousin who was in the NYPD. His cousin was willing to do "things," if Kaplan ever needed help.

Kaplan told Casso he had hired Santora and his detective cousin and his partner, also an NYPD detective, to find the jeweler who had kept money he was supposed to have passed along. The jeweler knew he was in trouble with Kaplan so he would be wary and difficult to apprehend. Kaplan gave Santora and the two cops the jeweler's name, address, car make, and license plate number. The three men tailed the jeweler onto the New York State Thruway and pulled him over using lights. The two NYPD detectives flashed their shields and told the jeweler he was a suspect in a hit-and-run accident. He was told to accompany them for a lineup. The jeweler complied, and vanished. Kaplan told Casso that he was impressed by the level of service provided.

"They done a piece of work for me," Kaplan said to Casso. "I can vouch for them. We can trust them."

In the normal course of business, Casso would be unlikely to agree to any dealings with NYPD officers on the take. The risks outstripped the rewards, at least potentially. There was no need to have cops working for him in the first place. He didn't need to hire hit men. Unlike Kaplan, Casso had a handy supply of killers who would carry out his orders. Less important, there was an ethic in the mafia that made men should not associate with law enforcement. The possibility of contamination was too great. The less a mobster like Casso had to do with cops, dirty or straight, the better. "But Casso was in peril. No one would have tried to kill him without the backing of some major players. Casso needed to find the people who had given the order, before they tried again. The tip about Hydell from the Colombos was a solid lead. But it didn't amount to proof, not the kind Casso needed. Gaspipe wanted rock-solid evidence that Hydell was acting on behalf of someone. Then Casso could go after his real target."

The attack on Casso occurred within the jurisdiction of the Six-Three, the precinct where Santora's cousin, the detective, worked. He would have access to information about the progress of the investigation. Kaplan suggested it was worth asking his "friends" to get it. Casso agreed. "In those days Casso trusted Kaplan as much as he trusted anyone in the underworld. If Kaplan believed the two detectives could help, Casso was willing to try. Kaplan was cautious. He didn't want to reveal to Casso the identities of his sources in the NYPD. When he told Casso the story about the jeweler, Kaplan didn't use names. Kaplan was interested in ingratiating himself with Casso, for a variety of reasons. But the less Casso knew about Kaplan's 'friends' the less risk everyone was taking."

Kaplan contacted Santora. Within days, Santora gave Kaplan a manila NYPD folder. Kaplan opened the folder and was amazed at what was inside. The crime scene reports detailed the investigation into the attempted murder of Anthony Casso. The DD-Ss were comprehensive, detailing all the investigative leads chased down by NYPD detectives. There were photographs of the crime scene showing Casso's car. The license plate on the blue Fury -- the plate registered in Bering's name -- was recorded: "2778TCG." A list of suspects was included in the file. The names of Jimmy Hydell, Bob Bering, and Nicky Guido were on the list. The file included Hydell's criminal record, his address, and a photograph. The folder was precisely what Casso was desperate to get. Kaplan immediately went to Swaggy Carlucci's social club on 13th Avenue. He found Casso there with Amuso. Kaplan risked toying with Casso for a moment, a rare liberty.

"Gas, you know who shot you?" Kaplan asked cockily.

Casso was indignant.

"No," he snapped. "And you don't either."

Casso was already aware that Jimmy Hydell was the leader of the crew that came after him. But letting Kaplan know that he knew was a different matter for a number of reasons. Casso didn't want word out that he was after Hydell. If and when Hydell disappeared, or turned up dead in the trunk of a car in Canarsie, the fewer people who knew about Casso's involvement the better.

"It was Jimmy Hydell," Kaplan said.

Casso feigned surprise and skepticism. "You're crazy," he said. "I just got him a union job. We made friends. We been close for the last year."

"Here," Kaplan said, handing Casso the manila folder. "See for yourself."

Casso opened the folder and found the NYPD reports on his attempted murder. He flicked through the documents that Kaplan believed provided new and vital information for Casso -- priceless information. Casso pulled out the photographs of Hydell and Bob Bering. He saw the name Nicky Guido. From Casso's point of view, the NYPD file was impressive. It confirmed the version of events given to him by the Colombos. Kaplan's "guys" had done an excellent piece of work.

"What do I owe them for this?" Casso asked.

"They wouldn't take no money," Kaplan said. "They wouldn't take no money because someone was looking to hurt you and they don't want money under these circumstances. This is just to show you the kind of thing they would do."

Casso shook his head.

"Boy, that's really nice," he said. "They must be really good guys."

Dozens of mobsters now trolled the streets of Brooklyn and Staten Island looking for Jimmy Hydell. The Gambinos wanted Hydell dead before he could talk. Casso wanted him taken alive so he could talk. If Hydell was alive Casso could definitively say who had ordered him to kill Casso. If Hydell confessed -- and Casso had no moral compunction about using torture to extract information -- Casso could prove to other mobsters who was behind the attempt.

Weeks passed as the hunt continued, with Hydell eluding Casso's capture. Kaplan came to his associate with a startling suggestion. He said "his guys" knew "the kid Hydell." If Casso was interested they would "take care" of him. Casso recognized it was an opportunity not to be ignored. Hydell would fight to the death if any gangsters tried to take him. But if Hydell thought he was being questioned by two cops, if he thought it was a routine roust, he would have no reason to resist.

"They could attempt to arrest Hydell," Casso suggested to Kaplan. "He would go willingly with them."

"What do you want to pay?" Kaplan asked.

"What do you think they'll take?" Casso asked.

Kaplan told Casso he had paid $30,000 for grabbing the jeweler. Kaplan suggested $35,000 would be sufficient. Casso approved the offer. Kaplan called Frank Santora Jr. and they discussed the job and the price. Kaplan emphasized that Hydell was to be taken alive at all costs. Casso wanted the chance to interrogate him. Santora agreed to the job. He asked Kaplan to have Casso supply a car -- one that looked like a police detective's unmarked car.

To get "the cops" a vehicle, Casso contacted Luchese soldier Patty Testa, who was in the used-car business. A nondescript four-door sedan was purchased. Kaplan sent his assistant, Tommy Galpine, to collect the car from Testa; Kaplan was on parole and had to be careful not to be seen associating with known mobsters like Testa. Casso, by contrast, had no recent criminal record and posed no risk to Kaplan's parole. Galpine delivered the car to a lot to be collected by Kaplan's "cops" and the search began.

"As if he didn't have enough to be concerned about, Hydell still had the added trouble of being the target of the investigation of the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend Annette DiBiasi. DiBiasi was not just another gangland casualty. She was an innocent young woman with a concerned family. She had been missing for six months and finding her killer had become an obsession for investigators. Detective Al Guarneri of Brooklyn's Six-Two, Louis Eppolito's brother-in-law, was working the case. Guarneri was in regular contact with Hydell but Guarneri was terrified of him -- for good reason. Hydell was volatile. Guarneri had begun to take a police radio home with him, in case he was attacked by Hydell."

Without a confession or solid evidence there was no way to arrest Hydell. At the same time, Mickey Boy Paradiso's brother, Philly, agreed to wear a wire and try to get Hydell to implicate himself in the murder of Annette DiBiasi. George Terra, an investigator from the Brooklyn DA, and an FBI Special Agent named George Hanna made it clear to Philly Paradiso that if he wanted to avoid a long stretch in prison he'd better catch Hydell on tape and bring them DiBiasi's body.

With all the forces moving against Hydell, it was a miracle he was still at large and alive. He could be arrested or killed at any moment. After a few weeks Casso came to Kaplan's house on a Saturday afternoon. He was agitated. Casso wanted Hydell nabbed as soon as possible. Casso wanted to know if Kaplan's "guys" were out looking for Hydell.

Kaplan called Santora. "We gotta get this kid," he said. "Someone is going to kill him and we want him alive," he said.

"They're out looking for him right now," Santora said. He reported that the cops were in Staten Island at that moment.

The date was Saturday, October 18, 1986. Hydell's mother, Betty, was at home doing housework. Jimmy had left the house that morning. His friend Bob Bering had picked him up. Jimmy Hydell didn't tell his mother where he was going or why. He only said Brooklyn. That afternoon, her eighteen-year-old son Frank left home to go to work. Frank returned to the house after a couple of minutes. He told his mother a car had pulled up beside him after slowly passing along Bridgetown Street near the intersection with Bangor Street. Two men in what appeared to be an unmarked police car stopped Frank Hydell. They "tinned" Frank Hydell -- flashed their badges to identify themselves as police officers -- and said they were looking for Jimmy Hydell. Frankie told them they had the wrong Hydell.

Betty Hydell was used to dealing with the police after Annette DiBiasi disappeared and her son Jimmy became a prime suspect. If the police had questions for Jimmy, she believed, they should follow protocol, not prowl and creep along the street outside their house. "Betty Hydell was a nurse by profession but she was also street smart and tough. She wasn't going to let the cops harass her boy without an arrest warrant. She got in her car and went looking for the cops. She pulled up next to them going the opposite direction. She rolled down her window. There was a big man with black hair driving. He was wearing a white shirt and gold necklaces. The small man riding shotgun was dressed in a dark suit. Both were Italian in appearance. The driver flashed his badge."

"You should let people know who you are and what you're doing," Betty Hydell said angrily. "If you're a cop why are you hiding?"

The two NYPD detectives drove away. Betty went home and wrote down the license plate number. Something was wrong, she sensed. At two-forty Jimmy Hydell made a collect call home from a pay phone in Brooklyn. It was the last time Betty Hydell heard her son's voice. He was supposed to meet with Mickey Boy Paradiso in Bensonhurst. The rendezvous was in Dyker Beach Park at 86th Street and 14th Avenue. Hydell's suspicions were running so high, he called Detective Guarneri of the Six-Two to tell him of his whereabouts. Hydell said he was going to see Mickey Boy Paradiso. Telling a cop was a form of insurance for Hydell. If Mickey Boy was setting him up, Hydell could say the police knew where he was and who he was with.

When Hydell reached Dyker Beach Park, "the cops" working for Casso were waiting for him. They arrested Hydell. After they frisked, disarmed, and handcuffed him, they put Hydell in their car. Instead of driving him to a precinct house, the cops took Hydell to a parking lot at 2232 Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn.

That afternoon Kaplan received a beep from Frank Santora Jr. Kaplan left his house. The two had a system of using beepers and public phones to make sure no numbers were captured by law enforcement; Kaplan threw away his cell phones and got new numbers every month or two for security purposes. Kaplan beeped Santora with a number from a public phone. The pay phone rang moments later.

"We got him," Santora said.

"You got to be kidding," Kaplan said. "I only called you half an hour ago."

"What do you want us to do with him?"

"Frankie, I'm going to have to call you back."

Kaplan beeped Casso.

"Do you remember that toy store where we used to meet?" Casso asked Kaplan.

It was a Toys 'R' Us on Flatbush Avenue. "Yes, I remember."

"Can you bring him there? In about an hour."

In the meantime, the cops met with Santora at the parking shed one of them rented in the lot on Nostrand Avenue. The lot had a row of two dozen enclosed parking spots in a fenced area in the rear. They drove up to the door of the shed, opened it, and drove in and closed the door. The area was cramped but large enough for Santora Jr. and the cops to pull Hydell out of the car. Hydell's hands were already handcuffed from the arrest in the park. As he started to struggle, Santora and the two police officers bound his feet with duct tape. They stuffed a handkerchief in his mouth and wound duct tape around his head. Hydell was then shoved into the trunk of the car.

With Hydell thus trussed and hidden, Santora drove the car with Hydell in the trunk. The police officers trailed him in another car they'd left on Nostrand. Hydell was kicking and screaming inside the trunk. The cops followed closely to make sure Hydell didn't draw the attention of a citizen or cop on the drive to the Toys 'R' Us. Put another way, Jimmy Hydell and Frank Santora Jr. had a police escort as they made their way to their meeting place with Burt Kaplan and Gaspipe Casso.

The Toys 'R' Us was a well-known landmark in the outer reaches of Brooklyn, popular with families shopping for their kids because of the ample parking. The large store stood at the farthest end of Flatbush Avenue, where one of the borough's main boulevards meets the Belt Parkway and beyond it the Atlantic Ocean. Mobsters liked it too, for its inconspicuousness and multiple exits. Notified by Kaplan of Hydell's capture, Casso and Amuso proceeded to the rear of the store, near a small canal. Kaplan arrived shortly afterward and parked next to Casso and Amuso. It was late in the day and the store was closed; there were no other cars parked in the back. The Plymouth Fury Santora was driving arrived next. Santora got out of the car. Kaplan got out of his car. They walked toward each other. Santora stopped fifteen feet away from Casso -- keeping a respectful distance. There was no reason for them to interact; Kaplan was the broker of the deal.

"What's up, Frank?" Kaplan asked.

"He was kicking and yelling back there," Santora said. "I had to stop and pull over and punch him out to keep him quiet. You got to be careful he don't start screaming and yelling."

Kaplan took the car keys from Santora and walked back toward Casso. The arrangement was that Casso would take possession of both the Fury and Hydell.

"Who are those two guys?" Casso asked.

Kaplan turned. Two hundred feet away, standing next to their car near the entrance off Flatbush Avenue to the Toys 'R' Us parking lot, were two men. One was big and overweight, the other thin. Kaplan had not been introduced to the two NYPD detectives by Santora, but he had seen them twice and knew who they were. Kaplan walked back to Santora. "What are they doing here?" he asked.

"They followed me to back me up," Santora said.

Kaplan thought it was an excellent gesture -- seeing the job through. Professional. Commendable. Beyond the call of duty.

"That's Frankie's cousin and his partner," Kaplan told Casso.

"They're backing him up."

"Okay," Casso said. "Tell them to get out of here. You get out of here."

The exchange in the Toys 'R' Us parking lot was the only time Gaspipe Casso saw "the cops" in person.
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Re: The Brotherhoods: The True Story of Two Cops Who Murdere

Postby admin » Wed Jun 18, 2014 1:48 am



Behind the wheel of the Plymouth, Casso transported his cargo to the house of an associate in Bergen Beach, who lived close to the Toys 'R' Us, reducing the possibility of being stopped with Hydell in the trunk. Casso had not forewarned his associate but he didn't need to. The guy did the smart thing when Casso commandeered his house -- he left town with his family.

Hydell was bleeding badly when Casso took him from the car. He could easily have choked to death on the blood, Casso thought, curled in the trunk with his arms handcuffed behind him. Hydell was dragged down to the basement. The duct tape was removed from his head and the handkerchief taken from his mouth. The handcuffs were removed. His feet remained bound. The questioning began.

"Torture was a better word for it. Casso had a cruel streak that ran to sadistic. It was the kind of man he was. In the late seventies he was involved in smuggling tons of marijuana and Quaaludes into New York aboard a ship called Terry's Dream. When the boat was seized, Casso and Amuso and their posse decided the son of the captain had to be killed. His name was Dave, he was a kid, but he had been involved in bringing the drugs up from Florida and there was a chance he might talk to law enforcement. They lured Dave to a shooting range near 'alligator alley' in Florida. They shot him a bunch of times with a .22. They hadn't finished digging his grave so they cleaned up the blood at the scene and kept digging the kid's grave but the ground was rocky and hard. They only got a foot or eighteen inches deep. They dragged Dave into the hole and started filling it with dirt. But Dave was still alive. He raised his head. Casso hit him in the head with a shovel and they continued to bury him alive."

As the questioning continued through the night and into the following morning, a procession of wiseguys passed through the basement to hear Hydell recount the sequence of events. Joe "Butch" Corrao and John "Handsome Jack" Giordano of the Gambino family were brought to the basement, as were members of the Lucheses representing Tom Mix Santoro. Casso wanted them all to hear the story. He wanted permission to kill Hydell, an associate of the Gambinos and a prized young man because of his violent propensities. Hydell recited the facts of the attempt on Casso, relating details that could only be known to a participant. Hydell said he had two accomplices: Nicky Guido and Bob Bering. Fat Vinny didn't know he was being used to set up Casso, Hydell said. Hydell's statement confirmed what Casso already knew. Casso wanted the names of the men who had ordered the hit. Hydell gave Casso three names: Mickey Boy Paradiso, Bobby Boriello, and Eddie Lino, all three senior Gambino figures.

Everyone was amazed that Casso had managed to find and then nab Hydell without firing a shot. It was the question on the mind of all the mobsters who came to the basement. How, precisely, had Casso managed to not only find Hydell but take him alive? When Sammy the Bull Gravano came to hear Hydell's confession he wasn't interested in the details of the conspiracy to kill Casso. Gravano wanted to know how Casso nabbed Hydell. The feat was the beginning of the legend of Gaspipe Casso. From that time onward, he was able to do things that appeared impossible. He knew who was a rat. He knew where bugs and taps were hidden. He knew who was about to be pinched. Casso was a soothsayer. There was no telling where his reach began or ended. He was a man to be deeply feared.

Gravano, a stocky, musclebound man at the time, had the temerity to ask how Casso had caught Hydell. Casso put his hand on Gravano's knee -- in the mafia a gesture of contempt. "Don't worry about how we got him," Casso said to Gravano, "worry about who ordered it."

Tied up in the basement, beaten to within an inch of his life, Hydell waited to die. The Gambinos and Casso and his fellow Lucheses stepped outside for a discussion. There was no doubt Hydell was telling the truth, nor was there any doubt about what Casso was going to do. The Gambinos agreed to Casso's proposed solution. After a few minutes, Casso and Amuso went back to the basement.

"I know you're going to kill me," Hydell told Casso. "Just do one thing for me. I have a life insurance policy. It isn't much but it's all I got. Will you put my body in the street so it can be found and my mother can collect the life insurance?"

"Don't worry about it," Casso said. "I'll do that."

Casso took out a .22 automatic pistol, equipped with a silencer, and began shooting. He emptied the pistol into Hydell. He reloaded and fired again. Casso shot Hydell fifteen times. The body was put in the trunk of the Plymouth. Casso tossed in the gun. He drove to a parking lot near a boatyard. Casso gave the keys to the Plymouth to Patty Testa. He instructed Testa to get rid of the body. "Casso promised Hydell he would leave his body where it could be found so his mother could collect on his life insurance policy. Casso didn't keep his word. He found a way to punish Hydell and his family even after death. To this day, the body of Jimmy Hydell remains missing."


Casso's investigation was complete, but the punishment phase was just beginning. Casso started with the two other shooters -- Bob Bering and Nicky Guido, whose names were in the manila NYPD folder Kaplan had given Casso. The file contained a photograph of Bering and his address on Daffodil Lane on Staten Island. Casso drove by Bering's house and parked outside and waited. Bering didn't turn up. Casso gave George Neck Zappola orders to continue surveillance. Zappola drove by from time to time but weeks passed and there was no sign of him. Bering had run to Long Island, displaying the good sense to make himself permanently scarce.

Nicky Guido was another matter. Information on him was thin and contradictory. Guido appeared to be a low-level newcomer to the underworld, a hanger-on used strictly for muscle. He had no criminal record so Casso didn't have a photograph of Guido nor his pedigree from the NYPD files. But Casso did have leads. The manila folder had an address for Guido near Court Street in Carroll Gardens. Casso and Amuso went by the address several times but didn't see anyone who lived there. Casso gave the contract to kill Guido to three Luchese foot soldiers. They went and watched Guido's address intermittently. While surveilling the Guido address they observed a small red sports car parked on the block. They noted the license plate number and gave it to Casso. The presence of a red sports car rang a bell for Casso. Days before he was shot he had seen a man who looked like a hood sitting in a red sports car in the street outside a restaurant where Casso was dining. The red sports car needed to be investigated.

"There was now a standard operating procedure in place. Casso gave the license number to Kaplan and asked him to have 'the cops' run a check on it. If the car was registered to Nicky Guido, Casso would have his man. Kaplan came back to him and said that 'the cops' had the details Casso was after. He said they wanted to be paid four thousand dollars for the address of Nicky Guido. This struck Casso as pure greed. The agreed price for the Hydell kidnapping had been thirty-five thousand. Casso had given Santora and the two cops an extra five grand as a bonus for a job well done. Gaspipe complained to Kaplan that the cops were asking for too much. Casso decided to take a pass. He knew the name of his target was Nicky Guido. Guido lived in Brooklyn. How hard could it be to find him? There were other contacts Casso had. Casso turned to a guy he had in the gas company. Finding Nicky Guido should be as simple as running the name through the gas company's list of subscribers. An address in Windsor Terrace came back -- an area of Brooklyn nowhere near Court Street."

Casso's foot soldiers set up on the house in Windsor Terrace anyway. While watching they saw a man who vaguely fit the description Casso had given them -- big, Italian-looking, young. There was a red car in the area, a Nissan Maxima. Not exactly a sports car, but it was new and had a fairly sporty design for a sedan. But the ID was weak. They didn't get much of a look at the man. The whole neighborhood was Italian-American. One of the soldiers reported back to Casso that they needed a better identification before they made a move. "Casso's crew had nothing better to do on Christmas Day 1986, than sit double-parked in a car and wait for the guy to come out of his house. That was life in the 'life' -- losers wasting their lives taking lives. Late in the afternoon, they see two men emerge from the house -- one older, one younger, dressed in a new white winter coat. The two men crossed 17th Street and approached the red Nissan. Two of Casso's soldiers get out of the car. They run up on the car and open fire on the driver's side. Four shots go off in rapid succession, echoing along the silent street. The kid threw himself in front of the older man, catching the hit team's gunfire. The Lucheses ran back to the car and took off. Nicky Guido was lying in the driver's seat with his eyes open and barely breathing, his white winter coat covered with blood."

The Christmas Day murder of Nicky Guido caught the attention of the press in New York City. Senseless violence on one of the holy days of the year was appalling enough to penetrate the consciousness of a city with a soaring murder rate. The investigation quickly revealed the apparent lack of a motive to murder Nicky Guido. Detective William Powell of the Brooklyn South Homicide Squad caught the case. Within hours a portrait of the victim emerged as an unlikely target of a gangland-style homicide. Nicky Guido was known in the neighborhood as a nice quiet shy kid with no affiliations with the mafia or any criminals. He worked for a telephone company on Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn. He liked to bowl and listen to police scanners. Joe Guido, an uncle, was a detective in the Crimes Against Property Unit in the 120th Precinct. At midnight on Christmas Day he came to the Seven-Two to ask if they knew why his nephew had been killed. "All that Nicky did was work hard and live for his car," Detective Powell recorded Guido's uncle Joe saying. "Before Detective Guido came to the 72nd Precinct he talked to the Nicky Guido family and there was nothing they could tell him about why anyone would want Nicky killed. Nicky Guido's father Gabe is Joe Guido's brother and he would not hide information from Joe Guido. Joe Guido also states that Nicky looked up to Joe Guido because he was a New York City detective and Nicky wanted to be a New York City cop."

There was no evidence to suggest any organized crime connection. There was nothing pointing to another family member being behind the murder. No grudges, or disputes, or debts. Guido loved to drive his car. Local girls would go clubbing, to places like Funhouse and Players, and he would drop them at the door but not go inside. Guido claimed he wasn't dressed well enough for a nightclub but it was obvious to the girls he was too shy. He never asked the girls to go out with him. He was insecure about his appearance. Girls had "a brother-sister relationship" with him. Guido was considered a "nice kid." He didn't drink or smoke or do drugs. Lizabeth Lynott, a twenty-year-old NYPD probationary police officer Guido often gave rides to, said she had given him a white jacket for Christmas that year. None had any idea why Nicky Guido would be murdered.

Detective Powell reported in the murder file that Christmas Day had passed quietly in the Guido residence. Dinner was served at three-fifteen, with a brood of uncles and aunts and cousins in attendance. Nicky was eager to show his uncle Anthony his new red Maxima. The uncle recalled the scene, as documented by Detective Powell: "They crossed the street and Nicky opened the car door and got in behind the wheel and reached over and opened the passenger door for his uncle. The uncle got into the passenger seat and the doors were closed. Nicky started the car and was showing off the fancy dashboard. Nicky suddenly reached over, grabbed his uncle, and pulled him down in the seat. Nicky said, 'GET DOWN, STAY DOWN, STAY DOWN UNCLE TONY.' After the uncle was pulled down onto the seat, he states that he heard four shots. Nicky kept holding him down. He tried to get a look at the shooter but Nicky wouldn't let him up.

The DD-S continued, "Uncle Anthony had only seen a white male (he could see the back of his neck) in a light-colored cap leap into a light blue car and speed away. He tried to catch the license plate but couldn't see it. He had no further details to offer on the incident -- he had been engaged in admiring Nicky's dashboard. He is upset and the interview was terminated after the uncle stated he had checked Nicky for a pulse and couldn't find one. He ran into the house and told the family what had happened and they called the police. The uncle believes that Nicky saved his life by pulling him down onto the seat."

Detective Powell's leads were not promising. The only eyewitnesses were two young boys who had been outside playing that day. Neither of them wanted to get involved. They were having nightmares about the shooting. Their parents wouldn't let them assist the investigation. A neighbor across the street was a retired detective from the Eight-One. He approached investigators and told them that Nicky had no reputation for trouble -- he was "well liked."

The day after the murder, Detective Powell was contacted by George Terra from the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office. Terra was investigating the attempted murder of Gaspipe Casso and had one Nicky Guido listed as a suspect. Terra didn't give Powell the context. He simply asked for the basic facts regarding the Nicky Guido killed on 17th Street -- date of birth, address, criminal history. "Powell was no fool. The Brooklyn DA wasn't cooperating with his investigation. Powell continued working leads. He ran the license plates of cars parked on the street that day. He interviewed Nicky Guido's extended family. But the longer the case went the more it seemed obvious there was some kind of mistake involved in shooting an unconnected and harmless kid. There had to be something going on. Powell did his homework. He figured out there was another Nicky Guido out there -- a little older, lived in Carroll Gardens, had brushes with the law. Powell decided it would be worthwhile talking to the intended victim -- the other Nicky Guido."

The Guido file contained a DD-5 recording that on January 14, 1986, Detectives Powell, Semioli, and DeFranco from Brooklyn South Homicide went to see a woman named Mrs. Guido who lived in a basement apartment on Nelson Street, just off Smith Street, in a working-class Italian area where the elevated subway rattles by overhead. She was the mother of Nicky Guido -- the one involved in the attempt on Casso. The detectives told her that they had heard rumors that her son was the intended victim. "Mrs. Guido informed Detectives that she had also heard the same rumors," the report said. "She further related that on 12-25-86 she learned of the murder on 17th Street on a television news show. She says she was shocked to hear the name of Nicholas Guido on the television. Her son was asleep on the couch. She woke him up and told him of the story and that the dead man was named Nicholas Guido. She stated that her son seemed shaken by the news."

The DD-5 continued, "During the course of the conversation about the rumors she had heard, it was disclosed that the trouble all comes from a friend of her son. She called this friend Jimmy. She stated that she had only met him once. He was in the house when she came home from work. She recalled that she didn't like his looks. She said that she doesn't know Jimmy's last name but that he had blond hair. She said that Nicky and Jimmy used to do small plumbing and construction jobs. She had heard that Jimmy had disappeared. She asked her son what the rumors were about and Nicky denied any wrongdoing. She was shaken by the news that the Detectives had also heard these rumors."

The three detectives told her that she should advise her son to turn himself in to the police for protection. They gave her the phone number for the Homicide Squad office. The next day, Detective Powell received a call from an attorney named Gino Singer. He said he represented a client by the name of Nicky Guido. He said Guido had called an hour before asking him to call the NYPD to see if the men who had come to his mother's house earlier that day were in fact policemen, not impersonators. "The undersigned confirmed that I was one of the Detectives that had spoken to Mrs. Guido," Detective Powell wrote. "Mr. Singer then asked what was going on. The undersigned replied that I was assigned to the murder case of a Nicholas Guido that was shot on 12-25-86. I informed the attorney that after a few days it was my belief that the 17th Street murder was a mistake. I started asking around and I was informed that there was a contract out on another Nicky Guido. Mr. Singer asked if this was coming from people who would be in the know about such things. Mr. Singer was informed that in the opinion of the undersigned his client had a problem. Mr. Singer said that Nicky had been offered police protection in the past, but he didn't like the idea. The undersigned stated that Nicky was the one to decide if he was in danger. Mr. Singer then asked if it was true that a retired cop had been found dead this morning. I confirmed this but stated that I had no particulars on the case. Mr. Singer asked if the dead man was Robert Bering. I said no. Mr. Singer said that he would convey the gist of our conversation to his client."

Detective Powell had no way of knowing it at the time, but Bob Bering had also heard the news of Guido's murder on the television broadcast. There was no photograph of the victim so Bering had no way of determining if it was the Nicky Guido he knew. Bering had called the Guido home on Nelson Street repeatedly. Guido's mother hung up on him and then Guido's cousin picked up the phone and told Bering to never call again. Bering was living on Long Island. He carried a .38 with him everywhere, including to bed. Every step he took was fraught with fear. Casso was coming after him, he was sure. On January 3, just over a week after the wrong Nicky Guido was killed, Bering met George Terra of the Brooklyn DA and George Hanna of the Joint Auto Larceny Task Force at a diner. Bering had been a New York City transit cop for seven and a half years. He knew what was required of him, if he hoped to escape with his life. He would have to snitch.

"Bering was the kind of cop who gave cops a bad name -- a career criminal who almost certainly was committing crimes while he was one of us. He described his involvement in the school bus rackets. He implicated himself in tax evasion and labor union shakedowns. He told Terra and Hanna how he had been convicted of dealing Quaaludes and spent six months on Rikers Island, where he'd met Hydell. They had gone on a murder spree in 1986. He told them they could find Annette DiBiasi's body buried in the woods not far from Al Guarneri's home. Like Hydell, who killed his former girlfriend in a jealous rage, Bering had discovered that his ex-wife was living with a friend of his -- Joe Trinetto. Hydell and Bering plotted his murder, and Trinetto turned up dead in October of that year, while Bering was in Chicago -- on an alibi trip."

Bering provided the inside story on the Casso attempt. The hit team -- Hydell, Bering, Guido -- had tried to clock Casso for weeks. But Casso, in Bering's words, "passed being paranoid." He never followed the same routine and his every movement was designed to throw off any surveillance -- law enforcement or mob. Bering described the license plate screwup. The blue Plymouth Fury. The bus stop in front of the Golden Ox. Nicky Guido's gun jamming not once but twice. Bering had lent Hydell a rented car one Saturday in October -- the day he disappeared. Hydell was supposed to be meeting with Mickey Boy Paradiso. Bering said he had never heard from Hydell again.

Nicky Guido had gone into hiding, Bering told Terra and Hanna. As a cooperating witness for the Brooklyn DA, Bering agreed to wear a wire to implicate Guido. In April 1987, Nicky Guido was found living in Tampa, Florida. The NYPD sent Bering down to meet with him, accompanied by NYPD detectives. Detective Bernice Luhrs was assigned to pose as Bering's girlfriend. "The operation was borderline farcical. Detective Luhrs was going by the name 'Irene' but Bering kept referring to her as 'Bea' -- her real first name. Bering told Guido there was a rumor going around Brooklyn that Bering was 'under' -- that he was cooperating or under arrest -- but he said it wasn't true. Bering and Guido talked about newspaper articles on the Casso attempt. The murder of the wrong Nicky Guido had scared the right Nicky Guido out of town. Bering suggested they go back to New York and go after Casso -- 'take the head off of the snake,' Bering called it. The suggestion was preposterous. The right Nicky Guido wasn't biting."

On November 11, 1987, Robert Bering pleaded guilty to the attempted murder of Casso. Bering was given fifteen to life. As a sop for his inept cooperation, and acknowledgment by the authorities of Casso's power, Bering was granted the stipulation that he would not serve his time in a New York state prison. If he were housed in a state facility he would be in far greater danger of being killed by Casso. Bering was put into the federal system.

"Nicky Guido's resolve to stay away from New York proved to be transitory. Drawn to crime like a moth to a flame, Guido came back to Brooklyn and got involved in a huge cocaine distribution network. The outfit he attached himself to was importing thousands of tons of coke from Colombia. The mafia end in New York City was run by the Genoveses and Lucheses. Four tons were seized in a container ship traveling between Honduras and the Everglades. The container was filled with wooden patio furniture and cocaine. It was the largest cocaine bust ever at the time. The operation used a civilian police administrative assistant in the 60th Precinct in Brooklyn as its own inside source -- a pale version of Casso's insiders. Guido was carrying a concealed handgun at the time of his arrest. He claimed he was able to legally carry a pistol because he was a member of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children of Sullivan County -- a mob front designed to let gangsters carry guns."

In 1989, the right Nicky Guido was charged in state court in Brooklyn with the attempted murder of Anthony Casso. Guido's defense attorney ridiculed Assistant District Attorney Mark Feldman's references to organized crime and the conspiracy to murder Casso as "cute," paranoid, and irrelevant. Bob Bering testified in detail about the plot and Guido's role in it. "Casso was called as a witness for the prosecution. He took the Fifth on every question. He refused to answer any questions on the grounds that it might tend to incriminate him. Casso refused to admit to his name. He was the hardest of hard cases. Guido was convicted of second-degree assault.

"Even after Guido's conviction, Casso did not give up on finding and killing him. He had Kaplan consult with 'the cops' about finding the correctional institution where Guido was housed. Kaplan came back with the location. Before Casso could make a move, Guido got himself moved. By then Casso had turned his attention to getting the senior Gambinos behind the shooting."


According to Jimmy Hydell there were three men who had ordered the hit on Casso -- Mickey Boy Paradiso, Bobby Boriello, and Eddie Lino. Mickey Boy Paradiso proved to be elusive. There was no doubt about his guilt. Through Kaplan, "the cops" provided Casso with a tape recording of an interrogation of Philly Paradiso in which Mickey Boy's role in the plot against Casso was discussed. "In the aftermath of the failed attempt, Mickey Boy stopped going to his usual haunts. Casso was told by Sammy the Bull Gravano that the Gambinos were after Paradiso themselves. John Gotti assured Casso that Mickey Boy Paradiso was no longer a member of the Gambinos. But when federal prosecutors learned of Gotti's contract on Paradiso, his bail was revoked. Mickey Boy Paradiso was sent to Lompoc, a maximum-security facility in California. Casso got word of Paradiso's location to a Lompoc inmate named Anthony Senter. Paradiso was too quick for Casso. Sensing he was in danger, Paradiso requested and received a transfer to another facility."

Not all the Gambinos were so lucky, or cagey. Bobby Boriello was Gotti's driver and bodyguard, the wiseguy assigned to clean Gotti's car and escort him on his walk-and-talks through Little Italy. Using mafia logic, Casso reasoned the boss must have been in on the plot. "Casso hatched a series of harebrained schemes to kill John Gotti. Why not park a van on Mulberry Street, just like the government did for their operations, and open up on Gotti as he walked along the sidewalk? There was the problem of escape, and the inconvenient fact that a van packed with Luchese wiseguys wouldn't exactly be inconspicuous on Mulberry Street.

When Gotti was spotted eating with his girlfriend in an uptown Italian restaurant on 116th Street, Casso went to the place to see if it was possible to get Gotti there. The restaurant was on the top floor of the building. Casso told George Neck Zappola to rent an apartment across the street. Zappola tried to find a place but Gotti wasn't spotted at the restaurant again and the scheme drifted away. Casso then came up with the idea of breaking into the dentist's office across the street from Gotti's house in Howard Beach, Queens. As Gotti came out of his home in the morning they would start shooting like an old-time gangster movie -- a moment that would be memorialized forever on the FBI cameras recording Gotti's every movement. Celebrity had made Gotti untouchable, to everyone but us."

Stymied on Gotti, Casso was ready to act on Boriello and Lino. Casso told Kaplan to ask "the cops" for Boriello's address. A house near 28th and Cropsey avenues in Brooklyn was provided, along with a description of the Lincoln Town Car Boriello drove. For several weeks Amuso and Casso went to the address repeatedly to look for Boriello. May of that year was a busy month for Casso. He was planning the murder of Jimmy Bishop. An indictment in the Windows Case was looming. But Casso found the spare time to plan another murder. Within weeks Boriello was dead. Newsday reported that he "was shot twice in the head and six times in the body" in the driveway of his home.

Eddie Lino presented yet another degree of difficulty for Casso. In the mafia and law enforcement, Eddie Lino was known as an exceptionally tough and dangerous character. A Gambino captain, Lino was short and stocky and swarthy. He was a major league heroin dealer. He was close to John Gotti. He had been one of the shooters in the Paul Castellano hit in front of Spark's Steakhouse in Manhattan. Getting close enough to kill Lino was virtually impossible. Lino wouldn't go down easily.

For more than two years Casso had a contract out on Lino. No progress was made. Like Casso, Lino was paranoid to the point of parody. A purveyor of violence himself, Lino understood the inner workings of murder plots and proceeded with appropriate caution. He never followed a pattern or routine, varying his schedule every day, watching his rearview mirrors. Frustrated, Casso came up with an idea. "The cops" might be able to take Lino by surprise. The scam had worked with Jimmy Hydell. The scam had worked for the Orthodox jeweler "the cops" had kidnapped and killed for Kaplan.

Kaplan took Casso's offer of $75,000 for the Lino hit to "the cops." Kaplan reported that "the cops" were willing to take on the murder. It was "no problem." But Kaplan said "the cops" needed two handguns and a car that resembled an unmarked police car, just as they had used in the Hydell kidnapping. Casso obtained a four-door Plymouth that had been used as a highway patrol car. The car was registered in a false name, two guns were placed in a brown paper bag in the trunk, and Kaplan had his sidekick Tommy Galpine deliver it to "the cops." For months, the two detectives tried to clock Lino. They went to his luxurious house in a wealthy area of Long Island, the rewards of Lino's success in organized crime. The pair considered taking Lino by surprise in his home but decided against it. The car they had was a junker. Casso offered to have it repaired. When the Plymouth was left at a prearranged site in Brooklyn, Casso found that the car was a wreck. A fastidious gangster, as the FBI agents later witnessed with his incessant tidying up in the Valachi suite in La Tuna prison, Casso was appalled by filthy interior and poor running condition of the vehicle. Kaplan told Casso not to worry about getting another car, or fixing that one. "The cops" would get their own vehicle.

The next time Casso heard about Eddie Lino was on the evening television news on November 6, 1990. The Gambino wiseguy had been shot and killed on the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn. Casso described the murder to federal prosecutors Rose and O'Connell as it had been related to him by Burt Kaplan. Lino was driving along the service road next to the Belt Parkway in his new Mercedes sedan. "The cops" were tailing Lino when they pulled alongside and indicated they wanted to talk to him. Lino must have recognized one or both of "the cops," otherwise he wouldn't have stopped. Seconds later Eddie Lino was dead.

"The murder of Eddie Lino caused a sensation inside the Major Case squad room," Oldham recalled. "It had all the earmarks of a gangland hit. But there were a couple of big clues that something else was at work. Lino's window was rolled down. He wouldn't have pulled over and rolled down his window for wiseguys out on a hit."

The night of the homicide, Detective Mary Dugan from the NYPD Crime Scene Unit responded. A stretch of the Belt Parkway service road was taped off. Lino's vehicle had run off the pavement and into a fence. Instead of putting the car into "park" when he pulled over Lino had kept it in "drive." There was one eyewitness to the homicide. The witness said he had seen a man running away from Lino's car carrying a gun. The man was thin, the witness said. The witness said the shooter got into a car that had a police light on the dashboard and looked like an unmarked cop car. "The report didn't necessarily mean the killer was a cop. Impersonating police officers was a common practice for gangsters. So common, in fact, that it wasn't unheard of for a wiseguy to refuse to pull over for plainclothes police if he was in a remote or unpopulated area."

The night of the homicide, Detective Dugan found and vouchered a watch in the middle of the street, sixty-six feet, nine inches from Lino's car. The watch had a broken band and the clasp was still closed. It appeared to have been ripped from the wrist of the shooter as Lino struggled to turn the gun away. The watch was a square-faced Pulsar quartz with a black face and yellow numerals. It was stopped at 6:45, the same time Eddie Lino was murdered.

"Lino's murder was a big deal on both sides of the law. The shooting was on the Belt Parkway, under streetlights, with cars driving along the freeway. The killers clearly considered themselves above the law. They thought they could get away with murder -- which was what happened. There were no meaningful leads in the Lino case. The identity of the skinny shooter and his accomplice -- the two men in the cop car with the teardrop light flashing -- remained a mystery."


Sitting in the Valachi suite in La Tuna, New Mexico, in March 1994, Casso solved the Eddie Lino murder. After "the cops" opened fire on Lino, and his Mercedes lurched forward and hit a fence, Casso said, "Steve" had to get out of their car and run to Lino's car to make sure he was dead. Casso also said he had been delighted with the "piece of work" done by "the cops." The agreed fee was $75,000, but Casso wanted to pay $100,000, the extra a bonus for a job well done.

Over the years, Kaplan had been careful to ensure that Casso didn't learn the names or identities of "the cops," always referring to them as his "friends" or "guys." Casso, in turn, had referred to "the crystal ball" and "the cops" when describing his law enforcement sources to Vic Amuso.

But Casso had tried to figure out who "the cops" were over the years. Casso was by nature inquisitive. He wanted to know everything, despite Kaplan's instinct to compartmentalize and control information. In his own sly way, Casso had tried to solve the puzzle of the "crystal ball." Hints had accumulated over the years. According to Casso, not long after the Hydell kidnapping, Casso's son and his friends had their bicycle helmets seized by a police officer in the Six-Three, the precinct where Casso lived. He had managed to retrieve the helmets. Kaplan wanted Casso to know that his "friend" in the precinct had assisted in the effort. Kaplan used the name "Lou" for the cop. Around the same time, Kaplan told Casso that "Lou's" reach wasn't limited to the Six-Three. "Lou's" partner was assigned to the Major Case Squad. Kaplan explained to Casso what Major Case did, operating citywide with access to all manner of organized crime intelligence.

Even with these slips, Kaplan had tried hard to keep the identity of his "friends" secret. But keeping a secret from someone as observant as Casso was difficult, perhaps impossible. After the Lino hit, Kaplan described to Casso what had happened to Lino on the Belt Parkway. As he spoke, Kaplan let slip that the shooter in the murder was named "Steve." While Casso was on the run from indictment in the Windows Case in the early nineties, the final piece of the puzzle fell into place. Casso happened upon a copy of Mafia Cop. Casso examined its contents. On the back there was a large photograph of an NYPD officer in standard-issue warm weather patrol attire: blue slacks, short-sleeved blue shirt, silver police badge worn on his chest, holstered handgun. The man was in his twenties, muscular but running to fat, his stomach drawn in and chest puffed out for the portrait. In the background stood a row of clapboard Brooklyn houses, unmistakably Bensonhurst. The cop was leaning against an NYPD cruiser with "63 PCT" painted on the side. The picture was taken on August 22, 1969, the first day on the job for the young officer.

In the middle of the book there was an eight-page photo insert. Casso recognized some of the faces. Fat the Gangster Eppolito was in a photograph next to "Uncle Jimmy 'The Clam' Eppolito." In the bottom right-hand corner of one page was a snapshot of two NYPD detectives sitting in a squad room. One detective was large and overweight with his tie undone, the other skinny and nattily dressed in the style of the late seventies. The detectives were grinning. The names underneath were Steve Caracappa and Lou Eppolito. The caption read, "The two Godfathers of the NYPD."

"In Major Case we all knew Caracappa was furious at Eppolito for including the photograph in the book -- but we didn't know why. Now it was clear. Caracappa didn't want Casso to know his name. Eppolito was the weak link in the chain in every sense -- intellectually, emotionally, egotistically. The book proved that."

While he was on the lam, Casso had shown Kaplan his copy of Mafia Cop, he told the prosecutors. Casso had opened the book and pointed to the photograph of Detectives Caracappa and Eppolito.

"This looks like the two guys who were at Toys 'R' Us," Casso said to Kaplan. "That's really them, isn't it?"

"Anthony, I'm not going to tell you their names," Kaplan said. "You can surmise anything you want."

But Casso didn't need to surmise. He knew their names, and when he told them to the prosecutors who were listening to his life and crimes, they knew them, too.



The cops they had been looking for.



1. A year earlier, Casso had had a run-in with Hydell. The disagreement was over a dog. On the day of the incident with Hydell, Casso had been at the 19th Hole when the owner of a Chinese restaurant on 86th Street ran into the club and complained to Christy Tick that he was having trouble. Hydell was in the man's restaurant with a Doberman pinscher. Hydell was drunk and menacing the customers with his dog. "All of the Lucheses in the 19th Hole spilled onto the street to help the man. Maintaining order was a big deal to mobsters. If someone was going to intimidate the locals it was the Lucheses, no one else. Christy Tick took control. He told a wiseguy named Angelo Defendis to talk to Hydell. Defendis had already been instructed to make sure Hydell didn't cause trouble in the neighborhood. Defendis got Hydell out of the restaurant and started yelling at him. He was pointing his finger at Hydell. But every time he gestured at Hydell the Doberman snapped at Defendis. Threatening a made man was an extremely dangerous thing to do -- even for a dog. Gaspipe Casso joined the argument. He told Hydell to control the dog. Hydell ignored him. Defendis started yelling at Hydell again. The dog tried to bite him again. This outraged Casso. Casso could be counted on to escalate virtually any situation. Casso went inside the 19th Hole and came out with a pistol, screwing on a silencer. He walked up to the dog and put two slugs into its head. 'Now pick up the dog and put him in the trunk of your car and get out of here,' Casso said to Hydell."
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Re: The Brotherhoods: The True Story of Two Cops Who Murdere

Postby admin » Wed Jun 18, 2014 1:51 am



Until Anthony Casso identified Detectives Caracappa and Eppolito, law enforcement had only had a vague notion of the crimes that "the crystal ball" had participated in with the Lucheses. Now Casso connected many seemingly unconnected events. The disappearance of Jimmy Hydell was directly related to the murder of Eddie Lino four years later. The shootings of Jimmy Bishop, Otto Heidel, and Dominic Costa were part of an ongoing conspiracy designed to silence cooperators informing on Gaspipe Casso and Vic Amuso. More than simply leaking intelligence on investigations, Detectives Caracappa and Eppolito had been conducting secret investigations for the Lucheses, surveilling NYPD detectives and other law enforcement agents, and proactively seeking information that would protect Casso and enhance his underworld reputation. The bugs and wires in Tiger Management's trailer in New Jersey, Anthony DiLapi's murder in L.A., dodging the Windows Case indictments -- the crimes were tied together in a complex knot that law enforcement would now have to untangle.

"In major organized criminal investigations there is not an obviously straightforward cause and effect. Conspiracies occur in parallel universes and timelines. What is the chronology of the crimes that are investigated? What happened? When did it happen? Where did it happen? Why did it happen? An order has to be given to events. Multifaceted criminal conspiracies don't work in a predictable fashion. In this case, the facts were incredibly unwieldy. Casso conspired with 'the cops' to kill snitches, Bronx guys, Jersey guys, Gambinos. Add the component of secrecy inside the mob and inside the network of Casso, Kaplan, Santora, Caracappa, and Eppolito, and the complications were compounded by an order of magnitude.

"As soon as Casso began to proffer it was a race against time. Starting an investigation quickly is supremely desirable. Over time evidence disappears, witnesses die, forget things, or are intimidated. Promising leads turn into dead ends. In this case, the events were already years old and the cases cold. There were statute of limitations issues under federal law. In RICO prosecutions, investigators and attorneys collaborate from the beginning, deciding strategy and tactics. A substantial reason that the federal government had succeeded against the mob was the realization that they needed to bring NYPD detectives into their cases. When FBI special agents ran cases on their own they had little or no street knowledge, from either side of the street. They didn't know how law enforcement operated in the real world -- pulling strings, doing favors, being nimble. Most FBI agents didn't know how the mob really worked either -- separating fact from fiction. In the NYPD there were plenty of problems. We didn't do paperwork like the FBI guys. We didn't follow orders or adhere to dress codes. But the force had detectives who could get inside the minds of the gangsters they were chasing -- and that is critical to a successful investigation.

"Putting a RICO case together is telling a true crime story. You need to know who your characters are -- their history, their motives, their connections. A case needs a beginning, middle, and an end. Pieces of evidence have to be put in context. Corroboration is sought. One danger is getting stuck on one theory and being unable to see other possibilities. An idee fixe can be a killer for investigators, the robotic bureaucratic lurch toward one conclusion no matter what the truth may be. The beauty of working a case like Caracappa and Eppolito is the promise that there is a truth to be found. If you do your job, everything may not be discoverable, but everything that is discovered will add up."


Within hours of Casso's disappearance from the Metropolitan Correctional Center in March 1994, news that the Luchese underboss was cooperating shot like a bullet through the corridors of the Eastern District courthouse in downtown Brooklyn to mob defense attorneys' offices in midtown Manhattan and opposite City Hall. The government didn't announce that Casso had become a cooperator, and in fact the news was closely guarded. But in cases like Casso's the pattern was well known. When Casso decided to confess to his crimes in the hope of gaining leniency, he had no choice but to fire his current lawyer, Mike Rosen. "When a wiseguy cooperated, the wiseguy world turned its back on him, and that often included his attorneys. There were a number of reasons. Defense lawyers didn't represent mobster informants if they knew what was good for business. Testifying against former mafia comrades was considered dishonorable. Other mob clients would be alienated and mistrustful of an attorney who acted for 'rats.' Finally, there was Casso's concern for his own safety. If word got out that he was cooperating with the government before he was moved to a safe location, Casso's life wouldn't be worth a plug nickle."

On the advice of prosecutors, Casso had hired a lawyer recommended to him by the government. Matthew Brief was a former prosecutor himself and was considered trustworthy. As soon as Casso had gotten rid of his defense attorney everyone in the New York defense bar knew what had happened. There was only one explanation for Casso suddenly disappearing. He had gone "bad." The implications for dozens, maybe hundreds, of mobsters were obvious. "Casso wasn't just another hood. He was a true insider. Gaspipe Casso was the equal of Sammy the Bull Gravano. Gravano knew secrets. Casso knew secrets. Casso literally knew where the bodies were buried. Casso was a player in the mafia, at the highest levels. An earthquake had struck."

Judd Burstein was the longtime defense attorney for Burt Kaplan. Burstein had worked with Mike Rosen over the years on criminal appeals. Within hours of Casso's firing Rosen, Burstein knew Casso had changed counsel. As soon as the news reached Burstein, he called Kaplan. He knew Kaplan and Casso were close. When Casso had gone on the lam in May 1990, fleeing indictments in the Windows Case, Kaplan had told his attorney that he was in touch with Casso. Burstein had told Kaplan that he was an "idiot" for associating with Casso while he was a fugitive. Burstein also knew that Casso had lived in a house that Kaplan owned. For years Burstein had implored Kaplan to cease his flirtation, as Burstein saw it, with organized crime and men like Gaspipe Casso, a known killer. Now the fact that Casso was a cooperator loomed ominously for Kaplan.

"Burstein thought he knew his client. Kaplan was one of those rare clients who was perfectly frank about his wrongdoings. If he was charged with a crime and he was guilty, he told Burstein. If he was innocent, he insisted upon his innocence. The characteristic is attractive in a criminal. But Burstein didn't know Kaplan had omitted huge parts of his criminal life. As far as Burstein knew, Kaplan was a talented and successful legitimate businessman who dabbled in the underworld. He didn't know that news of Casso becoming a cooperator was more than important to Kaplan -- it was a matter of life and death."

At six o'clock on the evening of the day Casso flipped, Burt Kaplan was taking a bath. The telephone rang. His wife, Eleanor, answered. She called out that it was Kaplan's lawyer Judd calling. Kaplan asked her to tell him to call back in half an hour. A minute later the phone rang again. It was Burstein calling back. This time he insisted that Eleanor Kaplan get her husband out of the bath. He had to talk to Kaplan immediately. Eleanor conveyed the message to her husband. The sixty-year-old millionaire Brooklyn businessman and Luchese associate got out of the bath and wrapped himself in a towel. He picked up a telephone installed in the bathroom, irritated at having his bath interrupted.

"What seems to be the problem, Judd?" Kaplan asked. "You were going to call back in half an hour."

"It's very important," Burstein said. "Are you sitting down?"

Standing dripping wet in his bathroom, Kaplan grew impatient. "Don't fool around," he said to Burstein. "Just tell me what you want to tell me."

"Anthony went bad," Burstein said.

There was a pause.

"Anthony who?" Kaplan asked. "Anthony Russo?" Kaplan thought it had to be a Colombo wiseguy named Russo.

"No, Anthony Casso."

Kaplan was incredulous -- and terrified. "Are you crazy?" he asked. "Are you trying to get us both killed? Why would you say something like that?"

"He fired his attorney," Burstein said. "He definitely went bad."

Kaplan sat down. He felt sick. If anyone in the world was a stand-up guy, Kaplan thought, it was Casso. Kaplan knew he was in a sea of trouble. He and Casso had collaborated in crime for years. There were dozens, perhaps many more, criminal acts they had committed together. Drugs. Money laundering. Fraud. Murder. All of that didn't matter. Kaplan knew the stakes. The government wouldn't do a deal with Casso, with the blood of his victims soaked into every pore of his being, unless Casso was able to give them something even larger than his own criminal confession.

"Thank you very much for calling, Judd," Kaplan said.

Kaplan hung up. He needed to act quickly. He dried himself off and dressed and went out to a pay phone on the street. No calls would be made from his home phones. They could be tapped by now, his house bugged. Kaplan called his second in command, longtime associate Tommy Galpine, and told him what had happened with Casso. Kaplan said he was going on the run that night. Kaplan and Galpine were in the marijuana distribution business together, grossing more than $1 million a week. To sustain himself on the run, Kaplan would need money -- a lot of it. He asked Galpine if he had any cash. Galpine said he did. Kaplan told him to give all that he had to Kaplan's wife, Eleanor. Kaplan next called one of his partners in pot dealing, who also did errands for Kaplan. He repeated the story to his partner. Kaplan told him to take three thousand dollars to the wife of Tommy Irish Carew. Carew was in prison and Kaplan was taking care of her and he wanted to be sure she continued to receive at least a thousand dollars a month to survive on while he was on the lam.

"Kaplan was looking after the fundamentals," Oldham said, "the little things that have to be seen to that can make the difference between getting caught, or not. Caring for spouses when an associate was in jail was also a point of pride with a man like Kaplan. He was old-school. He believed in keeping his word -- if you belonged to his inner circle. But it was also a matter of self-preservation. Keeping Carew on his side, and preventing him from snitching, was smart. One reason the mafia was falling apart at the time was the way wives and children were treated when a made man was sent to jail. Instead of seeing that they were provided for, they were abandoned and left to their own devices. A wiseguy in jail had no way to provide while inside. Their families fell into poverty. For men with an inflated sense of pride, it was demeaning to have your wife and sons and daughters penniless. It made the father and husband look inadequate -- because he was inadequate. The people who paid the most for the crimes of tough guys were often their children. Kids were raised in violent households with fathers frequently absent. The veneer of being 'connected' had a certain luster in certain neighborhoods, but that wore off quickly when the old man went away and the family went broke. Kaplan wasn't going to let that happen to him."

Next, Kaplan called an associate named Michael Gordon, another partner in his drug business. He told Gordon that Casso had become a cooperator. He asked Gordon if he could stay at his place in New Jersey that night. Kaplan intended to fly from Newark International first thing in the morning and he wanted to be near the airport. He asked Gordon to collect him from his Bensonhurst home. Kaplan was going to put his car into storage. He returned home, packed a bag, and collected all the cash he had stashed in the house, along with the money his wife had saved up over the years. Kaplan would take it all as emergency money. Galpine would replenish the funds and make sure that Eleanor Kaplan received money during the time Kaplan was on the run.

Gordon soon arrived at the Kaplan residence. Kaplan and his wife got in the car and drove along the Belt Parkway toward Manhattan. He had received Burstein's call at six o'clock. It was now nine-thirty. Kaplan told him he had one stop to make. The stop was essential. Kaplan had to warn, assure, and neutralize his most important criminal collaborator.

Detective Stephen Caracappa lived with his fourth wife, Monica, in an upscale apartment building at 12 East 22nd Street in Manhattan. Caracappa had retired from the NYPD in 1992 and gone to work for the Fourteenth Street Business Improvement District, an organization dedicated to improving the "quality of life" in the area around Union Square and the commercial strip along 14th Street in lower Manhattan. Public safety, graffiti removal, and street sanitation were some of the ways BIDs throughout the city tried to rejuvenate New York. Caracappa's building was a narrow ten-story structure with a glass front and a marble lobby. Centrally located, near Gramercy Park and within walking distance of many restaurants and luxury shopping districts, the building was out of the financial reach of most NYPD officers.

Late on the night of March 1, Michael Gordon pulled up in front of the building on East 22nd Street. Kaplan left his wife and Gordon in the car while he went inside to talk to Caracappa, who lived one floor from the top. Kaplan knew Caracappa went to bed at a very early hour. Kaplan buzzed Caracappa's apartment. Monica answered the intercom. Kaplan asked for Steve.

"He's sleeping," she said.

"It's Burt," Kaplan said. "It's very important. It's an emergency. You have to wake him up. I need to speak to him."

Monica Singleton buzzed Kaplan in. He took the elevator to the ninth floor. Kaplan was embarrassed as he entered the apartment and greeted the groggy Caracappa. "Steve, we got a real problem," Kaplan said. "Anthony Casso went bad. I'm going on the lam. I'm coming here to tell you because I think there is going to be a lot of publicity in the next couple of weeks. I have come to see you because I want you to know that I'm going on the lam. I am not going bad. You can rely on me."

Oldham recalled, "The moment of truth had arrived for Caracappa -- the moment he had dreaded for years. Like Kaplan, Caracappa understood the implications. With Kaplan's forewarning Caracappa could run. He had a head start. A detective with his training and know-how could make himself vanish. But unless he stared down the accusations, life as he knew it was over. He had to know his wife, a sophisticated garment district executive he'd met in the building, wasn't going on the lam with him. Monica Singleton was a successful businesswoman in her own right. She wasn't going to take a job washing dishes in Peoria. Nor was Caracappa.

"Calm was the answer. Caracappa would stay put and see what happened. There was no way to know for sure what Casso knew about Caracappa and Eppolito. If the news broke, Caracappa would hang tough. Deny everything. He would tell his wife and mother and brother that Casso had invented the entire story. Caracappa had a sterling reputation. He had friends in all areas of law enforcement. No one would believe the word of a psychopath like Casso over the word of a first-grade detective from the Major Case Squad. Guys in OCHU wouldn't be able to comprehend a betrayal of the kind Casso was alleging. Eppolito, however, was a different story. Louie was well known in the force. Louie had written the execrable Mafia Cop. But Caracappa had been in Major Case. For most detectives, the wound would be too deep if Casso was believed. Cops stick with cops, through thick and thin, guilty and innocent. When a cop was accused, the instinct inside the NYPD was to rally to his side. As long as Eppolito and Kaplan remained silent, there was an excellent chance Caracappa could ride out the coming storm."

"Do you need any money?" Caracappa asked Kaplan. "Do you need me to take care of your wife?"

"No, thank you very much," Kaplan said. "I have money."

"If you ever do need money in the future, just let me know," Caracappa said, "like a good friend would, and I'll take care of your wife."

"There is someone else involved in this," Kaplan said. "There's Louie. Can you control Louie? Can you take care of the situation with him?"

Eppolito was the subject that concerned Kaplan the most. Eppolito was flamboyant and potentially unreliable. Through the years Kaplan had seen how Eppolito operated. The former Mr. New York bodybuilder whined about money. He had nagged Kaplan about meeting Casso. It was an idea that Kaplan considered not only stupid but dangerous. For all Eppolito's bluster and big-belly bully-boy behavior, in Kaplan's estimation he was soft. Men who are tough don't need to brag about it, or show off. Kaplan knew Caracappa wouldn't break. Kaplan and Caracappa were self-contained men. They didn't pity themselves or make spectacles of themselves. No amount of pressure was going to get them to talk, unless they wanted to talk. Eppolito was a different story. Both knew Eppolito had to be kept in line, kept from caving under pressure. Watching Eppolito would be Caracappa's responsibility.

"Louie's been my partner and I trust him," Caracappa said. "Don't worry about it."

Caracappa and Kaplan hugged and kissed. Kaplan left. Kaplan went back downstairs and drove with his wife to Michael Gordon's house in Edison, New Jersey. As he had prepared to leave, Kaplan told people that he was going to hide in China. He had conducted extensive business dealings in Hong Kong and China over the years, importing millions of dollars' worth of clothing from the Orient. Kaplan wanted word to circulate that he had vanished into China. If the rumor made the rounds in the mafia it was only a matter of time before it reached the FBI. Kaplan calculated that the FBI would be reluctant to commit the resources to chase him in the cantons of southern China. On Tuesday morning, less than twelve hours after Judd Burstein got Kaplan to cut short his bath, Kaplan flew to San Diego intending to vanish.
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Re: The Brotherhoods: The True Story of Two Cops Who Murdere

Postby admin » Wed Jun 18, 2014 1:52 am



Kaplan's need to run resulted from decades of illegal behavior. But he had seemingly not been destined for a life of crime. Born in Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn in 1933, Kaplan moved with his family when he was four years old to Vanderbilt Avenue on the edge of Crown Heights. The broad avenue was a commercial strip with merchants and restaurants and tradesmen offering their goods and services along half a dozen blocks leading up to Prospect Park. Kaplan's father was an electrician and the family ran an appliance store out of the ground floor of the five-story building. The business sold, repaired, and installed washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, and air conditioners. At a time of mass immigration in the wake of World War II, Kaplan belonged to the burgeoning working class finding prosperity in Brooklyn.

As a young man, Kaplan attended Brooklyn Tech High School, a prestigious institution with admission determined by competitive examination. Kaplan lasted only a year and a half before he transferred to Brooklyn Manual High. Promise, in Kaplan, always went unfulfilled. Weekends and evenings he worked for his father installing television antennas. By the age of thirteen Kaplan had a gambling problem. He enjoyed it -- far too much. It began with trips to the racetrack with his father. In short order, Kaplan started playing cards for money. Kaplan spent his time playing in poker games around the neighborhood, running with the fast group of kids. It was the heyday for Brooklyn -- the golden age after the war. Organized crime formed part of the legend of the borough. Cosa nostra was still an Italian secret society operating in the shadows. "Meyer Lansky was the archetype of the smart Jewish tough guy who was close to both Lucky Luciano and Bugsy Seigel. During the war, Meyer Lansky had worked with the Office of Naval Intelligence, rounding up gangsters on the docks to watch for German infiltrators, saboteurs, and submarines -- a real threat in New York at the time. To a kid with Kaplan's talents, Meyer Lansky was a major league star. Lansky made hundreds of millions over the years investing in casinos in Cuba and Las Vegas. Lansky was too smart to get caught. Kaplan had as his inspiration a Jewish legend in the underworld."

The drug plague is an area in which the national interest requires results. Illegal narcotics are one of the most important causes of the dissolution of American society at the present time. To interdict the drug flows and to prosecute the drug money launderers at the top of the banking community would have represented a real public service. But Bush had no intention of seriously pursuing such goals. For him, the war on drugs was a cruel hoax, a cynical exercise in demagogic self-promotion, designed in large part to camouflage activities by himself and his networks that promoted drug trafficking. A further shocking episode that has come to light in this regard involves Bush's 14-year friendship with a member of Meyer Lansky's Miami circles who sold Bush his prized trophy, the Cigarette boat Fidelity.

Bush's war on drugs was a rhetorical and public relations success for a time. On February 16, 1982, in a speech on his own turf in Miami, Florida, Bush promised to use sophisticated military aircraft to track the airplanes used by smugglers. Several days later, Bush ordered the US Navy to send in its E2C surveillance aircraft for this purpose. If these were not available in sufficient numbers, said Bush, he was determined to bring in the larger and more sophisticated AWACS early warning aircraft to do the job. But Bush's skills as an interagency expediter left something to be desired: by May, two of the four E2C aircraft that originally had been in Florida were transferred out of the state. By June, airborne surveillance time was running a mere 40 hours per month, not the 360 hours promised by Bush, prompting Rep. Glenn English to call hearings on this topic. By October, 1982 the General Accounting Office issued an opinion in which it found "it is doubtful whether the [south Florida] task force can have any substantial long-term impact on drug availability." But the headlines were grabbed by Bush, who stated in 1984 that the efforts of his task force had eliminated the marijuana trade in south Florida. That was an absurd claim, but it sounded very good. When Francis Mullen. Jr., the administrator of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) criticized Bush for making this wildly inaccurate statement, he was soon ousted from his post at the DEA.

In 1988, Democratic Congressman Glenn English concluded that Bush's "war on drugs" had been fought with "little more than lip service and press releases." English wrote: "There has been very little substance behind the rhetoric, and some of the major interdiction problems have yet to be resolved. The President assigned...Bush to coordinate and direct federal antidrug-abuse programs among the various law enforcement agencies. However, eight years later it is apparent that the task has not been accomplished." [fn 1] No observer still stationed in reality could dispute this very pessimistic assessment.

But the whole truth is much uglier. We have documented in detail how the Iran-contra drug-running and gun-running operations run out of Bush's own office played their role in increasing the heroin, crack, cocaine, and marijuana brought into this country. We have reviewed Bush's relations with his close supporters in the Wall Street LBO gang, much of whose liquidity is derived from narcotics payments which the banking system is eager to recycle and launder. We recall Bush's 1990 meeting with Syrian President Hafez Assad, who is personally one of the most prolific drug pushers on the planet, and whom Bush embraced as an ally during the Gulf crisis.

Bush's "soft on drugs" profile went further. In the Pakistan-Afghanistan theatre, for example, it was apparent that certain pro-Khomeini formations among the Afghan guerillas were, like the contras, more interested in trafficking in drugs and guns than in fighting the Soviet-backed regime in Kabul and the Red Army forces that maintained it in power. There were reports that such activities on the part of such guerilla groups were seconded by parts of the Pakistani secret intelligence services, the Inter-Service Intelligence, and the National Logistics Cell. According to these reports, Bush's visit to Pakistan's President Gen. Zia ul-Haq in May, 1984 was conducted in full awareness of these phenomena. Nevertheless, Bush chose to praise the alleged successes of the Zia government's anti-narcotics program which, Bush intoned, was a matter of great "personal interest" to him. Among those present at the banquet where Bush made these remarks were, reportedly, several of the officials most responsible for the narcotics trafficking in Pakistan. [fn 2] But there is an even more flagrant aspect of Bush's conduct which can be said to demolish once and for all the myth of the "war on drugs" and replace it with a reality so sinister that it goes beyond the imagination of most citizens.

Those who follow Bush's frenetic sports activities on television are doubtless familiar with Bush's speedboat, in which he is accustomed to cavort in the waters off his estate at Walker's Point in Kennebunkport, Maine. [fn 3] The craft in question is the Fidelity, a powerboat capable of operating on the high seas. Fidelity is a class of boat marketed under the brand name of "Cigarette," a high-priced speedboat dubbed "the Ferrari of the high seas." This detail should awaken our interest, since Bush's profile as an Anglo-Saxon aristocrat would normally include a genteel predilection for sailing, rather than a preference for a vulgar hatrod like Fidelity, which evokes the ethos of rum-runners and smugglers.

The Cigarette boat Fidelity was purchased by George Bush from a certain Don Aronow. Bush reportedly met Aronow at a boat show in 1974, and decided to buy one of the Cigarette boats Aronow manufactured. Aronow was one of the most celebrated and successful powerboat racers of the 1960's, and had then turned his hand to designing and building these boats. But according to at least one published account, there is compelling evidence to conclude that Aronow was a drug smuggler and suspected drug-money launderer linked to the Genovese Purple Gang of New York City within the more general framework of the Meyer Lansky organized crime syndicate. Aronow's role in marijuana smuggling was reportedly confirmed by Bill Norris, head of the Major Narcotics Unit at the Miami US Attorney's office and thus the top federal drug prosecution official in south Florida. [fn 4]

Aronow numbered among his friends and acquaintances not just Bush, but many international public figures and celebrities, many of whom had purchased the boats he built. Aronow's wife was said to be a former girlfriend of King Hussein of Jordan. Aronow was in touch with King Juan Carlos of Spain, Lord Lucan (Billy Shand-Kydd, a relative of Princess Diana's mother), Sir Max Aitken (the son of British press baron Lord Beaverbrook), Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco, Eastern Airlines chairman and former astronaut Frank Bormann, Kimberly-Clark heir Jim Kimberley, Alvin Malnik (one of the reputed heirs to Meyer Lansky) and Charles Keating, later the protagonist of the Lincoln Savings and Loan scandal. Some of these exalted acquaintances are suggestive of strong intelligence connections as well.

In May of 1986, Aronmow received a letter from Nicolas Iliopoulos, the royal boat captain to King Hussein of Jordan expressing on behalf of the King the latter's satisfaction with a powerboat purchased from Aronow, and conveying the compliments of King Juan Carlos of Spain and President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, who had recently been the Jordanian sovereign's guests on board. Aronow sent a copy of this letter to Bush, from whom he received a reply dated June 6, 1986 in which Bush thanked him "with warm regards" for forwarding the royal note and added: "I can repeat that my old Cigarette, the "Fidelity" is running well too. I've had her out a couple of weekends and the engines have been humming. I hope our paths cross soon, my friend." [fn 5]

Aronow was reportedly a close friend of George Bush. In his book-length account of the life and death of Aronow which is the basis for the following analysis, Thomas Burdick quotes an unnamed Justice Department official relating the comments of one of his friends on the Bush-Aronow relation: "My friend said, 'I guarantee you I know what the connection was between him and Bush. It's the boats. The guy loves fucking boats." A Secret Service agent also referred to Bush as a "boat groupie." [fn 6] But does this exhaust the topic?

Over the years, Bush had apparently consulted with Aronow concerning the servicing and upkeep of his Cigarette boat. During 1983, Bush began to seek out Aronow's company for fishing trips. The original engines on Bush's Cigarette boat needed replacement, and this was the ostensible occasion for renewing contact with Aronow. Aronow told Bush of a new model of boat that he had designed, supposedly a high-performance catamaran. Bush planned to come to Florida during the New Year's holiday for a short vacation during which he would go bonefishing with his crony Nick Brady. During this time he would also arrange to deliver an antidrug pep-talk.

On January 4, 1984, George Bush rendezvoused with Don Aronow at Islamorada in the Florida Keys. Earlier in the day, Bush had delivered one of his "war on drugs" speeches at the Omni International Hotel in Miami. Bush and Brady then proceeded by motorcade to Islamorada, where Aronow was waiting with his catamaran. Accompanied by a flotilla of Secret Service and Customs agents in Cigarette boats that had been seized from drug smugglers, Bush, Brady, Aronow, and one of the latter's retainers, the catamaran proceeded through moderate swells to Miami, with White House photographers eternalizing the photo opportunity at every moment. Bush, who had donned designer racing goggles for the occasion, was allowed to take the wheel of the catamaran and seemed very thrilled and very happy. Nick Brady, sporting his own wrap-around shades, found the seas too rough for his taste.

After the trip was over, Bush personally typed the following letter to Don Aronow on his vice presidential staionery, which he sent accompanied by some photographs of Bush, Aronow, Brady and the others on board the catamaran:

January 14, 1984

Dear Don,

Here are some pretty good shots which I hope will bring back some pretty good memories. I included one signed shot in your packet for [Aronow's pilot] Randy [Riggs]. Also am enclosing a set of picture [sic] for Willie not having his address or knowing how he spells Myers? Will you please give them to him and thank him for his part in our wonderful outing. He is quite a guy and I learned a lot from him on the way up to Miami from the Keys.

Again Don this day was one of the greatest of my life. I love boats, always have. But ever since knowing you that private side of my life has become ever more exciting and fulfilling. Incidentally, I didn't get to tell you but my reliable 28 footer Cigarette that is, still doing just trouble at all and the new last year engines.

All the best to you and all your exciting ventures. May all your boats bee [sic] number one and may the horses [sic] be not far behind.

At the end of this message, before his signature, Bush wrote in by hand, "My typing stinks." [fn 7]

As a result of this outing, Bush is said to have used his influence to see to it that Aronow received a lucrative contract to build the Blue Thunder catamarans at $150,000 apiece for the US Customs Service. This contract was announced with great fanfare in Miami on February 4, 1985, and was celebrated a week later in a public ceremony in which Florida Senator Paula Hawkins and US Customs Commissioner William von Raab mugged for photographers together with Aronow. The government purchase was hyped as the first time that the Customs would receive boats especially designed and built to intercept drug runners on the high seas, a big step forward in the war on drugs.

This was the same George Bush who in March, 1988 had stated: "I will never bargain with drug dealers on US or foreign soil."

As one local resident recalled of that time, "everyone in Miami knew that if you needed a favor from Bush, you spoke to Aronow." [fn 8] It was proverbial among Florida pols and powerbrokers that Aronow had the vice president's ear.

The Customs soon found that the Blue Thunder catamarans were highly unseaworthy and highly unsuitable for the task of chasing down other speedboats, including above all Aronow's earlier model Cigarette boats, which were now produced by a company not controlled by Aronow. Blue Thunder was relatively slow class, capable of a top speed of only 56 miles per hour, despite the presence of twin 440-horsepower marine engines. The design of the catamaran hulls lacked any hydrodynamic advantages, and the boats were too heavy to attain sufficient lift. The stern drives were too weak for the powerful engines, leading to the problem of "grenading" : when the drive shafts severed, which was often, the engines began to rev far beyond their red line, leading to the explosion or disintegration of the engines and the shrapnel-like scattering of red-hot steel fragments through the boat. This meant that the boats had to be kept well below their maximum speed. Most Blue Thunders spent more time undergoing repairs than chasing drug runners in the coastal waters of Florida. Blue Thunder was in boating parlance "wet," a complete lemon, useful only for photo opportunities and publicity shots.

Documents found by Burdick in the Dade County land records office show that USA Racing, the company operated by Aronow which built the Blue Thunder catamarans for the Customs service was not owned by Aronow, but rather by a one Jack J. Kramer in his capacity of president of Super Chief South Corporation. Jack Kramer had married a niece of Meyer Lansky. Jack Kramer's son Ben Kramer was thus the great nephew and one of the putative heirs of the top boss of the US crime syndicate, Meyer Lansky. Ben Kramer was also a notorious organized crime figure in his own right. On March 28, 1990 Jack Kramer and Ben Kramer were both found guilty of 23 and 28 counts (respectively) of federal money laundering charges. In the previous year, Ben Kramer had also been sentenced to life imprisonment without parole for having imported half a million pounds of marijuana. Bush had thus given a prime contract in waging the war on drugs to one of the leading drug-smuggling and money-laundering crime families in the US.

Don Aronow was murdered by Mafia-style professional killers on February 3, 1987. During the last days of his life, Aronow is reported to have made numerous personal telephone calls to Bush. Aronow had been aware that his life was in danger, and he had left a list of instructions to tell his wife what to do if anything should happen to him. The first point on the list was "#1. CALL GEORGE BUSH." [fn 9] Lillian Aronow did call Bush, who reportedly responded by placing a personal call to the MetroDade Police Department homicide division to express his concern and to request an expeditious handling of the case. Bush did not attend Aronow's funeral, but a month later he sent a letter to Aronow's son Gavin in which he called the late Don Aronow "a hero."

When Lillian Aronow suspected that her telephone was being tapped, she called Bush, who urged her to be calm and promised to order an investigation of the matter. Shortly after that, the suspicious noises in Mrs. Aronow's telephone ceased. When Lilian Aronow received reports that her husband might have been murdered by rogue CIA operatives or other wayward federal agents and that she herself and her children were still in danger, she shared her fears in a telephone call to Bush. Bush reportedly later called Mrs. Aronow and, as she recalled, "He said to me, 'Lillian, you're fine.' He said that 'ex-CIA people are really off.' That's the truth." [fn 10] Later, Mrs. Aronow heard that Gen. Noriega of Panama was interested in buying some of her boats, and she began to prepare a trip to Panama in the hope of generating some orders. Before her departure, she says she called Bush who advised her against making the trip because of Noriega's involvement in "bad things." Mrs. Aronow cancelled her reservations for Panama City. But in the summer of 1987, Bush snubbed Mrs. Aronow by pointedly avoiding her at a Miami dinner party. But during this same period, Bush frequently went fishing with former Aronow employee Willie Meyers, whom he had mentioned in the letter cited above. According to Thomas Burdick's sources, Willie Meyers was also a friend of Secretary of State George Shultz, and often expressed concern about damaging publicity for Bush and Shultz that might derive from the Aronow case.

According to Thomas Burdick, Meyers says that Bush talked to him about how the vice president's staff was monitoring the Aronow investigation. Bush lamented that he did not have grounds to get federal agencies involved. "I just wish," said Bush to Meyers, "that there was some federal aspect to the murder. If the killers crossed state lines. Then I could get the FBI involved." [fn 11] The form of the argument is reminiscent of the views expressed by Bush and Tony Lapham during the Letelier case.

In May or June of 1987, several months after Aronow had been killed, Mike Brittain, who owned a company called Aluminum Marine Products, located on "Thunderboat Alley" in the northern part of Miami (the same street where Aronow had worked), was approached by two FBI special agents, Joseph Usher and John Donovan, both of the Miami FBI field office. They were accompanied by a third FBI man, whom they presented as a member of George Bush's staff at the National Drug Task Force in Washington DC. The third agent, reportedly named William Temple, had, according to the other two, come to Miami on a special mission ordered by the Vice President of the United States.

As Brittain told his story to Burdick, Special Agent Temple "didn't ask about the murder or anything like that. All he wanted to know about was the merger." [fn 12] The merger in question was the assumption of control over Aronow's company, USA Racing, by the Kramers' Super Chief South, which meant that a key contract in the Bush "war on drugs" had been awarded to a company controlled by persons who would later be convicted for marijuana smuggling and money laundering. Many of the FBI questions focused on this connection between Aronow and Kramer. Later, after Bush's victory in the 1988 presidential election, the FBI again questioned Brittain, and again the central issue was the Aronow-Kramer connection, plus additional questions of whether Brittain had divulged any of his knowledge of these matters to other persons. A possible conclusion was that a damage control operation in favor of Bush was in progress.

Tommy Teagle, an ex-convict interviewed by Burdick, said he feared that George Bush would have him killed because information in his possession would implicate Jeb Bush in cocaine smuggling. Teagle's story was that Aronow and Jeb Bush had been partners in cocaine trafficking and were $2.5 million in debt to their Columbian suppliers. Dr. Robert Magoon, a friend of Aronow, is quoted in the same location as having heard a similar report. But Teagle rapidly changed his story. [fn 3] Ultimately, an imprisoned convict was indicted for the murder of Aronow.

But the circumstances of the murder remain highly suspect. Starting in 1985, and with special intensity during 1987-88, more than two dozen persons involved in various aspects of the Iran-contra gun-running and drug-running operation met their deaths. At the same time, other persons knowledgeable about Iran-contra, but one or more steps removed from eyewitness knowledge of these operations, have been subjected to campaigns of discrediting and slander, often associated with indictments on a variety of charges, charges which often stemmed from the Iran-contra operations themselves. Above and beyond the details of each particular case, the overall pattern of these deaths strongly suggests that they are coherent with a damage control operation by the networks involved, a damage control operation that has concentrated on liquidating those individuals whose testimony might prove to be most damning to the leading personalities of these networks. The death of Don Aronow occurred within the time frame of this general process of amputation and cauterization of the Iran-contra and related networks. Many aspects of Aronow's life suggest that his assassination may have been a product of the same "damage control" logic.

-- George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography, by Webster G. Tarpley & Anton Chaitkin

In 1952, after graduating from high school, Kaplan joined the Navy. A quick study with a steel-trap memory and a penchant for subterfuge, Kaplan was trained in cryptology and cryptoanalysis. Sent to Japan, his job was to copy secret Russian codes encrypted to make them unreadable without a cipher. Cryptology ("secret writing," from the Greek) appealed to Kaplan's nature and he excelled at his work. His last year in the Navy was spent at Fort Meade, Maryland, deciphering highly classified material. The talent he displayed led to the offer of a job at the National Security Agency, the top secret governmental organization engaged in waging the decades-long Cold War with surveillance, disinformation, intelligence, and counterintelligence.

Kaplan chose to return to Brooklyn. He continued the appliance business in partnership with his mother and brother. He married his wife, Eleanor, in 1957. But the young father, veteran, and legitimate businessman was also an addicted gambler. By the late fifties he had blown through his legal ways of borrowing money to gamble. "The pattern that followed was as predictable as it was awful. The gambler starts to borrow from finance companies, with higher interest rates than banks. After those institutions reach their limits or get wise, or the gambler starts to go into default on loans, he turns to the street -- to loan sharks. At first the 'vig,' the interest, isn't excessive. Maybe one percent a week, payable every week. If you borrowed ten grand you had to pay a hundred bucks in interest each week. It seems manageable but it's not over the long haul, when your credit has no limit. Once they give you the money, they don't want you to pay it back. Not the principal. No lender does, legit or illegit. Repaying money means the shylock or financial institution has to go out and find another borrower. The difference was that the mafia had the muscle to make a borrower do what he was told. Matters only got worse the more you borrowed. The bigger the loan, the less reliable the guy getting the money became, the bigger the vig. The cycle was vicious."

A local wiseguy and businessman ran a Luchese social club in the neighborhood where Kaplan plied his trade. During this time Kaplan was called to give a quote for air-conditioning for the wiseguy's club. The elder mobster was impressed with the job Kaplan did -- and the price. He introduced Kaplan to the owner of a Gambino social club at the corner of Grand Avenue and St. Mark's Place, only a few blocks from Kaplan's store on Vanderbilt. It was the place where Detective Eppolito's father, Fat the Gangster, had tended bar for years before he died of a heart attack. Kaplan went and measured the place and was introduced to the man in charge, Jimmy Eppolito -- Louis Eppolito's uncle known as the Clam. Kaplan installed the air conditioners and he started to play cards in a room upstairs.

By the early sixties Kaplan was borrowing from half a dozen different loan sharks. One of them was a former New York City Police Department detective named Wes Daley. Kaplan began to borrow heavily from Daley -- too heavily. When you were in debt to a gangster you were in debt in every sense of the word. When Daley came to Kaplan and said he wanted a favor there was nothing Kaplan could say, no matter what the favor might be. Kaplan was trapped. One day Daley told Kaplan there was a body in the trunk of his car. He wanted Kaplan to dispose of the body. Daley didn't say he had killed the man but Kaplan understood that he had -- and that he could quickly follow in the man's footsteps if he didn't oblige the retired police officer.

"Kaplan collected the car, as instructed, and drove to Connecticut where he was to meet with another associate of Daley. The other guy was supposed to have dug a grave. It was winter. Kaplan shook all the way as he drove north. He was scared beyond belief. Kaplan was now guilty of being an accomplice after the fact to murder. He was only a gambler but that was not how things worked in the mob -- events got out of hand quickly, unpredictably, permanently. When he got to Connecticut he discovered the guy hadn't dug the grave. He couldn't pierce the surface of the ground, which was frozen solid. The man told Kaplan to help him throw the body into the water. Kaplan did. He didn't know who the dead man was, or why he was made dead. But Kaplan had graduated to a new level in 'the life.'"

Kaplan was now in his early thirties. The appliance business was prospering but it didn't generate nearly enough money to repay the outstanding debts he owed. Keeping up with the interest was crushing. Kaplan approached his father-in-law, an NYPD beat cop, and asked if he could help. Kaplan wanted to consolidate his loans into a single amount to one loan shark, instead of the half dozen he owed. He wanted to repay the principal, not just keep up with the exorbitant interest payments. In order to pull off the deal he needed someone with connections to organized crime. His cop father-in-law took him to meet the gangster Kaplan had installed air-conditioning for to have a sit-down.

At the sit-down, Kaplan met Luchese captain Christy Tick Furnari at the 19th Hole in Bensonhurst. Furnari agreed to let Kaplan consolidate all his debt into one large loan. Kaplan would be able to begin paying down the principal. Furnari made it a rule not to associate himself with addicted gamblers, particularly not degenerates. He told Kaplan that if he managed to quit gambling they could become "friends."

"Furnari wasn't just doing a favor for a friend, he was also trolling for talent. To be a made guy you had to be Italian -- preferably with Sicilian blood. But every gangster associated with Irish and Jewish criminal elements. It was obvious that Kaplan was a bright young man. Addicted gamblers are just as unreliable as heroin junkies -- they lie, cheat, and steal to feed their need. But Furnari didn't want to let the favor go without the possibility of a kindness being repaid, with interest, someday."

By then, Kaplan's life had cleaved in two. The legitimate businessman was a husband and loving father to his daughter, Deborah. The illegitimate mafia associate was drifting further into trouble. Kaplan began fencing stolen appliances, the same ones he was selling legitimately at the store. Kaplan was a reliable contact for a wiseguy looking to unload goods he had nabbed in a truck hijacking, or a warehouse break-in. Kaplan soon branched out. He fenced a load of flash cubes for cameras -- and was caught.

As a first time offender, Kaplan sought and received leniency from Judge Jack Weinstein, who had just been appointed to the federal bench by President Lyndon Johnson. Kaplan's sentence was probation, avoiding prison. His next arrest was for fencing stolen hair dryers, a case that was dismissed. "Kaplan hardly seemed like he had the makings of a menace to society. He was fencing two-bit items. But he was insinuating himself in the culture of organized crime in Brooklyn. He was learning how to move all kinds of product. In a certain sense wiseguys were just businessmen. They just didn't pay taxes, or keep accurate books. Deals were done in cash -- wads of cash. Most mafiosi struggled like any other small-time operator running a newsstand or pet store. But a talented few made fortunes. A smart wiseguy like Kaplan understood profit margins, the importance of diversification, and how to beat the competition by associating with mob muscle."

Five years after his first conviction, Kaplan again appeared in federal court before Judge Weinstein, charged with possessing a truckload of stolen pants. Before sentencing in December 1972, Kaplan wrote a letter to Weinstein. The trend in the country at the time was toward ever more severe sentences. Nonviolent drug offenders received particularly lengthy sentences. Weinstein earned a national reputation when he refused to enforce them and then recused himself from such cases. In Kaplan's situation, with two federal convictions, a significant prison term was certain, despite Weinstein's reputation for leniency. "This arrest taught me a lesson," Kaplan wrote to Weinstein. "I started spending all my nights at home. I went to work and became successful at my marriage, and I'm home every night at 7 o'clock, and I spend all my spare time with my family." Kaplan claimed he had given up betting on horses and overcome his gambling addiction. He had developed a protective love for his mother, wife, and young daughter -- and he had become fearful he would lose them due to his criminal tendencies. Kaplan told Judge Weinstein he had taken a straight job selling hosiery, earning $100 a week, a substantial sum at the time for a high school graduate with a criminal record. "I think I have a good future in this business, your honor," Kaplan wrote. ''I'm not doing anything criminal."

Weinstein was unimpressed and sentenced Kaplan to four years. But Weinstein did grant Kaplan two months to continue working during the Christmas rush in order to provide for his family. When he reported to serve his sentence, Kaplan was sent to Lewisburg Penitentiary, a federal institution in Pennsylvania. The number of wiseguys housed there was so high that G Block was nicknamed "Mafia Row." Two days into his four-year term, chastened by his predicament as most convicts are when they face the reality of years behind bars, Kaplan wrote to Weinstein to plead for a reduction in sentence. Kaplan wrote that his father-in-law, a veteran NYPD police officer, had passed away. Kaplan's mother was mortified and heartbroken by her son's behavior. His wife and twelve-year-old daughter were suffering terribly. During the two-month grace period Weinstein had granted, Kaplan wrote, "I finally realized that with the proper attitude and lots of hard work it is just as easy to sell legitimate merchandise as stolen. Also a lot more morally and socially rewarding." Kaplan said he had never been involved in violent crime, or any violent acts, in deed or in word. He detested violence, Kaplan said, "and all it stands for." Kaplan concluded: "I promise you that the name of Burton Kaplan will never again come before you or the court or any court again in regard to anything that is against the law."

The wheedling letter succeeded, to a limited extent. The judge did not reduce Kaplan's sentence. But Weinstein did write to the Bureau of Prisons recommending that the promising young Brooklyn hosiery salesman with a checkered present be considered for parole at the earliest possible moment. On January 16, 1974, less than a year after he entered Lewisburg, Kaplan was released from custody.

For thirteen years, Kaplan managed to keep his promise to Weinstein to quit gambling. His promise to stay away from organized crime and violence didn't fare as well. Upon his return to Brooklyn, Kaplan went to work as an air conditioner installer for a company called Ciro Sales. As a contractor Kaplan owned his own van. Shortly after he started, Kaplan met a sixteen-year-old kid named Tommy Galpine, a stockman in the warehouse. Kaplan slipped him extra money to make sure his runs went smoothly. Galpine quickly became Kaplan's errand boy. He did chores around Kaplan's house, drove his mother to the doctor, sent messages -- whatever Kaplan needed done.

In 1975, Kaplan stumbled into the clothing business. A friend from prison in Lewisburg was released and Kaplan took him to another friend's flea market warehouse to get him cheap street clothes. The friend with the flea market showed Kaplan a polyester leisure suit and asked how much he thought it was worth. Kaplan asked if the suit was legitimate or "swag" -- stolen. Stolen, the man said. "Saying the leisure suit was stolen increased its value," Oldham noted. "If people were buying stolen property they thought they were getting a steal literally -- a great price for a great product. Closeout or remainder goods didn't have the aura of bargain that stolen goods radiated. Kaplan guessed twenty bucks. The guy said Kaplan could have three thousand of them for twelve dollars each but he had to get them out of the warehouse within twenty-four hours. Kaplan saw an opportunity. He made a few calls and found a man in Connecticut with a discount clothing store who would take the suits. Kaplan needed to transport the suits first thing the next day. At two-thirty in the morning his telephone rang. A snowstorm had descended on the Northeast. The man in Connecticut said the roof of his warehouse had collapsed under the weight of the snow. He couldn't take the suits."

Forced to improvise, Kaplan rented an empty fruit store on New Utrecht Avenue in Brooklyn and constructed makeshift racks from plumbing piping. He and Tommy Galpine loaded a truck the next morning and took the suits there and started making calls. Kaplan told his friends he had a truckload of stolen leisure suits. By one o'clock that day he had sold a thousand for twenty dollars each. In three days, he sold three thousand stolen leisure suits. "But the joke was the suits weren't stolen. They'd been bought in a factory closeout sale legitimately. Kaplan marketed them as swag to spike sales and made nearly twenty-five thousand dollars in three days."

By chance, Kaplan was now in the clothing distribution business. Soon he was a successful and rapidly expanding dealer. His warehouse at 8509 Bay 16th Street in Bensonhurst became a destination for people who wanted to buy discount designer jeans and sweat suits wholesale -- particularly Kaplan's friends in the mafia. It was a warehouse but also operated as a store, with the industrial appearance and whiff of swag creating the sense that bargains could be had. He sold Calvin Klein, Gloria Vanderbilt, Disco, the leading designer brands at the time. He expanded to a large warehouse on Richmond Avenue on Staten Island and started selling to huge chains like Macy's, Kmart, Nordstrom's, and discount chains across the country. He was prospering as never before, with the potential to live the life of a prosperous merchant running a multimillion-dollar operation.

But the siren call of crime was a constant for Kaplan, the devilish voice inside his head luring him toward easy cash and catastrophe. He started dealing in knockoff clothes. Imitation designer wear was manufactured in China to the specifications of Kaplan's legitimate partners, a fake label was stitched on, and the products were shipped to stores across America and into the hands of customers thinking they were buying authentic Champion and Jordache and Sergio Valente clothes. "From there the slope got slippery. The attractions of Kaplan's kind of criminal life aren't hard to see. The big payday is always just around the corner. There is the game of it. The whispering and plotting. Strategic and logistical obstacles have to be overcome, all the while playing cat-and-mouse with law enforcement. High-level criminality is three-dimensional chess combined with Russian roulette. For a gambler like Kaplan it was the best game in town."

During these years, Kaplan's ties to the Luchese crime family were renewed. Through Christy Tick Furnari at the 19th Hole Kaplan was introduced to a rising star in his mid-thirties named Anthony Gaspipe Casso. The two hit it off. They started dealing marijuana together. Casso would supply the pot and Kaplan would distribute it. The relationship played to each of their strengths. Casso was connected to a variety of suppliers of drugs. Kaplan, in turn, was a gifted wholesaler. Wiseguys all over knew Downtown Burt could move anything.

Over the years, the fine line between legal and illegal became a complete blur to Kaplan. He chased deals wherever they were to be found, no matter how improbable they sounded. By chance, he became friendly with the nephew of an African politician. Mamadou Kwaitu's uncle was a powerful official in the government of Upper Volta. The tiny landlocked nation now known as Burkina Faso, neighbored by Mali, Ghana, and the Ivory Coast, was plagued by coups and desperately poor. But there were lucrative gold and diamond mines upland, containing the promise of fabulous wealth. Mamadou Kwaitu had the concession to sell the diamonds from a mine called Bangi in central Africa. He was willing to sell them to Kaplan at a deeply discounted rate, if Kaplan could find a way to fence the dodgy diamonds himself.

"Kaplan went to Christy Tick, who put him in touch with a wiseguy who was in the diamond market on Canal Street -- the former stomping ground of Louis Eppolito's grandfather, Diamond Louie Eppolito. The wiseguy introduced Kaplan to a Hasidic guy named Joe Banda who was a member of the Diamond Dealers Club. Kaplan and Banda and Mamadou formed a partnership with a three-way split. The diamonds weren't 'stolen' in the usual sense. Africa was being raped by foreign companies, and it was being raped by its own government. Kaplan was just getting in on the action."

Along the way, always looking for any angle or opportunity no matter how unlikely, Kaplan came to believe he could make money selling hair cream specifically created for the African market. Kaplan found a factory in Brooklyn and hired a chemist named Kenneth Gibbs to manufacture the hair cream. But when the product was shipped to Africa, it was discovered that the chemical composition was unstable. The cream had not been homogenized and turned brown and rotted en route. The product was unsalable. "The failed hair cream chemist then hatched another equally lame scheme. If they couldn't make African hair cream, Kenneth Gibbs reasoned, why not recoup their losses by making Quaaludes? He would reconfigure the equipment in the factory Kaplan had rented. They could make their money back. He was eager to please Kaplan -- and not get whacked for his stupidity."

Kaplan was already dealing Quaaludes, along with his growing marijuana business, so it made sense to manufacture the drug himself. From a personal point of view, Kaplan had no interest in drugs, and the only time he tried an illicit drug was one toke on a joint while in prison. But Quaaludes could be big money. The drug, made from the sedative methaqualone, had the effect of a barbituate, simultaneously inducing relaxation and euphoria. Gibbs began to attempt to make the chemical formula -- C16H14N20. Before he succeeded, Kaplan and his co-conspirators were arrested. Gibbs cooperated with the DEA. At Kaplan's trial, Gibbs took the stand and testified against Kaplan. In 1981 Kaplan was convicted on federal drug charges of conspiracy to manufacture Quaaludes -- without making or selling a single tablet. It was Kaplan's first experience of the wages and risks of betrayal.

Allenwood Federal Prison Camp in the foothills of Pennsylvania's northern Allegheny Mountains was a minimum-security facility. At the time it had a well-earned reputation as a "country club" jail. The facility had no fences, there were tennis and basketball courts, and conjugal visits with spouses were permitted. Kaplan's stretch there turned out to be highly educational.

"If the streets of Brooklyn were the prep school of hard knocks for a life in crime, and the 19th Hole was the mafia's Yale, then Allenwood was the Harvard Business School for postgraduate studies leading to a master's degree in criminality. Kaplan spent his days with an array of wiseguys and associates who formed a fine faculty. They had different tenures -- three years for fraud, eight for heroin, eighteen months for assault. Little Al D'Arco and Anthony DiLapi from the Lucheses were serving time in Allenwood. Big Sal Miciotta from the Colombos was in for hijacking a trailerload of cigarettes. Inmates put on weight in Allenwood. They were eating salami and cheese. They had wine. On New Year's Eve scotch was smuggled in."

Kaplan belonged to the "smart" set in Allenwood. There were marathon pinochle games involving the other "businessmen" doing time, and the mobsters and tough guys they associated with for protection. Kaplan became particularly good friends with an organized crime figure named Frank Santora Jr. Strongly built, with a broad face and broad shoulders, Santora was an independent operator loosely affiliated with the Bonannos. Known to be violent, if required or desired, he had been caught extorting money from Frederick Lundy, the owner of a Sheepshead Bay seafood restaurant called Lundy's, a place as much a part of Brooklyn history as the Dodgers and the mafia. Kaplan and Santora slept three beds away from each other in the same dormitory. They saw each other four or five times a day and then were assigned to work in Allenwood's powerhouse together.

"Turned out they lived in the same neighborhood in Brooklyn, only six blocks apart. They had a lot in common, including old mob acquaintances. Kaplan, they discovered, was friendly with Santora's cousin, Jimmy the Clam Eppolito, the Gambino captain murdered with his son because of the scandal they caused with a scam preying on the International Year of the Child. Jimmy the Clam was Santora's cousin, as well as Detective Louis Eppolito's uncle. Santora told Kaplan how the Gambinos had approached him after they murdered Jimmy the Clam Eppolito and his son Jim-Jim. The Gambinos asked if he was going to retaliate and Santora said he wouldn't. This was the same story Louis Eppolito told in Mafia Cop -- only as a fantasy starring himself as the cop summoned to a secret midnight meeting with Big Paul Castellano. Santora was big and charismatic. Kaplan was drawn to men prone to violence, provided it was aimed at others."

Kaplan was released from Allenwood in 1983. He returned home determined once again to stay on the straight and narrow. While he was serving time, his clothing business had been being managed by Tommy Irish Carew -- or mismanaged. There was a lock on the door of All City Distributors when Kaplan returned to his warehouse. Eviction proceedings were under way. Kaplan was justly furious. Tommy Galpine, Kaplan's young assistant, had developed a serious cocaine problem without Kaplan around to employ him. Galpine was like a son to Kaplan, even though he had led the kid into a life of crime.

Kaplan got Galpine back on track but Downtown Burt's resolve to stay away from crime again didn't last long. Kaplan needed money fast so he went after fast money. The same year he was released, Kaplan was arrested for heroin trafficking. Kaplan was outraged. He was innocent, he insisted to Burstein, who believed him. Burstein arranged for Kaplan to talk to prosecutors and explain in detail why he shouldn't be charged. A "limited proffer" was the name of the procedure. Kaplan insisted he would not implicate anyone else. He went on record and explained to prosecutors and investigators precisely how he was not involved in the conspiracy. No rat, he would only talk about his own acts, not anyone else who might be involved. It worked. The heroin charges were dropped.

In 1984 Frank Santora Jr. was released from Allenwood. Kaplan's warehouse in Brooklyn had become a kind of reunion hall for Allenwood wiseguys newly out of prison, and so Santora went there to see Kaplan, to get clothes, and to establish a connection to the outside. Santora approached Kaplan with a proposition: He could provide him help with law enforcement issues that might arise. Santora said he had a cousin who was a detective in the New York Police Department and who was willing to offer his services to Kaplan for hire, if and when the need arose. Kaplan learned Santora's cousin had a partner who was also an NYPD detective. The partner had a "prestigious" job in the NYPD. The two had access to all kinds of intelligence in police files. For the right price, Santora said, they would sell Kaplan information on law enforcement activities. Santora also said "the cops" were willing to do any "physical" work Kaplan wanted done -- an underworld euphemism for violence.

"At first, Kaplan turned Santora down. He had quit gambling. He was supposedly legitimate. Kaplan didn't want to deal with cops. There were too many risks to getting involved with police officers. There was too much of a chance for the cop connection to come back in the form of an indictment -- or death. Cops took an oath to uphold the law. If they turned their back on that oath, what was to stop them from turning their back on the mobsters they worked for?

"Corruption was a serious problem in precincts like the Six-Two and Six-Three. There were honest cops but there were too many cops who would take money to look the other way. Human weakness was what the mob preyed upon so they understood exactly why cops were like that. But cops who would kill for money? If Santora's cousin and his partner were capable of that they were capable of turning on him too."

According to the protocol of the mafia, Kaplan was "with" Christy Tick. The tag meant his primary association and loyalty lay with the Luchese consigliere. But with the Commission Case pending and Furnari facing the near certainty that he would be spending the rest of his life in jail, Furnari had to decide how to distribute his assets. Not only could Kaplan move large quantities of drugs -- "weight," in the language of the street -- but he was perhaps the single best fence of stolen property in the city or the country. An associate like Kaplan was an asset of immeasurable value.

As Furnari dealt with business matters before going to prison, appointing Vic Amuso and Gaspipe Casso to run the family, Kaplan was "given" to a younger Luchese on the rise. Kaplan was offended. He was fifty-two years old, and his new patron too young, unpolished, and unaccomplished for him. Kaplan wanted and needed to "belong" to a much more ambitious and sophisticated member of the Lucheses. He agitated for a new arrangement and was soon rewarded with a different assignment. Kaplan was given to Gaspipe Casso. The two had known each other for years. Both were regulars at the 19th Hole social club. Over the years, they had moved tons of marijuana together. The relationship they had forged was nothing compared to the deep bonds the two would build over the years ahead. Being "with" Casso offered the chance for great rewards for Kaplan, but the opportunity came with big risks.

"The first thing Kaplan did was take out a life insurance policy. In the mafia, it was known that the best way to ensure you stayed alive was to borrow money from the people most likely to kill you. If you owed enough money you became too expensive to kill. There was a running joke among wiseguys about borrowing four hundred grand from the boss as a way to make sure the boss knew your name. Kaplan took the protection provided by debt to another level. He tripled the amount of insurance most wiseguys contented themselves with. As soon as he was 'with' Casso he borrowed $1.2 million from him. Even for a wealthy mobster like Casso, more than a million bucks was serious money. Casso wasn't going to kill Kaplan with that kind of money on the line. He wasn't going to let anyone else near Kaplan, either. Casso wasn't going to let a hair on Kaplan's rapidly balding head get mussed."

The business opportunity Kaplan borrowed heavily from Casso for was a real estate venture in Scottsdale, Arizona. Kaplan formed a corporation to develop more than eight hundred acres he had acquired for $15 million, with Casso's money serving as a down payment. Kaplan bought the property with his close friend and partner, a Hong Kong businessman who had extensive dealings with Kaplan in the clothing industry. As the first outsider to represent a Chinese province under communist rule, the businessman was able to provide Kaplan access to cheap labor and materials for his clothing business. Hubei, a south-central province with a population of 60 million and the Yangtze flowing through it, was the heartland of China and an early player in the economic boom about to transform the nation. Kaplan, the canny Brooklyn gangster, was in the vanguard. The businessman and Kaplan were equal partners, with Casso the secret partner holding half of Kaplan's interest.

"Land values in Arizona tanked. But Burt and the businessman kept up payments on the mortgage for years. Kaplan had Joe Banda pledge jewels to keep the deal afloat by refinancing the bank loans. Kaplan lost four million on the deal. Along the way, he borrowed incessantly from Casso. He appeared to be digging himself a deeper and deeper hole, but on the upside Kaplan was making himself more and more valuable to Casso alive than dead. During these years, Casso and Amuso were murdering people wholesale. No one was safe with them, but Kaplan was never harmed."

In turn Kaplan was always looking for ways to enrich Casso, or at least make Casso believe he might make massive amounts of money through Kaplan. One scheme with which Kaplan whetted Casso's insatiable appetite for effortless money was a marriage of the legitimate, illegitimate, and the absurd. After the Arizona deal went bad, Kaplan told Casso he had found a way to recoup his losses. The Chinese government was going to build a "free trade zone" on the outskirts of Scottsdale near the Phoenix Airport, Kaplan said. Eighty-seven factories were going to be constructed for the manufacture of goods with workers imported from China.

"The deal was fantastical. Kaplan had Casso believing that he was meeting with the governor of Arizona all the time. Chinese officials were involved, Casso thought. All the money was being put up by the People's Republic of China. Kaplan was being allowed to take the ride because of the huge amount of money he had lost on the earlier real estate deal. Casso had no legal role in the company, but he would participate in the guaranteed windfall profits. Still obliged to repay every penny he borrowed, Kaplan was going to make Casso untold sums of money. That was the trifecta for Kaplan -- insurance piled on insurance piled on insurance, Kaplan had more hedges than the Hamptons."

If Kaplan was Casso's window on the world of big business, no matter how farfetched the scheme, Casso was Kaplan's window on the world of big-time crime. Their destinies tied, they started to have dinner two or three times a week and talked to each other daily. Making money was the primary subject of conversation. Before long, Casso came to Kaplan with a proposal for an enormous score. Casso said he had found a man who worked for a company that acted as a depository for Treasury bills, or "T-bills," as they were known. T-bills were interest-paying certificates of debt issued by the federal government and marked as payable to bearer. Identification had to be provided to cash the bills but simple possession was considered legal proof of ownership, making them extraordinarily liquid. (This was before the shift to electronic handling of such securities.) Casso's contact had observed that the depository company took inventory of its stock of T-bills according to a routine. He said that there was an interval of time between scheduled inventories when he could steal the T-bills unnoticed. "The bills wouldn't be reported until they took inventory again. The plan was to cash the bills in the interim. They would be stolen but they wouldn't be reported as stolen. In other words, they wouldn't be 'hot.' If a security was hot its value plummeted."

The amount of money involved could run to millions, if Kaplan could find a method of turning the financial instruments into money before the depository noticed the T-bills were missing. Kaplan called Joe Banda and asked to meet with him. Kaplan explained the problem and opportunity and suggested that he give Banda the serial numbers and photocopies of a couple of the bonds. Banda lived in the Hasidic section of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, a densely populated area where many observant Jews dress in traditional garb. Within a few days Banda came to Kaplan and said he had found a jeweler in his neighborhood who thought he would be able to cash a stolen T-bill. The jeweler had a contact who would take the stolen bill and sell it overseas.

In the Hasidic community there was a paperless but highly structured method of transferring money similar to the "hawala" remittance system used in South Asia for centuries. The funds were transferred by a trusted third party so there were no wire records or other evidence showing large sums had been moved. Payment to the third party came in the form of percentage points of the sum transferred. Once the T-bill was sold in London, a phone call would be made to New York and the proceeds would be paid out locally, less the fee charged. There would be no way of tracing the money back to the jeweler, or Banda, or Kaplan, or Casso and the Lucheses. In theory. Kaplan wanted to test the system before he committed to attempting a large score. Kaplan told Banda he would get one T-bill worth half a million dollars and see if the method worked. Banda and the jeweler and his third party would take half the proceeds. Kaplan and Casso would get the other half -- if the scam came off.
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Re: The Brotherhoods: The True Story of Two Cops Who Murdere

Postby admin » Wed Jun 18, 2014 1:52 am


Casso received two stolen bonds from his contact in the depository. He wanted to do the test run with both $500,000 T-bills. Kaplan only wanted to use one. Determined to make sure the stolen T-bill wouldn't be stolen again, Kaplan demanded a meeting with Banda's contact. To avoid the possibility that they would be able to identify each other if the deal went wrong and law enforcement caught either of them, Banda arranged for the two men to meet in a parked car. Banda's jeweler contact sat in the front seat, looking straight ahead. Kaplan got in the backseat of the car. Kaplan couldn't tell for sure, but it appeared the man was dressed traditionally. Kaplan told the man that he wanted to know his name, address, and where he worked before he handed over the T-bill. Kaplan said he didn't want to know it himself. The man was to tell Banda, who would hold the information for Kaplan should the need arise to find the jeweler. The jeweler wrote down his name and address and place of employment. He gave his identity to Banda. Kaplan handed the man the envelope containing the $500,000 T-bill marked "pay to bearer." The man said he was going to travel overseas, to London, to cash the instrument with his banker contact.

Less than a week later, Banda gave Kaplan $130,000 in cash, and a few days later he added another $120,000. Elated, Kaplan and Casso were now ready to make an astonishing sum of money. They intended to steal $10 million worth of T-bills and cash them all at once. "A chance like that had to be hit once and for all the marbles. It would be one of the biggest heists in history. Kaplan and Casso were world-class scammers. They were within inches of the kind of money that would change their lives. But life in the mob was more complicated than that. No matter how cunning Kaplan and Casso were, no matter how sophisticated and careful, they were sailing in a ship of fools. Their great T-bill scam was undone by a wiseguy named Leo 'the Zip' Giammona, a made Luchese."

Before doing the deal with Banda's man, Casso had received two stolen bonds. Kaplan had managed to cash one. The other Casso gave to Leo the Zip, who was going to try his own method of cashing the T-bill. After Kaplan succeeded Casso told the Zip not to do anything with the T-bill. But it emerged that Giammona had already attempted to cash the T-bill, giving it to a guy he knew who worked in a bank on Avenue U in Brooklyn. The man had tried to cash the instrument, a clumsy, oafish endeavor. An investigation was under way. The element of surprise was now gone. The bonds were now "hot."

Leo the Zip Giammona was murdered driving northbound on West 3rd Street in Brooklyn one June morning by two hoods. The method of execution came straight out of the pages of pulp fiction. The hit men filled the back of a blue 1977 Chevrolet Malibu station wagon with flowers. One of the hoods drove. The other hid under the flowers. When the station wagon pulled alongside Giammona's Toyota, one of the hit men rose from the flower bed with a shotgun and let five rounds of buckshot fly, blasting through Giammona's window, killing him instantly. "The motive was dressed up as a heroin deal gone bad. Giammona was a made guy in the Lucheses, with connections in the Gambinos through his wife's family, so Casso needed to have a good reason to sanction the hit. Leo the Zip owned a place called Cafe Sicilia in Bensonhurst, a front for his involvement in a ring importing large amounts of heroin from Italy. When Giammona got in a dispute over the heroin, Casso took the opportunity to get revenge."

As the T-bill scam unraveled, Joe Banda came to Kaplan and said that the banker in London was being questioned by Interpol. Kaplan was upset. Banda told Kaplan that the deal had become more complicated than they anticipated. Banda's jeweler connection was supposed to take the T-bill to London himself. But he hadn't. The first jeweler had approached another jeweler and had him take the T-bill to London. The first jeweler didn't tell Banda about the change in plans. Banda learned about it when the first jeweler told him that the banker in London had not been paid the $100,000 promised to him. It seemed the second jeweler had pocketed the money. The banker had no reason to protect the first jeweler, or the second jeweler. The London banker had called the second jeweler and told him that Interpol was investigating the T-bill. The banker was talking to Interpol, Banda said. Banda believed there was a good chance the second jeweler would cooperate as well.

"Kaplan decided to put out a contract on the second jeweler. Kaplan reasoned he would be certain to snitch on the first jeweler, who would snitch on Joe Banda. From Banda the trail would lead to Kaplan and Kaplan was most emphatically not going to return to prison. Kaplan didn't tell Banda he was going to kill the second jeweler. He asked Banda to get the name, home address, and work address for the second jeweler. He also wanted to know the kind of car he drove and the license plate number. Kaplan said he wanted to put a scare into the guy -- shake him up and let him know that it was a bad idea to talk to the authorities. If they grabbed the man, Kaplan said, he would know he could be grabbed -- or killed."

Within days, Banda gave Kaplan the information. Kaplan called Frank Santora Jr. and told him he needed some "work" done. He asked if Santora would be willing to murder for hire.

"Without a doubt," Santora said. "I'll talk it over with my cousin. There will be no problem. It can be handled."

Santora came back shortly thereafter and said he had talked to his cousin and they were agreed to take the contract -- Santora, his cousin, and his cousin's partner.

"Would you take twenty-five thousand dollars for this?" Kaplan asked. He was in financial difficulty at the time so he asked if he could spread the payment out. "I could pay it ten, ten, and five, every week for three weeks."

"Don't worry about it," Santora told Kaplan. "That's fair."

Kaplan gave Santora the particulars regarding the second jeweler. His name was Israel Greenwald. He lived in suburban New Jersey with his wife and two young daughters. Kaplan left for a business trip to Arizona to survey his troubled real estate investment in Scottsdale. Santora and Detectives Caracappa and Eppolito took Greenwald's address and drove to New Jersey to find his residence. "Israel Greenwald already knew he was in trouble. He was a diamond dealer who traveled frequently. He was under investigation by C-3, the FBI squad specializing in the theft of negotiable securities-which was a big business for criminals at the time. The FBI was looking at thefts from three different financial institutions in New York City. When Greenwald cashed the T-bill in London a source for the IRS contacted them and they in turn contacted C-3. Kaplan's fear was well founded, but not for the reasons he suspected. His free-floating anxiety was his early warning system. Greenwald was already a marked man from both sides."

Greenwald had been stopped at customs when he flew back to New York from London after cashing the T-bill. He was subjected to a secondary search. He had no cash on him; the money had already been transferred. Greenwald was told that he was under investigation for trading in stolen securities. The FBI wanted Greenwald to cooperate. He said he wanted to talk to his attorney. The next day he agreed to talk. He told the FBI that he had been given the T-bill by the first jeweler. This jeweler had told Greenwald that the T-bill belonged to a man who was trying to hide his assets from his wife during contentious divorce proceedings. Greenwald believed that the $500,000 was not stolen, and he was being paid to help squirrel money away.

"A lie to Greenwald had undone the scam. The first jeweler's story meant that Greenwald genuinely didn't know he was fencing a stolen T-bill -- so why should he pay his banker in London one hundred grand for cashing a legit T-bill?"

No charges were laid against either jeweler. As fears among the conspirators rose about the T-bill investigation, the first jeweler came to Greenwald and warned him not to talk to the police. He said the deal was "a mafia sort of thing." Greenwald passed along to the FBI what he had heard. The FBI asked him to tape-record a conversation with the first jeweler. Following FBI instructions, Greenwald went to see him that day. Greenwald was carrying a tape recorder in his coat pocket. In the middle of their conversation the recording stopped. The first jeweler patted Greenwald's chest and found the tape recorder. "At least that was what Greenwald told the FBI. By now, it was unclear who to believe in the whole ordeal. The FBI didn't have a case but they knew something was going on."

On a winter morning in February 1986 Israel Greenwald rose early, dressed, and kissed his schoolteacher wife goodbye. Thirty-four years old, a devoted father, Greenwald walked his daughter Michal to her bus. As he left, he stopped and turned back for a final kiss. It was the last time his family would see him. Later that morning Greenwald was driving along the New York State Thruway when he was pulled over by an unmarked police car with flashing lights. Detectives Caracappa and Eppolito flashed Greenwald their detective shields and said that he was wanted in a hit-and- run investigation in the city. Greenwald was instructed to get out of his vehicle. They told Greenwald he had to accompany them to a lineup for identification purposes. If Greenwald was not picked in the lineup he would be returned to his car. Greenwald complied. A third man was with the two NYPD detectives -- Frank Santora Jr. He drove Greenwald's car. Detectives Caracappa and Eppolito placed Greenwald in their unmarked police car.

When Kaplan returned from Arizona, he got a call from Santora, who said he wanted to come see Kaplan. Santora went to Kaplan's house, only a few blocks from his own place in Bensonhurst. Santora described what he and Detectives Caracappa and Eppolito had done with Greenwald after they kidnapped him on the New York State Thruway. He told Kaplan that they had taken the jeweler to an automobile repair shop on Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn owned by a friend of Santora's. Greenwald was put inside a small parking shed with enough space to fit a single car. Santora told Kaplan he shot Greenwald. Santora said he had disposed of the body himself. Santora told Kaplan he didn't tell the two other guys, his cop cousin and his detective partner, where he hid the body.

"'Knowing where the bodies are buried' is one of the cliches the mafia has given to the English language, but in fact it was often true in the mob. If you killed a man you didn't want other people to know where the body was buried. When a wiseguy flipped the first thing he would do was say where the dead men could be found. Santora was giving Kaplan the comfort of knowing that no one else knew where Greenwald had been left -- so no one else could rat them out. Santora told Kaplan that he dumped the jeweler's car in the long-term parking lot at JFK.

"Kaplan paid Santora thirty thousand for the job -- the agreed amount with a five grand bonus. Santora pocketed the extra five grand for himself. When Greenwald failed to turn up at home, word of his disappearance reached Joe Banda. The Jewish community in Williamsburg in Brooklyn was insular and the sudden vanishing of a jewelry dealer like Greenwald was a matter of intense speculation. Banda contacted Kaplan and asked if he knew what had happened. Kaplan wasn't going to tell Banda that he'd just had Greenwald killed. Kaplan said Greenwald must have 'gone on a long vacation.' Kaplan wanted Banda to think Greenwald was living on a beach in Bahia, Brazil, or in Capetown, South Africa."

The FBI ran the usual searches -- airports, train stations, the Port Authority bus terminal. An experienced world traveler, Greenwald had two passports -- American and Liberian. The FBI looked for him in Tel Aviv and Switzerland. There was no sign of his existence, or clues of his whereabouts. "Finally, his car turned up in the long-term parking lot of JFK. That parking lot was a favorite dumping place for the mob. JFK was a good spot to leave a car. If a person was going to vanish, they would catch an airplane out of the country. Israel Greenwald was listed as a missing person. Presumed murdered was the more accurate description. But with no body the case couldn't be opened or closed. Greenwald could have run out on his wife and two young daughters but that seemed highly improbable. The torment for a family who knew but never really knew the fate of a loved one was dreadful. For Caracappa and Eppolito, a relationship forged in murder created a profound bond. The two NYPD detectives now belonged to each other, in the way the mafia demanded its members kill in order to be 'made.' They were blood brothers. Brothers in blood."


By 1986, Kaplan had not been introduced to the two cops who worked for Santora but he had seen them on the streets and in social situations. Santora took Kaplan aside at a function at the Pisa, a dinner club frequented by mobsters and cops. Caracappa and Eppolito were sitting together. Santora pointed them out. Kaplan and the two cops exchanged nods. On another occasion Kaplan went to the Vegas Diner, a burger-and-fries joint in Bensonhurst. Caracappa and Eppolito were eating together in the first booth. They made eye contact, in mutual recognition, and then they looked away. "Secrecy was of paramount importance. The three of them were outsiders to the world of the mafia, no matter how closely connected they were. They had formed their own private mafia. The root of the word 'conspiracy' is to 'breathe together.' They didn't have to talk to each other -- their conspiracy was unspoken but understood."

For eighteen months, Santora brokered Kaplan's dealings with the cops. Information was passed from Detectives Caracappa and Eppolito to Santora, who passed it along to Kaplan and then on to Casso. The arrangement was awkward but effective, lucrative, and provided insulation for all participants. It was a thriving new criminal enterprise.

Until the afternoon of September 3, 1987. That day Santora was strolling along the avenue on Bath Beach with Luchese wiseguy Carmine Variale when a blue car pulled up, gunfire erupted, and Variale and Santora were shot dead. Variale was the intended target but the hit man sprayed both men. Casso had ordered the murder of Variale as a routine mob murder. He had no animus toward Santora, who was purely "collateral damage," in military parlance.



Official New York Police Department photographs of William Oldham on July 13, 1981, the day he became a police officer for New York City, and on the day he retired as a detective after twenty years of service, in November 2001.


Mafia Cop by Louis Eppolito sparked intense interest in Eppolito, proved useful in Oldham's investigation, and was quoted aloud by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Henoch in court proceedings.


A muscular Louis Eppolito on August 22, 1969, on his first day as a New York City police officer. This photo appeared on the back cover of Mafia Cop.


Louis Eppolito as a young bodybuilder, 1967. As he described in Mafia Cop, his actions as a police officer often relied on physical intimidation.


This photograph of Detectives Stephen Caracappa and Louis Eppolito looking relaxed and confident appeared in Mafia Cop with the caption, "The two Godfathers of the NYPD." It was a hint to William Oldham that the two men might be linked to organized crime.


Louis Eppolito in arrest photo, Las Vegas, March 2005.


Stephen Caracappa in arrest photo, Las Vegas, March 2005.


Israel Greenwald was murdered over a Treasury bill scam gone bad.


Eddie Lino was murdered for ordering the hit on Gaspipe Casso. His body was found in his car off Brooklyn's Belt Parkway.


James Hydell was believed to be murdered for attempting to kill mobster Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso. His body has never been found.


Dominic Costa survived an assassination attempt in which he was shot six times in the head.


The wrong Nicky Guido was a complete innocent slaughtered in his car in a case of mistaken identity.


Anthony DiLapi was shot and killed in Los Angeles in Gaspipe Casso's 1991 murder spree.


Otto Heidel was murdered for being an FBI informant.


Alfred "Flounderhead" Visconti was murdered because he was caught plotting vengeance for the murder of Bruno Facciola.


Frank Santora Jr. was Louis Eppolito's first cousin and made the introduction between "the cops" and Burton Kaplan. He was accidentally murdered in a mob hit on Carmine Variale, another wiseguy.


Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso was the Luchese family boss who went on the lam before being arrested in his New Jersey hideaway. Admitting his role in thirty-six killings, he became a government informant and described his murderous activities with Caracappa and Eppolito.


The right Nicky Guido took part in the attempted hit on Gaspipe Casso. When he heard Casso's hit men were searching for him, he disappeared.


Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, left, and Burton Kaplan, right, with their wives in happier days. The men were involved in a wide array of criminal activities and benefited from the information provided to them by Detectives Eppolito and Caracappa.


The rented garages on Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn where the body of Israel Greenwald was dug up.


The remains of Israel Greenwald appeared as investigators carefully sifted through the earth.


Some of the remains of Israel Greenwald.


The skull and jawbone of Israel Greenwald.


Otto Heidel was murdered after he had concluded a game of paddle ball.


Eddie Lino was murdered on Brooklyn's Belt Parkway after "the cops" pulled him over.


Bruno Facciola was murdered and left in the trunk of his car with a canary stuffed in his mouth.


Anthony DiLapi was murdered when he fell out of favor with Luchese bosses and moved to Los Angeles.


The wrong Nicky Guido was discovered murdered in his car on Christmas Day 1986.


The wrong Nicky Guido was discovered murdered in his car on Christmas Day 1986.


Burton Kaplan's address book, showing his entry for "Marco," his code word for Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa.


These pages show Frank Santora Jr.'s phone book, with entries for his cousin Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa.


Louis Eppolito, gregarious and talkative, protested his innocence during the federal trial.


Stephen Caracappa did not speak to reporters during the trial and maintained an icy calm.


William Oldham chased Eppolito and Caracappa for seven years. After serving thirty years as a street cop, detective, and federal investigator, he retired in 2005.

Immediately after the hit, Kaplan told Casso about the unintended consequence of Variale's murder. Kaplan informed Casso that Santora was their "friend" -- the one who brokered the deal with "the cops."

Casso was shocked. "Geez," Casso said. "I didn't know that he was our friend. I could have stopped it."

In Mafia Cop, Eppolito placed Santora's murder in a footnote. In reality, the death of Frank Santora Jr. was anything but a footnote in Eppolito's life. He was overwhelmed with grief and anger. On that day, Eppolito was assigned to assist in providing security for the visit of Pope John Paul II. When he learned of Santora's death, Eppolito raced to the Six-Two precinct house in a rage. Detective Caracappa was with him. Eppolito was keening and weeping. "They finally killed the last of my family," he said.

Sergeant Joseph Piraino, acting boss of the Brooklyn Homicide Squad and formerly a Major Case detective, watched in amazement as Detectives Caracappa and Eppolito tried to find out what had happened. Eppolito had a borough-wide reputation for connections to organized crime. Santora was Eppolito's cousin. Chances were good that Eppolito would try to kill his cousin's killer himself, it seemed, or snitch to the Gambino family to get some version of vigilante justice. Caracappa physically supported Eppolito, his arms around him in consolation. Piraino knew Caracappa from Major Case. They had worked together in the OCHU. Sergeant Piraino took Caracappa aside and asked him to get Eppolito out of the precinct house. Piraino made it clear that Eppolito's behavior was inappropriate. "The scene seemed bizarre to Piraino," Oldham said. "Weeping and wailing about the death of a gangster was one thing. Trying to find out about the investigation was another. Eppolito was out of control -- and out of his mind. Caracappa was trying to keep a lid on his partner."

For the NYPD and press, the deaths of Variale and Santora represented only the latest in a bewildering string of mafia murders. The mysterious murders were all "gangland-style": another Italian-American Brooklyn man gunned down on the street by assailants who disappeared and were never apprehended. William Rashbaum, then a reporter with United Press International, sought out Robert Blakey, the Notre Dame law professor who had a major role in drafting and naming RICO, to explain the rash of killing. "When the bosses get taken out, when they're facing long terms, the immunity of the higher echelons is proven to be a myth," Blakey said then. "That means the system is breaking down. One reason why you join organized crime is to avoid violence. You get in it to have disputes settled without guns. But when there is a void at the top, all of a sudden the natural environment in the underworld is very violent. The shootings are a sign that law enforcement is working," the professor added.

Santora's death should have meant the death of the conspiracy. It was a chance for the two detectives to take their money and fade away. Kaplan knew them by sight, and he knew Eppolito was Santora's cousin and worked in the Six-Three. Otherwise they were in the clear. Caracappa could have walked and no one would ever know about Greenwald, Hydell, Guido. They failed to take the chance to withdraw from their conspiracy. Caracappa and Eppolito wanted the money. Caracappa was on his fourth marriage. Eppolito was married, with young children, and a girlfriend on the side. Existing on a detective's salary was an unattractive prospect, once the pair had grown used to the extra dollars every month. They were getting away with it. There was no sign of trouble. Caracappa and Eppolito must have enjoyed the rush of knowing they were playing the NYPD for fools. Why stop when the money was so easy? Greed is a powerful motivator.

Within a month of Santora's murder, his widow went to see Kaplan at his place of business. Kaplan knew her from her visits to Allenwood, when she'd come with the couple's young daughter Tammy, and from Brooklyn when she had carried messages for Kaplan to Santora. Now she asked if Kaplan would be willing to meet with her late husband's cousin. He wanted to talk. Kaplan agreed and a plan was made. Kaplan went to the Santora residence. Detective Louis Eppolito was waiting for him in the dining room. Mrs. Santora excused herself and went into the next room so the men could talk privately. Kaplan sat at the table.

''I'm pretty sure you know who I am," Eppolito said.

"Yes, I know who you are," Kaplan said. "I've seen you on a few occasions. You're Frankie's cousin."

Eppolito asked Kaplan if he had any desire to continue the business they were doing together. Kaplan understood Eppolito to be proposing that they deal directly with each other, now that Santora was dead.

"I think we could make this simple," Eppolito said. "We could make this a business arrangement. You could put me and my partner on a pad for four thousand a month. We'll give you everything that we get on every family. Any bit of information we get about informants, ongoing investigations, wiretaps, imminent arrests."

The proposal was attractive. Four thousand dollars a month was a bargain for the quality of information Caracappa and Eppolito provided. Kaplan told Eppolito he would have to talk to Casso. As he walked out of Santora's house, along the short driveway to the sidewalk, he passed a parked car. A man was sitting in the car. Kaplan recognized him from Toys 'R' Us and the Vegas Diner. The man was thin, swarthy, with a silent brooding manner. Major Case Squad Detective Stephen Caracappa was sitting in the passenger seat of the car staring directly ahead as Kaplan passed by.

Kaplan put the proposition to Gaspipe Casso.

"What do you think?" Casso asked.

"So far they've been real good to you," Kaplan said.

"I agree with that," Casso said. "Let's do it. Tell them if they want to do this, and they want to move forward, they work exclusively for us. We don't want them giving information to other guys in other families. We don't want no problems to come back to us."

In the beginning Kaplan dealt only with Eppolito. The beefy detective would come to Kaplan's warehouses in Brooklyn and Staten Island to buy clothes. The former bodybuilder had an unusual body shape and finding clothes that fit was difficult. Kaplan would swap the pants and jackets on odd-sized suits he had in store, allowing Eppolito to match his fifty-four-inch jacket size with thirty-six-inch-waistline pants. Eppolito also owned a house on Long Island. Kaplan didn't go to the house, but he often drove to nearby locations. For meetings, Kaplan and Eppolito designated rest areas and off-ramps along the Long Island Expressway, where they met to exchange money and information.

"Kaplan and Eppolito became friends. They got along well, although Eppolito complained about money. Eppolito had an incessant need for more and more cash. He had expensive tastes -- even if it was bad taste. Eppolito bought giant snakes, exotic knives, a range of rare and unusual guns. It was costly to purchase the live mice and rabbits he would feed his snakes. Kaplan worried about Eppolito living beyond his means, even with the money from the pad. It was obvious that Eppolito was not the sharpest knife in the drawer. In fact Kaplan and Eppolito nearly came to blows over one of Louie's lame-brain ideas. For years, Kaplan had shielded the identity of Caracappa and Eppolito from Anthony Casso. Eppolito was at Kaplan's house once when he said he wanted to meet Casso directly. Kaplan hit the ceiling. He threw Eppolito out of his house. He refused to deal with him. Eppolito was in danger of blowing the entire deal.

"Caracappa tried to patch things up. He went to Kaplan's house to make amends and apologize for Eppolito's excesses. Caracappa took a plate of homemade cookies. The two men discovered that they were sympatico. Both were disciplined, loyal, always two or three or four steps ahead of the game. Kaplan enjoyed dealing with Caracappa rather than Eppolito. Caracappa was too smart to shop for his clothes at Kaplan's warehouses, which were under video surveillance. He knew Kaplan was moving tons of pot every month and that the DEA, NYPD, and FBI were all set up on Kaplan's places of business."

A method of communicating was developed. Kaplan was given a code name -- "the Eagle" -- an apt nickname, since Kaplan had many of the characteristics of a bird of prey. It was also an inside joke. Kaplan's eyesight was poor and he was constantly squinting from behind his thick glasses. From his time in Navy intelligence, Kaplan understood encryption, how to encode sensitive information. He had Caracappa's and Eppolito's phone numbers in the phone book he carried inside his briefcase, but he was cautious about how he recorded the numbers. He had good reason to be careful. When he had been arrested in the early eighties on the heroin dealing charge, his phone book had been seized and examined. By the mid-eighties, he recorded the phone numbers of Caracappa and Eppolito under the name "Marco." He had Caracappa's beeper number, along with Eppolito's home number. Kaplan also had the number of Caracappa's mother on Staten Island. If investigators looked at the phone book to see who Kaplan was associating himself with, there was no reason for them to suspect that "Marco" was in fact two NYPD detectives.

When Kaplan and Caracappa met, they followed a protocol designed to prevent detection. Caracappa's mother lived on Staten Island near the Verrazano Bridge. Her house on Kramer Street was a modest bungalow. Caracappa often spent his weekends there. If Kaplan wanted to meet "Marco" he set a time with Caracappa. At the appointed hour, Kaplan pulled up outside Caracappa's mother's house and beeped his horn. He then proceeded down Kramer Street. There was a small cemetery surrounded by a chain-link fence. The headstones were modest, the surnames Italian. The cemetery was nearly always empty. Kaplan would get out of his car and wait for Caracappa. The two men would walk and talk along the pathways between the graves. The cemetery rolled into a small rise overlooking the rowhouses and affording a view of the Verrazano Narrows. It was the place where Caracappa passed along information that led to many murders, and received money in return. The exchanges were ghoulish -- the Eagle and Marco taunting the dead.

"Over time, genuine affection arose between the two men. They were both wise in the ways of wiseguys. They recognized in each other an old-school mentality. You don't snitch. You don't ask questions, and you don't tell tales. Kaplan and Caracappa were men of honor in their own minds. They treated each other with the near-courtly formality of the old mafia. They dealt with each other for years before Kaplan even learned Caracappa's last name. Both men understood there was no need for Kaplan to know it. They believed they would take their secrets to the grave."


On Wednesday, March 2, 1994, hours after Kaplan's plane had touched down in San Diego, ace mafia reporter Jerry Capeci broke the Casso story in the New York Daily News. "The feds hope to team the 53-year-old Luchese underboss with turncoat Gambino underboss Salvatore 'Sammy Bull' Gravano as a one-two punch against indicted Genovese family boss Vincent 'Chin' Gigante," Capeci wrote. The report said that Casso had provided information on NYPD moles whom Casso dubbed "the crystal ball."

Within hours of arriving in California, Kaplan called his lawyer Judd Burstein, who told him about Capeci's latest story. Kaplan's name was not mentioned in the press but he knew Casso would have revealed his identity and role to the FBI. "It's a big problem for me," Kaplan told Burstein. "I was the go-between for Anthony and the cops. The next day, Capeci followed with a story headlined "Two City Detectives Gaspiped." "In his first session as an informant, the latest mafia boss to sign on with the federal government fingered two city detectives as long-time moles for the mob and implicated one in a hit," Capeci wrote. "Anthony 'Gaspipe' Casso, who had jealously guarded the moles' identities from even his closest cronies, was 'extremely forthcoming' during his debut songfest with the FBI, one top law enforcement official said. 'He's told us who they are,' the official said. 'Now we're going to have to prove it.'''

Kaplan panicked. Burstein tried to reason with him, saying Kaplan hadn't been charged with any crimes and he had no indication that any charges were forthcoming. Burstein attempted to persuade Kaplan to stay put. Running now would ruin his chances of getting bail if he was charged, as the risk of flight would be amply demonstrated to any judge considering the question of allowing Kaplan to remain free before and during a trial -- a period of time that often lasted years. "The exchange was a charade. Kaplan wasn't in Brooklyn. He was already on the lam in San Diego. Burstein had no idea his client was long gone. The idea that Kaplan could get bail if and when he was charged with the Caracappa and Eppolito conspiracy wasn't going to change Kaplan's mind. If he was caught, Kaplan knew he was going away for life."

The day after Capeci's second story ran, Kaplan checked out of his hotel in San Diego and crossed the border into Mexico. A lifelong gambler, Kaplan didn't like the current odds. Casso had a huge amount of evidence against him. Detectives Caracappa and Eppolito were in a different position. Casso had never met them. Kaplan had kept them insulated from the Luchese underboss. "The question loomed -- did Gaspipe know the names of Caracappa and Eppolito? Kaplan couldn't know for sure what Casso knew. He knew about Casso finding the copy of Eppolito's book. He knew Casso had seen the photograph of Caracappa and Eppolito in Mafia Cop. Once the truth begins to come out, facts keep coming. It's like a spool of thread, unraveling and unraveling."

The effect inside the broader organized crime circle was equally devastating. Within days of Casso's cooperation being reported, gangsters started to turn themselves in. "Six Gambino Bigshots Run for Cover -- Into Jail!" was the headline in the New York Post. "The six feared they'd be hit with stiffer jail terms if they let mob turncoat Anthony 'Gaspipe' Casso take the stand against them, sources told the Post."

The story of Casso's cooperation disappeared from the news for three weeks. Finally, on Friday, March 25, the story exploded into the consciousness of a city supposedly inured to tales of corruption inside the NYPD. The headline was sensational. "Mob Boss: I Used Cops as Hitmen" was splashed across the front page of the New York Post. The article said that Casso had hired two unidentified New York City police officers to murder Gambino wiseguy Eddie Lino. "Casso told the feds he enlisted his two rogue cops to kill Lino because he believed Lino, a hitman himself, was too smart to fall into a trap that involved other gangland members," the Post reported. "Eddie Lino, whose sharp-nosed profile resembled comicbook detective Dick Tracy, always sat with his back to the wall. He never stopped his car for anyone. Not even people he recognized. But, Casso said, Lino would never suspect two police officers would be his executioners. He was dead wrong."

Detectives Caracappa and Eppolito were not named in the Post. The next day was a Saturday. The Post ran a story under the headline "Mob Canary Says Hitman Was Hero Detective." There was no mention of the names of the NYPD officers. "The Post is withholding their names pending the completion of the investigation." Lawyer Bruce Cutler, who had represented John Gotti for years, was quoted. "This 'Steam Pipe' or 'Water Pipe,' or whatever his name is, is a psychopath. Now they're going to ask people to rely on his word. If you ask me, Sammy Gravano's new friend 'Pipe,' or whatever you want to call him, got together with Gravano and made up these kinds of lies."

But now Jerry Capeci of the Daily News named names. "Hero Cops or Hitmen?" was the banner headline covering the front page on the March 26th issue. The full-page photograph was taken from Eppolito's book Mafia Cop. The picture was of Detectives Caracappa and Eppolito sitting in a squad room together grinning at the camera. The image was the same one Casso had seen while he was on the lam -- the one that gave away their identity and began to unravel the conspiracy. "Reached in Las Vegas where he is pursuing an acting career, Eppolito first laughed off the charges as 'bull,''' Capeci reported. "'I haven't killed anybody,' he said. "My father was from a different family -- the Gambinos. I don't know anyone in the Luchese family. I have no idea why he would say that. I don't know anything about it. I never hurt nobody in my life. I don't know Eddie Lino -- he don't ring a bell." Capeci interviewed "an Italian American detective who has known Eppolito for years." "I can't believe it," the unnamed detective said. ''I'd been feeling that suspicion for years."

Oldham recalled, "Everyone in Major Case involved in OC investigations had known for weeks that Casso had flipped. No matter what I thought of Caracappa I didn't think he would hire himself out as a killer for the Lucheses. I didn't have access to what Casso was saying in La Tuna. The FBI 302s were top secret. In Major Case we knew little more than what was in the press. The squad was torn apart. Caracappa had worked with us until just a couple of years earlier. It was like his scent was still in the room. The OCHU had been abandoned, or disbanded, after he left. Winding down the unit made sense, in a way, with the victories we were winning against the mafia. But I started to wonder if the whole OCHU had been put together by Caracappa as a way to facilitate his criminal activities. He had agitated for the creation of OCHU. He effectively ran it, under the avuncular and unguarded supervision of Sergeant Jack Hart. It was a perfect setup."

Caracappa and Eppolito hired prominent defense lawyers. Through his friends in the Major Case Squad, Caracappa employed an attorney named Eddie Hayes. A former Bronx prosecutor, Hayes had been the inspiration for the defense attorney Tom Killian in Tom Wolfe's best-selling novel The Bonfire of the Vanities. Known as "Fast Eddie," Hayes had a taste for handmade suits and hand-fashioned shoes, and had a long list of celebrity clients. Eppolito engaged Bruce Cutler. Eppolito and Cutler had known each other for decades, through the streets and courthouses of Brooklyn. They had also appeared on television together in 1992, on a show called Nine Broadcast Plaza, when Eppolito was promoting Mafia Cop and defending the mores of the mob.

"The two lawyers went on the offensive. Cutler demanded a lie detector test. He proclaimed his client's complete innocence. Hayes and Caracappa took the opposite tack. Caracappa told Hayes he hadn't committed any of the alleged crimes. And then the detective did what true tough guys do. He kept his mouth shut. Caracappa understood how many things could go wrong for the government in a case like his. They tell a little lie that becomes a big lie. They continue their criminal activity. If all prosecutors had was the say-so of Casso, they had a flimsy case. There was a good chance Casso would self-destruct."

Within weeks, the story of the "dirty cops" was eclipsed in the headlines by stories about other corrupt members of the NYPD. The Mollen Commission had been convening for a year, inquiring into the systematic corruption that imperiled the force. In late March the first indictments were announced. The "Morgue Boys," as the case was dubbed in the tabloids, attracted banner headlines. Three police officers in the 73rd Precinct confessed to using the morgue as the place to snort cocaine and have sex with prostitutes. Three other cops were charged with similarly shocking crimes, though they were later acquitted. The next week another police corruption story erupted into the news. The "Dirty Thirty" case involved a ring of detectives in the 30th Precinct, in Harlem, using false 911 calls as the pretext for raiding drug dealers' apartments yet again. The raids had been captured on videotape, scandalizing the city. Thirty-three officers from the "Dirty Thirty" were charged with perjury, assault, extortion, and large-scale drug trafficking.

"Detectives Caracappa and Eppolito were retired, lying low. I kept waiting to hear that 'the cops' were going to be charged. At the time I was working on the trial of the kidnappers of a seventy-year-old tuxedo magnate named Harvey Weinstein. Watching Caracappa's approach on the Donnell Porter case had taught me what not to do. In this case, egos were checked at the door. Drawing people into your investigation was the key, not pushing people away. This was true for the family of the victim, junior detectives, the tech guys who ran the phones -- anyone who could help. Harvey Weinstein had been snatched by his own employees and kept naked in a twenty-foot-deep hole in Riverside Park, covered by dirt and a rock, for twelve days. It was a miracle he didn't die down there. The kidnappers had lowered a cell phone to him with a rope to have him talk to us. They threw bananas and oranges to feed him. He was living in his own filth. When we broke the case, when we saved his life, we dragged out one tough old haberdashery hombre. Weinstein was from a different generation. He wasn't going to crack under pressure. It was all over the papers. New York City loved him for it. And Major Case detectives never wanted for tuxedos again.

"During those weeks I read the headlines about Caracappa and Eppolito with more than passing interest. Weeks turned to months and there was no word of impending indictments doing the rounds in headquarters. The case evaporated. It wasn't even a case -- it was a surreal series of accusations that came and went. But Caracappa and Eppolito were in the back of the minds of hundreds of detectives who had worked organized crime over the years. The institutional memory of the department -- the invaluable institutional memory -- wasn't going to forget. Was it possible that Major Case Squad First Grade Detective Stephen Caracappa from the iiber elite Organized Crime Homicide Unit had been not just dirty but a hired killer? Detective Louis Eppolito, the cop-hating cop who wrote Mafia Cop, had actually been a gangster all along? It was hard to believe. It was perfectly plausible. I had to find out."
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Re: The Brotherhoods: The True Story of Two Cops Who Murdere

Postby admin » Wed Jun 18, 2014 2:09 am


The tourist destination of Ensenada, Mexico, a coastal city on the Baja Peninsula, describes itself as La Bella Cenicienta del Pacifico, or the Cinderella of the Pacific. Every day the city was visited by cruise ships with thousands of American passengers wandering the seaside promenade and markets. Here was the perfect hideout for an aging New York gangster on the run. For Kaplan, the sunburned senior citizens in floppy hats and shorts provided an excellent backdrop. Located only an hour and a half south of San Diego, Ensenada was ideal: remote and close, anonymous and populated, the kind of place that was so obvious law enforcement might never find him if they came looking.

Four months passed. By the summer of 1994, there was no more word from New York about indictments. Tommy Galpine, Kaplan's assistant in New York, took care of the thriving marijuana business. Stuck in the seaport city, Kaplan began to long for a life in America. A contact in Oregon told Kaplan he would rent him a furnished apartment there. Arrangements would take a little time, Kaplan's friend said. Over the July 4th weekend of 1994, Kaplan reentered the United States. Going back to live in the United States meant constructing a new identity, which required new identification. Kaplan obtained a library card and reinvented himself as "Barry Mayers." After that, one "Barry Mayers" also obtained a Costco card. Next, an American Automobile Association card was obtained. Kaplan then went to the department of motor vehicles and applied for a non-driving identification card. He didn't want or need a driver's license. There was no reason to risk going through the added burden of submitting to the process of getting a license, especially the vision test.

"Presto, from next to nothing, 'Barry Mayers' was summoned into existence. Kaplan had the ID. With an address and three photo identifications, no matter how tenuous or dubious, he was able to parlay nothing into a new life. He could get on airplanes, open a bank account, get back into business. Kaplan's Oregon photo identification as Barry Mayers was a piece of plastic with a photograph of an average-looking man in his sixties wearing oversized glasses. For decades Kaplan had sold counterfeit items -- clothes, financial securities, whatever and whenever. For Kaplan, identity was just another fungible item. Kaplan could fence anything, and so he fenced himself back into society. As far as the FBI knew, Kaplan was hiding someplace in central China. If he wanted to, he had disappeared forever."

Nearly a year passed and there was still no word from New York about an indictment of Caracappa and Eppolito. Kaplan lived quietly in Oregon. Once a month he traveled to Las Vegas to gamble. He had stopped gambling for many years but with the vast sums rolling in from his pot business and the pressures of the fugitive life he had sought release in betting again. During this time he met and became involved with an attractive younger woman named Diane Pippa. On one of his trips, Kaplan asked Pippa to do him a favor. He wanted to look a name up in the phone book. Kaplan's eyesight was so poor that he needed her to get out the white pages and find the entry for him. "Louis Eppolito," he told her, spelling out the name. It was a long shot. Kaplan knew that Eppolito had moved to Nevada after he retired from the NYPD. Just before Eppolito left New York, in 1991, Eppolito had come by Kaplan's house in a big white van to say goodbye. Eppolito had said he was going to drive cross-country with his collection of snakes and his wife, Fran. Kaplan had felt extremely awkward at the time, as well as alarmed at Eppolito's foolhardy lack of caution -- a gangster like Kaplan and a high-profile cop like Eppolito could easily be seen by prying eyes.

To Kaplan's surprise, Pippa found Eppolito's number in the book. He asked her to call Eppolito. Kaplan thought there was a possibility the federal government would be monitoring Eppolito's line and he didn't want his voice to be recorded on a wire. Eppolito's mother-in-law answered. She said Eppolito would be back at six-thirty that evening. Pippa called again and reached him. An arrangement was made to meet the next day at one o'clock at Smith's Food and Drug, just off the strip and around the corner from Tropicana Avenue. Kaplan waited for Eppolito near the row of slot machines inside the entrance to the supermarket. Eppolito pulled up in the parking lot and the two men made eye contact. Each got a shopping cart and went to the fruit section. They hadn't seen each other in years, and it was the first time they had talked since Casso had flipped and the story of their conspiracy leaked to the press.

"How are things going?" Kaplan asked. "You getting any heat? You getting any pressure?"

"In the beginning the press was awful," Eppolito said. "It's much better now. I hired an attorney."


"Bruce Cutler," Eppolito said.

"You made a good choice," Kaplan said.

"Steve hired a lawyer too. Eddie Hayes."

"I don't know him," Kaplan said.

"He's well known by the NYPD," Eppolito said.

When Eppolito moved to Las Vegas three years earlier, he had high hopes of finding fame and fortune. He told Kaplan he was going to live in a rented house while he built a house for himself. The price of houses in Los Angeles was prohibitively high, Eppolito explained, so he would settle in the relative proximity of Las Vegas and commute to Hollywood for auditions. Years earlier Eppolito had played a nonspeaking part in Goodfellas. Since then he had scraped by getting tiny roles in a series of films playing cops, mobsters, assassins, drug dealers. In Robert De Niro and Sean Penn's State of Grace he was credited as "Borielli's Man." In Predator 2 Eppolito was described only as a "patrolman." In Blake Edwards's Switch he was "AI the Guard." With Ruby, Mad Dog and Glory, and Woody Allen's Bullets Over Broadway, Eppolito's film career put him on the sets of some of the most successful filmmakers in the country. But Eppolito never rose above the tiniest parts, little more than an extra. Now Eppolito told Kaplan what small success he had enjoyed in movies had petered out. Eppolito told Kaplan he was writing another book. Eppolito didn't say if it was fact or fiction.

Kaplan returned to Oregon. A few weeks later he came back to Las Vegas to see his girlfriend, Diane Pippa. Again, Kaplan and Eppolito set the rendezvous at Smith's Food and Drug. On this occasion, Eppolito told Kaplan that Stephen Caracappa was moving to Las Vegas. Weeks later, in November 1994, Kaplan met with the two former NYPD detectives at Smith's market. This time they went to a nearby diner for lunch. The three had sandwiches and coffee together. Kaplan was curious how Caracappa, now shopping for a house in Vegas, had coped with the pressures in New York in the time after Casso became a cooperator. The press coverage had been extensive, though the media had moved on from Caracappa and Eppolito after no action was taken by the authorities.

"Did you have a lot of problems over the publicity?" Kaplan asked.

"It was bad at first," Caracappa said. "It was hard on my mother. The only real problem I had was that my mother had to go through that."

Kaplan commiserated with Caracappa. His wife, Eleanor, had suffered for years as a result of his criminal activities.

"The worst of it is pretty much over," Caracappa said. "I've got Eddie Hayes as my lawyer."

"What about your friends in the force? How did they take the publicity?"

"Whoever was my friend stayed my friend," said Caracappa.

Caracappa told Kaplan that he had an alibi witness for the night Eddie Lino was shot and killed in November 1991. Caracappa said his wife, Monica, was friendly with a woman named Kathy Levine, who worked with Joan Rivers as an on air-personality selling goods on the QVC channel. Levine, a former high school Spanish teacher turned television shopping personality hawking everything from chintz jewelry to computer software, was the author of the books It's Better to Laugh: Life, Good Luck, Bad Hair Days, and QVC, and We Should Be So Lucky: Love, Sex, Food, and Fun After Forty From the Diva of QVC. Levine's on-air catchphrase was "Do it, try it, buy it, riot!" Caracappa told Kaplan that Levine was convinced she'd eaten dinner in Manhattan with the Caracappas on the night Lino was killed. Levine had mixed up the dates, Caracappa told Kaplan, but provided him with a "celebrity" out, if the allegations Casso made against them ever came to trial.

As always, Eppolito had money woes. He had by then purchased a new house in Las Vegas, and construction was under way, but he had found another deal in another suburb that would provide him with grand living circumstances for a lesser sum. The second house on Silver Bear Way was Eppolito's dream house, with romanesque columns in front, a pool in back, and a spacious layout befitting a man of his accomplishments. The problem was that Eppolito had committed to the first house and all his money was tied up in the down payment.

"Listen, 1need a big favor," Eppolito said. "I want to get into another house but the builder isn't going to give me my down payment back until he sells the house. Can you get a shylock for me and borrow seventy-five thousand?" he asked Kaplan.

"Louie, you got to be crazy," Kaplan said.

"I'll pay a point," Eppolito said.

"How can you afford to pay seven hundred and fifty dollars a week?" Kaplan asked.

The prospect made Kaplan uneasy. That amount of "juice" -- 52 percent annual interest-was ruinous for an extended period. Eppolito was extravagant, in his tastes and ambitions. The last thing Kaplan wanted was Eppolito broke, desperate, and vulnerable. He needed the weak link in their chain to hold. Kaplan offered to do Eppolito a favor. In the marijuana business, it was common for Kaplan to need a ready source of financing for large transactions. The weight he dealt in ran to tons, and the sums of cash needed were millions. He had access to large sums of money on short notice from his partners in the pot trade. The money was provided to Kaplan interest-free, as a way of facilitating the marijuana transactions. Kaplan suggested that he would borrow $75,000 for Eppolito.

"Keeping Eppolito financially afloat had been a problem since Kaplan first met the lardy detective from the Six-Three. Kaplan had tried to talk to Eppolito about his profligate ways over the years. Eppolito's need for money was insatiable -- the guns and reptiles and dreams of Hollywood fame and fortune. Kaplan asked Caracappa if Louie had a drug abuse issue? Eppolito had been pulling in a detective's salary. It should have been plenty for a man who knew how to live within his means -- which Eppolito did not.

While Kaplan had been hiding out and awaiting the outcome of Casso's cooperation, his marijuana business continued to thrive. Tommy Galpine, Kaplan's former errand boy who had risen to be a partner, operated the enterprise. Galpine had provided Kaplan's wife with $100,000 drawn from the drug money. He had traveled to Ensenada, in Mexico, twice to see Kaplan. While Kaplan lived in Oregon and then set up in Vegas, large amounts of cash from the pot distribution network had been forwarded to him, or delivered in person by Galpine. Kaplan suggested to Eppolito that he might be able to use the money obtained from dealing drugs to help finance his new house.

"I got a guy in my marijuana business who trusts me with a lot of money. I'll ask him if I can juggle the seventy-five grand. That way it won't cost you nothing. You won't have to pay the juice. It'll take me a few days. I got to reach out to Tommy back in New York and see."

"It'll only be for a few months," Eppolito said. "Until the builder sells the house and I get my down payment back."

By the end of 1994, Kaplan had permanently relocated to Las Vegas. He rented a furnished house in Paradise Valley, or Paradise as it was known locally, in the southeast section of the city between the Strip and McCarran Airport. He and his lover, Diane Pippa, opened a retail store selling women's suits in partnership with a couple Kaplan knew from the garment business in New York. Nothing was in Kaplan's name in the business. His partners owned the entire operation on paper. Kaplan had connections in New York who could supply him decent-quality business attire for female executives working in the casinos looking for sharp prices. "A good suit for a good value," was Kaplan's motto.

In fact, while Kaplan was on the lam he maintained steady contact with many of his closest associates in New York. Among them was Sammy Kaplan, a man unrelated to him who had served time with Kaplan in Allenwood in the early eighties. When Burt Kaplan arrived in Las Vegas, Sammy Kaplan had recommended he contact a friend of his named William Schaefer, a native of Brighton Beach. Sammy said Schaefer might be able to help Kaplan with running errands and driving. Kaplan's eyesight had deteriorated over time. In Las Vegas, it was essential to have a car, and Kaplan needed someone to drive him to and from meetings and work, as well as assist him in running errands. William Schaefer was meek and compliant, a retired food supervisor at an Air Force base who had spare time. His wife also started to work for Kaplan in the burgeoning women's suit business.

That November Kaplan met with Eppolito to lend him the money for the bridge loan on the new house as promised. Kaplan's lover, Diane, called Eppolito and told him to meet Kaplan at Caesar's Palace. Kaplan had received $75,000 from Galpine. The money had been delivered in a box wrapped as if it were a Christmas present. It was packed in the usual manner: $100 notes, the bills secured with a rubber band and stuffed in white envelopes, $5,000 in each envelope. At the casino, Kaplan gave Eppolito $65,000 and kept $10,000 for himself, for a bet on Super Bowl XXIX.

Kaplan explained to Eppolito that it was less than expected, but all that he could spare at the moment. Eppolito was pleased to receive the money. "Please, Louie," Kaplan pleaded. "I could have gotten you the money and said it was seven hundred and fifty a week. But I'm trying to keep you out of trouble. Please pay it back as soon as you can."

"You saved my life with this," Eppolito told Kaplan. "I really appreciate it. The minute I get the money back I'm going to give it to you."

The San Francisco 4gers beat the San Diego Chargers 49-26. Kaplan had backed the winner.

The following March, Caracappa left his job at the 14th Street BID in Manhattan and relocated to Las Vegas with his wife, Monica. The couple bought a house on Silver Bear Way, directly across the street from Louis and Fran Eppolito. Casso's cooperation had not resulted in charges, but Caracappa put himself in a position to keep an eye on Eppolito.

Kaplan was prospering as Barry Mayers. Constantly scouting for moneymaking schemes, he came across a business idea to manufacture and market an exercise device to mimic the workout of hitting a punching bag. The gimmick consisted of a balloon with a heavy rubber band around it. Together they formed a punching target that bounced back no matter at which angle it was struck. The product had been designed by a famous Las Vegas boxing judge who was friends with the Schaefers, the older couple working as Kaplan's bookkeeper and driver. Negotiations had begun with George Foreman to have the former heavyweight boxing champion, and promoter of the extremely successful George Foreman Grill, endorse the boxing balloon. Kaplan knew that Caracappa's wife was connected to the shopping network QVC through a friend. Kaplan reasoned that Foreman could do on-air spots for the device. Kaplan and Caracappa still saw each other from time to time. Kaplan asked Caracappa if he might be able to arrange a meeting with the people in charge of QVC. If QVC decided to sell the product on-air, the minimum order would be 100,000 units. Caracappa and Kaplan went to two meetings but the idea failed to come to fruition.

The months rolled on. The clouds hovering over the heads of Kaplan, Caracappa, and Eppolito seemed to have parted. The three men were constructing new lives under the desert sun, ready to go into business together as the opportunity arose. Back in New York, despite the universal expectation that there would be a sophisticated and comprehensive investigation of Gaspipe Casso's revelations, nothing came of it. The gambit of attorneys Bruce Cutler and Eddie Hayes to confront Charles Rose and the federal government and demand charges be laid appeared to have worked. "To my amazement, Detectives Caracappa and Eppolito skated. Hanging tough worked. The two detectives had settled into their new lives in their cul-de-sac in their gated community. Kaplan was thriving. The only ones suffering were Gaspipe Casso and the families of the victims."


By the spring of 1996, Anthony Casso was housed in a witness protection unit in the Otisville Federal Correctional Facility in upstate New York. The segregated section in the center of the prison was filled with more than one hundred inmates who had to be kept apart from the general population. "Cooperators, according to the code of prisoners, betrayed the most basic tenet of criminality. Talking to the government made them universal targets for criminals of every stripe. 'Snitch jail' was another name for the witness protection units that constituted prisons-within-prisons."

That spring, federal prosecutors were finally confronting Vincent Chin Gigante and attempting to prove that he was competent to stand trial. [1] With the "crystal ball" case stalled, testifying against Chin Gigante was going to be Casso's ticket out of prison. During his debriefing, Casso had told Charles Rose and Greg O'Connell about his dealings with the Chin. Gigante was running the Genovese family, Casso said. Christy Tick Furnari, John Gotti, Gaspipe Casso, dozens of senior mobsters were dumbfounded or angered by Gigante's behavior -- but there was no question it was an act. "Casso described meetings Gigante held in an Italian restaurant on East 4th Street on the Lower East Side. That was where Gigante settled disputes about chopping up the proceeds from the windows scams, demanded repayment of stolen money, and enforced mafia punishment, including putting out the hits of John Gotti and Frank DeCicco -- which were given to Casso and his partner Vic Amuso. According to Casso, Gigante wasn't just sane, he was a cagey con man who insulated himself from his family solely to frustrate prosecutors. The act had worked for years. During his proffer, Casso gave Charles Rose a long list of people who knew Gigante was faking it. Casso was expecting to be used by the government as a witness against Gigante in the hearings about mental competency that spring."

Colombo captain Big Sal Miciotta had also been shipped to the witness protection unit inside Otisville. For two years, Miciotta had been preparing and giving testimony against his former fellow mobsters. The trials had not gone well. Miciotta was an expert on the inner workings of the mafia, able to explain arcane practices and describe the true underlying culture of the mob. Money, Miciotta knew, was always at the root of all mafia matters. But on the stand, Miciotta downplayed his own role in the murders in which he had participated. In the hope of receiving a lesser sentence, Miciotta misguidedly portrayed himself as less of a criminal than he truly was.

"Committing the indiscretions on the stand meant tearing up my plea agreement," Miciotta recalled. "And rightfully so. I knew I had it coming, but that only made it worse. After a lifetime of lying I could not believe that investigators and prosecutors actually wanted the truth. No one told the truth, as far as I knew. Everything was a con -- everything on every level. The same had to be true as a cooperator. I didn't tell the whole truth about the money I had stashed away. I hedged on the shylock money I had on the street. I held back another guy's involvement in a marijuana deal. I was involved in a phony car accident I didn't tell the prosecutors about. When I started to cooperate I was hoping for a suspended sentence. No jail time. I was in the best possible situation. I started cooperating before I was charged with anything. But once things went wrong it snowballed. One lie leads to ten lies. Instead of starting a new life on the outside, I got fourteen years. I was at rock bottom when I got to Otisville that spring."

Anthony Casso had yet to testify in any trials. For cooperators, sentencing occurred after cooperation was complete. The Gigante trial was slated to start that spring. Casso and Miciotta were two of the few made men in the Otisville witness security unit. The unit was set up like a dormitory, with a large common area and two levels of cells. There were no windows, to avoid any contact with the general population. There were a number of fringe players, wannabes from Brooklyn and Staten Island who had become cooperators, but for the most part the section was now filled with cooperators from Latino and black gangs. Before he was allowed to enter the unit, Miciotta was put through a battery of tests by the FBI to ensure he would not hurt another prisoner or resort to violence. After a month, he was sent to Otisville. There he saw Casso, whom he knew from the 19th Hole. Casso greeted Miciotta warmly.

"In the beginning, Anthony was nice to me," Miciotta recalled. "He was able to get food in and he hooked me up with some pasta. I was thankful for it. The truth was that I never really liked him, and I don't think he liked me. But we were respectful of one another. Anthony was the same inside as he was on the street -- off the wall. He said he was going to testify against the Chin. He thought he had a 'get out of jail free' card."

Miciotta settled in well. Intelligent and literate, compared with other inhabitants, Big Sal was assigned to work in the unit's law library. One of his jobs was to get the local newspapers each day and disperse them throughout the unit. Each man got half an hour with the paper. Miciotta quickly discovered that Casso had turned the witness security unit into his miniature empire. Still wealthy and able to bend others to his will, Casso had struck an arrangement with the woman who worked as secretary for the unit. She was pretty, curvy, a single mother, and a native of Puerto Rico. Casso took excellent care of her. She provided him with vodka, steaks, lobsters. When Casso received packages from the outside she would bring them into the unit. Cigars were in the packages, but the tobacco had been hollowed out and replaced by heroin and cocaine.

"Anthony had anything he wanted," Big Sal remembered. "He was ordering guys around like he was still in the street and he was still the boss. There was one Luchese guy from the New Jersey faction in the unit. Joe Marino was his name. Anthony was nasty to him. Anthony had no concept that he was in jail. There is no boss in jail. There is no more cosa nostra. No one cares who is consigliere. They don't know from that stuff. Inside, the boss is the guy who can hit the hardest. John Gotti went to jail and a black guy broke his ass. Joe Marino was a guy that worked out every day. He was in fucking super shape. Casso was a little guy. Joe would have took him apart. It would have been like throwing a fucking pork chop into a lion's den. I told Joe it wasn't worth it to take on Casso. It would only fuck up the amount of time Joe had to do, and keep him away from his family."

Miciotta was providing information on an ongoing basis to the federal prosecutors and FBI agents concentrating on cases against the Colombo family. During a debriefing session, an agent asked Miciotta about Casso. "The agent asked me, 'How's Casso doing in there?' I said that Anthony was always crazy but we weren't at odds with one another. The agent said, 'I don't think he's going to be too happy. They're not going to use him for the upcoming Chin Gigante trial.' I said, 'That's terrible.' They said, 'The psychological testing came back from the government doctors, and they marked him as a lunatic. He lied on a couple of occasions. He misled us. We aren't going to put him on the stand against Chin and weaken the case by having him cross-examined.' The government had Al D' Arco, Pete Savino, Phil Leonetti from Philly, Sammy Gravano. They had a good case.

"I left the meeting feeling I really should tell Anthony. I pondered it for a day or two. I didn't have any ulterior motive. I wasn't going to get nothing out of this. But I figured the guy should know what was going on. His hopes were high. He thought he was going get Sammy the Bull's deal. I didn't think it was right for me to not tell him. I felt guilty. It burns you not to tell somebody something like that. I went to his room. I told him what they said to me. I said they probably aren't going to use you in the Gigante case. 1 didn't tell him the reasons. 1 didn't say you're a lying lunatic. He went off like a nut job, yelling and screaming."

"They wouldn't tell you something like that," Casso shouted.

''I'm only telling you to be a nice guy," Miciotta told Casso.

"You're crazy," Casso said to Miciotta. "You don't know what you're talking about. You're full of shit. 1know more about this than you do."

''I'm just trying to help you," Big Sal said.

"1 don't need your fucking help," Casso screamed. "We're not friends no more. 1don't want to talk to you no more."

"You better check it out," Miciotta said. "You better call your sponsor -- call Charlie Rose -- and see what he says. Don't tell Rose 1 told you because 1wasn't supposed to say nothing."

Miciotta walked out. Big Sal was a mountain of a man -- six-one, three hundred and fifty pounds. Casso was five-nine, two hundred pounds, fattened by all the food he was eating. Miciotta was used to physically intimidating everyone he came in contact with, in prison and on the street. Casso represented no threat to Big Sal, he thought, as long as Casso didn't have a weapon smuggled in to the unit. The next day, Casso came to the law clerk's office, where Miciotta worked. Casso said he wanted to read the New York Times. The paper contained an article about the impending competency trial of Chin Gigante. It was the hearing Casso hoped to testify in. "Anthony was mad with me because 1 gave him the news he wasn't going to be used. He was going ballistic. He was shooting the messenger -- and that was me."

"Where's the fucking Times?" Casso demanded from Miciotta.

"Dude, take it easy," Miciotta said. "The black guy from Florida, James, has it. As soon as he's done and he brings it down to me I'll give it to you."

"Get it for me," Casso said to Miciotta. "1 don't want to have to wait for a fucking nigger."

"Anthony, we're not in Canarsie now," Miciotta said. "We're in jail. This guy has got the paper. I'm not going to go up and tell him 1want the paper to give to you. You want the paper, you tell the guy."

James was serving four life sentences for murder. He was not a second-class citizen to anyone in the unit, including Casso. There was no chance he would give up the newspaper until he was finished with it. Casso was too frightened to confront James. That night Miciotta showered. He pulled on a pair of shorts, a T-shirt, and slippers, and took a seat in the common area of the unit. Friends of his were playing cards at a table nearby. One of his pals, a member of the other faction in the Colombo wars, had warned him that Casso was mouthing off about getting even with Miciotta. Sal opened the newspaper and started to read when he felt a blow to the head. "Casso had something wrapped up in a magazine. He was hitting me on the head with it. I got up and went towards him. I said, 'What are you doing, cocksucker?' He started to back away. He had the face of fear. I nailed him with a left hook. I caught him good. He hit the floor. I kept kicking him and slapping him. I was yelling at him, 'You piece of shit. You're a coward, you sneak.' He was bleeding from the side of his head. He had a gang inside -- eight guys answered to him. They got in the middle and stopped me. They took him to the library."

"Casso was semiconscious. He sent a guy to my room to say he wanted to talk to me in the library. I said, 'Get the fuck out of here.' I just kicked his ass. Now he wants to talk like a tough guy again? On the street, if you raise your hands on another made guy, it's an unwritten rule that it's your life on the line. Inside there was no punitive structure. We were both rats. All the fight meant was he had to look out for me, and I had to look out for him. I put a metal cabinet in front of the door to my room. I figured him and his friends would come after me, rush the door all at once. Maybe he had a knife, because he wasn't really willing to fight. This way, at least they can only come one at a time. I could defend myself.

"Half an hour later, the prison cops knock on the door. They handcuff me and take me to the hole. I couldn't believe it. Casso starts the fight and I get arrested. Casso snitched on me. I saw the written report, signed by him. What a tough guy. His guys upstairs blocked the heat to my cell. It was winter and it was freezing in Otisville. I had one blanket. They were trying to get me sick. Three days later, they put Casso in the hole. That's when I decided to get even with him. I was scared he would poison my food. He had connections with the correctional officers and he had that secretary. I reached out for my U.S. attorney. I told him the whole story. I told him about all the contraband being brought in to the unit. I laid it all out."

The prosecutor contacted the inspector general's office and an investigation of the witness security unit was launched. The Bureau of Prisons corrections officers in the unit got wind of the inquiries being made. They told Casso that Miciotta had informed on the activities inside the unit. "Now I was in really big trouble. I was a snitch inside snitch jail. The cops hated me because I was giving up cops. The prisoners who were getting in trouble wanted to get me. It was bad -- fucking bad. They were freezing me in my cell. His crew would come by my cell and threaten to kill me. They said Anthony knew where my family was. Then one day I went to take a shower. As I come out of the shower, with my hands cuffed behind my back, the cop on duty unlocked the gym and let Casso into the hallway with me. He was carrying a weapon -- a heavy brush. He corked me from behind. My feet were wet and I fell. I started kicking at him. He ran away. I was bleeding from my head. They took me to the medical department and asked me what happened. I told them a cop let Casso get at me."

A lightning raid was launched at four 0'clock in the morning. All the cells were emptied. The unit secretary was locked in her office. The guards were locked in another room. The rooms were searched one by one. Contraband was rife. Cocaine, marijuana, heroin, alcohol, cigars, imported olive oil, cell phones were piled in the middle of the main room. The corruption was disclosed precisely as Miciotta described it. Casso made threats against Miciotta. Casso swore he would get Big Sal no matter what.

"Pretty soon it was clear Casso was unusable as a witness," Oldham recalled. "The agreement with him was now 'breached,' because he'd been caught committing crimes. Miciotta didn't do Casso in. Casso did himself in. It wasn't just smuggling contraband into prison. He plotted to kill Charles Rose. He plotted to kill Judge Eugene Nickerson, the longtime Eastern District judge assigned to try Casso's case. Casso was running the witness security unit like he was in the 19th Hole. His criminal life had continued in prison. Casso was a deviant wherever he was placed. Putting him on the stand meant associating the federal government with him -- and that wasn't going to be pretty. Charles Rose wanted to continue to use Casso, even though Casso had wanted to kill him, but Greg O'Connell disagreed. You can't have the federal government saying this guy is our star witness when the star witness has threatened to kill a federal prosecutor and judge. You don't want to be associated with him and you don't want him associated with your case, even if he is telling the truth. The bigger problem, of course, was that now Casso could not be used to testify against Caracappa and Eppolito."


In the same way that word of Casso's cooperation had traveled through the world of mob lawyers in 1994, so did word spread that Casso had been breached in the spring of 1996. Once again, Judd Burstein contacted Kaplan, now living in Las Vegas, and conveyed the information that the government was not going to use Casso as a witness in any trial, including any potential prosecution of Kaplan and retired detectives Caracappa and Eppolito. In the time since Kaplan had gone on the lam, first to Mexico and then Oregon and Las Vegas, Burstein had remained in touch with his client. Kaplan had even started to travel under his assumed identity to New York, where he had seen Galpine and checked in on his marijuana and clothing import businesses. Kaplan had an established business and girlfriend in Las Vegas but he was eager to resume his New York life, legitimate and illegitimate. The danger appeared to have passed.

Kaplan contacted Eppolito and told him he needed to be repaid the money he had lent him as a bridge loan for Eppolito's house. Eppolito and Kaplan met. The retired NYPD detective only had $35,000 in cash. Eppolito told Kaplan that he couldn't get any more cash from the bank. He had a further $20,000 in checks. It was clear to Kaplan that Eppolito had not taken control of his finances. Kaplan wanted to help Eppolito. "Let's do it this way," Kaplan said. "Give me the total of fifty-five thousand, and forget the other ten."

Kaplan quietly returned to Brooklyn in June 1996. Moving back into his house on 85th Street in Bensonhurst, he didn't seek out attention, or tell his friends and business contacts he had returned. Maintaining a low profile did not work.

In early September, while laid up in bed feeling ill, Kaplan watched on his home surveillance system as DEA Special Agent Eileen Dinnan and two colleagues knocked on his front door. The agents weren't expecting to find Kaplan, but with a warrant for his arrest outstanding it was routine to stop at the residence of a fugitive at regular intervals. This time they got lucky. Kaplan didn't know there was a warrant out for him in a case unrelated to "the cops" and Gaspipe Casso. Kaplan's wife, Eleanor, allowed Special Agent Dinnan and the two others into the house. Shown to Kaplan's bedroom, where he was watching the surveillance camera, Downtown Burt's years of running from the law came to an end.

"We've got some bad news for you, Burt," one of the agents said to Kaplan.

Kaplan's longtime associate Tommy Galpine was also arrested. The pair was charged with marijuana trafficking.

The night Kaplan was arrested he was taken to the DEA headquarters at 99 10th Avenue on the west side of Manhattan. Kaplan was led into a room filled with law enforcement officials. Senior officers from the NYPD were present, along with DEA and FBI agents. Twenty men were in the room. Kaplan knew what they were after. Kaplan was told he could do himself a favor. The assembled brass said they wanted to talk to him about two "dirty cops." Kaplan had not been allowed to confer with his lawyers. He told the officials that he wasn't being facetious, or difficult, but he was not interested in making a deal. Kaplan said he wanted to talk to his lawyer. A ten-year-old grudge was rearing its head.

"At that moment, Kaplan could have walked on the marijuana charges without doing a day in prison. But Kaplan wouldn't cooperate with the FBI. Kaplan hated the Bureau with a passion. Why? In the mid-eighties, when he was out of Allenwood, the FBI had nearly destroyed his legitimate business. At the time, Kaplan was importing clothes on a large scale. To succeed in the business he needed large-scale financing. Kaplan was particularly close to one Fashion District factor who was willing to extend Kaplan credit for hundreds of thousands of dollars on short notice. Flexibility was necessary for a wheeler-dealer like Kaplan. He was trying to go straight at the time -- or what qualified as straight for him. But the FBI was still after him. I don't know the specific reason. It was the mid-eighties, just at the beginning of RICO prosecutions and the war against the mafia. Maybe they wanted him to cooperate against Christy Tick Furnari in the Commission Case. There were many, many possible reasons for the FBI to be interested in a character like Downtown Burt. The Bureau went to the businessman and told him that Kaplan was involved with organized crime. The FBI told the man Kaplan had been in federal prison. The guy was legit. He was shocked and appalled. Kaplan presented as an honest man. Kaplan dealt with name brands, like Calvin Klein. But the mafia was ingrained in so many aspects of life in New York that the allegation was believable. People weren't used to having a face to put to the mob.

"The businessman called Kaplan and asked if it was true that he was a mobbed-up ex-con. Kaplan lied. The guy told Kaplan that if it was true he would have to stop doing business with Kaplan because the bonding company that guaranteed his financing wouldn't allow him to offer credit to a criminal. Kaplan went home that night and thought about the guy. Honor mattered a lot to Kaplan. The man was willing to take Kaplan's word against the FBI's. The man was taking on a huge risk. The situation didn't fit Kaplan's sense of right and wrong. Kaplan believed it was wrong for him to put the other guy in jeopardy. He also knew that it would be impossible to sustain the lie that he wasn't an ex-con. One phone call would result in the other man knowing Kaplan was lying.

"Five o'clock the next morning, Kaplan was parked in front of the man's office. When the guy got to work they had coffee together. Kaplan told him the truth. Kaplan said he had done time. He had friends in organized crime, he said, but he wasn't controlled by the mafia. Kaplan had a note from the guy guaranteeing eight hundred thousand dollars as security on a designer jeans deal. Kaplan took it from his pocket and offered to return it. The loss of financing would be ruinous to Kaplan, but he was going to keep his word. The guy was touched. He told Kaplan he could keep the note for ninety days. Kaplan had the time to make other arrangements and his business wasn't destroyed.

"The federal government had displayed in a vivid way its power over Kaplan. From that day forward, Kaplan hated the FBI. The FBI represented everything dishonorable and despicable to him. Now that he had been arrested in New York City, Kaplan was willing to stand trial and go to prison as a matter of principle. Snitching was not an option, not with the FBI involved. But Kaplan didn't know how steep a price he was going to pay for his silence. I didn't know how much time I would spend trying to get him to break that silence. Years of his life, years of mine."



1. Gigante was one of the last remaining symbols of mob defiance. For years he had been a fixture in lower Manhattan, a mumbling, unshaven, mentally unbalanced mobster wearing a bathrobe and pausing to urinate on the sidewalk. Prosecutors were determined to show it was an act. Throughout the late eighties and early nineties, federal prosecutor Charles Rose had targeted Gigante. In the 1990 Windows Case Gigante had managed to have the charges against him severed from the main case. Free on $1 million bond, Gigante had tricked law enforcement into thinking he lived with his mother on Sullivan Street, in Greenwich Village, when in fact he had a wife and five children living in comfort in suburban New Jersey and a mistress set up in a posh Upper East Side townhouse with the three children the couple had together.
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Re: The Brotherhoods: The True Story of Two Cops Who Murdere

Postby admin » Wed Jun 18, 2014 2:13 am



By the fall of 1996, Detective William Oldham had become one of the "go-to guys" in the Major Case Squad -- a successor to Detective Stephen Caracappa. Now forty-two years old, Oldham had been in the squad for more than six years. After the Born to Kill investigation, he had spent a year and a half investigating the Chinese Tong On gang in Baltimore, Washington, and New York, and an outfit known as the Mod Squad (a group of heroin dealers with a white kid, black kid, and two Chinese kids). His experience making RICO cases had expanded and deepened his ability to maneuver in the competitive world of organized crime law enforcement. He was fulfilling his deepest ambitions. "I had arrived," Oldham recalled. "I made my own cases. I was autonomous, to a large extent, free to pursue crimes and criminals that interested me. It was my version of starring on Broadway or making a fortune on Wall Street. The mafia had been pretty much defeated. I never made it to the OCHU -- which was disbanded after Caracappa left. But I was enterprising and I was busy. I scavenged for cold cases that everyone had given up on. I wanted to take the harder cases. It was ego, to some extent. But I also perceived a need.

"There were forty thousand cops in the NYPD and I loved them and would do anything for them. There were probably two hundred detectives who carried the department when it came to serious crime. They were scattered around the precincts, in Intel, Homicide, Major Case. If a case came in that demanded the best, or a question arose that needed to be answered, no matter what, there was a small group of investigators who bosses and beat cops could approach. It was what 'go-to' meant. I could help other detectives. But I had my own cases, too. My career was thriving. But it was taking a toll. I don't know when, precisely, it began to change. Police work was muddied up for me. I got muddied up as well. It's inevitable. If you spend a lot of time around evil, it hardens you. I went looking for the worst criminals. Killers, rapists, psychopaths, men who could torture and murder children. The criminals I wanted had little pity, no remorse. I saw that bet and raised it. I was willing to push the envelope. I was a little arrogant. People I worked with called me 'Billy' because the diminution made me seem nicer than I was. I got the job done but I wouldn't win any popularity contests. I had hardened myself -- heart and soul."

Oldham now operated nearly exclusively out of the offices of the Eastern District in One Pierrepont Plaza in downtown Brooklyn. Oldham wanted to be close to the action -- and a good proportion of the biggest cases in the city and the country wound up in the offices of the federal prosecutors working in Brooklyn. He rarely turned up at NYPD headquarters in lower Manhattan. He clocked in for duty by gassing up at the department pump at One Police Plaza. The printout showed that he had been at headquarters at that time on that date so it couldn't be claimed that he had not reported for work. But he went weeks without going up to the Major Case Squad office. "Half the time I didn't tell the bosses what I was working on. The leaks of the eighties and early nineties had decreased but there was still the possibility of a breach in security and I didn't want my snitches hurt. If I didn't tell the bosses what I was doing they couldn't tell me not to do it. If no one knew what I was doing, word wouldn't get to the FBI so the Bureau couldn't steal my cases. It also kept people guessing. It gave me the freedom to take on cases that I thought mattered. I always had two or three or four investigations lined up to work so I wouldn't be stuck with nothing to do after I closed a case. I called it 'the back burner.' I kept cases on the back burner for years -- just thinking about them, playing them out in my head, waiting for the time to work it, or a lucky break."

Oldham's small office in the Eastern District appeared chaotic, with crime scene photos and rap sheets and DD-5s scattered on every surface. The boxes he used to collect evidence related to the cases he was churning over in his mind also contained random items from his personal life: discarded ties, theater ticket stubs, hardcover novels. The assortment was, indeed, chaotic, but Oldham knew where everything was. Gathering material on lost causes and vagrant cases was more than a hobby for Oldham. It was a mania. He routinely made calls to contacts he had, ranging from the upper echelons of the Department of Justice in Washington to precinct detectives, to test theories or ask questions. Avoiding the bureaucracy of law enforcement had become a particular specialty of Oldham's. If he wanted a document, he contrived to get it as quickly as possible and nearly always by circumventing procedures. Even if it was relatively easy to use official channels, Oldham found pleasure in using back channels, keeping himself sharp and connected to the people who knew how to play the system.

"The back burner consisted of crimes I was interested in -- or potential crimes, or suspected crimes, or possible crimes. If a subject or a person caught my eye, I'd start up on them. I'd gather up what was available, from newspaper clippings to surveillance reports -- whatever I could get my hands on. When I was drinking, the back burner tended to go to a low simmer. But when I was sober, my mind was constantly working those cases. I kept myself from doing nothing by going through the boxes, cross-referencing and contemplating and waiting for a picture to emerge. Often I didn't know if the 'cases' I had on the back burner were cases at all. That was how it was with Caracappa and Eppolito. I saw the headlines in the newspaper in 1994 about Casso's snitching on them, like the rest of the city, and it raised my suspicions. It was why I had Mafia Cop in my desk drawer. But I figured the FBI would make the case, if there was a case. By then the FBI had been told four times of Casso's source in the NYPD -- by Al D'Arco, Pete Chiodo, Sammy Gravano, and Casso himself. I just had that book and my suspicions of Caracappa simmering away."

In early October 1996, Oldham was walking along a corridor in the Eastern District offices when he overheard a conversation about the rap sheet of one Walter Johnson, aka "King Tut." Assistant U.S. Attorney Sam Buell was marvelling at the length of the document. Curious, Oldham stepped inside Buell's office and asked to see King Tut's rap. "It was literally several feet long," Oldham recalled. "Rappers rapped about their criminal history, but Tut's dully prosaic rap sheet showed he was a menace to society. Tut was an aspiring rapper but his real art was committing crime -- and getting away with it. Rap sheets don't just include convictions. They include arrests. An arrest may go nowhere but it still means something to cops, who know convictions don't necessarily comport with guilt. The arrests dated back to ripping off ten-speeds when Walter Johnson was just a boy. When he was nineteen years old, he stuck up three hundred worshippers at his mother's Jehovah's Witness church, demanding their cash and valuables at gunpoint as the congregation knelt in prayer. Out on bail pending trial, Tut and his four-man-child posse boarded a city bus and robbed half a dozen passengers of their meager possessions. On and on it went: charges of assault, gun possession, involvement in a shootout with three police officers. But there were only a couple of relatively minor convictions. As I read his rap sheet, I knew I was going to take a case."

The same day, Oldham began an investigation of Walter Johnson. Oldham started by calling up the DD-Ss for a shootout Tut had gotten into with the three cops. According to eyewitness reports from the day in question, King Tut had gone with his younger brother and his son to get a haircut at a three-chair barbershop in Brownsville, home turf of heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson and one of the roughest areas in Brooklyn. "Walter Johnson, starring in his own life story in the role of King Tut, walked in to find three NYPD cops in the three chairs. Words were exchanged. Voices were raised, threats leveled. Guns were produced. A shootout transpired in very close quarters. The so-called King and his son weren't hit. All three cops were wounded. Police Officer Richard Aviles was paralyzed -- at twenty-four years old. Tut later denied that he had fired any shots. The outcome was not unusual for him. He was infamous in the rap community, for his violence and for the inability of law enforcement to convict and imprison him."

Oldham's work on the Tut case led him to undertake an investigation of potential connections between Sean "Puffy" Combs's Bad Boy Records and violent criminal organizations. The investigation would later stall with the murder of "Biggie" Smalls in Los Angeles, and no charges were brought. In the hyper-hyped world of gangster rap, rumors ran rampant that Tut was a member of the "Black Mafia," an organization Oldham didn't believe existed. Interviewing Tut's many victims, or the few who were willing to talk, Oldham developed an informant -- a woman who was an executive in the music industry who had been robbed and brutally assaulted by Tut. She told Oldham that real gangsters like King Tut robbed "gangsta rappers."

"The faux gangstas were terrified of thugs like Tut and his sidekick Haitian Jack. Tut traveled to the BET Music Awards ceremony in L.A., high-end clubs, concerts, specifically to stick up celebrity 'outlaw' rappers. The performers looked bad on MTV, and inspired a generation of kids in the suburbs to emulate their style, but the tough talk on the TV did not impress the Brownsville boys. Victims of Tut and his posse had nowhere to turn. Law enforcement was not overly concerned about the plight of the rappers, to put it politely. The supposed gangstas were rapping about shooting cops and that didn't endear them to law enforcement officials. Stopping their victimization wasn't high on our list of priorities. It was why rappers had so much personal security."

In November 1994 Tut had accosted Tupac Shakur in the lobby of a Times Square building in midtown Manhattan. The rapper had finished a recording session and was on his way into the building for a meeting when a gun fight erupted as Tut robbed $40,000 worth of gold and diamond jewelry from Shakur. The rapper was shot five times but managed to survive -- only to be murdered in Las Vegas in September 1996 by an unidentified assailant. "Before he was killed, Tupac rapped about Tut," Oldham said. "It was the usual Shakur recipe -- profanity, violence, glorification of crime and mob life. What was different and interesting was the extent to which Shakur's encounter with Tut gave him a glimpse of the reality Tut represented. For Shakur it was the 'realest shit' he ever saw."

Through the month of October, with the assistance of Oldham's informant, Oldham and his Major Case partners, Detectives George Slater and Jimmy Haley, accumulated evidence on a string of robberies and extortions pulled off by Tut. The crimes were relatively minor, compared with the serial criminal behavior. But Oldham was aiming to build a federal case against King Tut. By the end of October Detectives Oldham, Slater, and Haley attended a hearing for Tut in Brooklyn Supreme Court. The unsuspecting gangster was appearing for a status conference on a state assault charge. On this day, unbeknownst to Tut, the Brooklyn district attorney would drop the state charges. Oldham and his partners planned to rearrest him under the new federal "three strikes" statute. The law provided that anyone convicted of three violent felonies was subject to a sentence of life imprisonment upon conviction of another violent felony in federal court. "It's a horrible law. I revile the law. It's repugnant. In California people get three different hub-cap theft convictions and they go away for life. But the law was custom-made for Tut. If you've got a tool and you have a bloodsucker like Tut you've got to use it. It was the first and last time I used the three strikes law."

On October 24, King Tut came into the courtroom with his lawyer. The pair sat in the second row of the gallery and continued a whispered conversation about the procedural matter on the agenda. Tut was free on bail and had little to fear from the state charges. Oldham and his partners had notified the court officers, the DA, and the judge of what they were about to do. "Before Tut's case was called, we surrounded him and his attorney -- one on each side, one behind. I was on Tut's left. I leaned over and explained that I was going to arrest him. I spoke quietly, but Tut didn't appreciate the courtesy. He had been arrested hundreds of times. He started emptying his pockets, pushing his possessions to his attorney -- scraps of paper with phone numbers, his wallet, his phone book, his pager, it was potential evidence. 'What did I do?' Tut whined loudly, like an innocent man. Finally I sat on his lawyer to keep him from accepting Tut's paraphernalia. He made a CCRB [Civilian Complaint Review Board] complaint, but the people in the courtroom -- the judge, prosecutors, and court officers -- thought so little of the lawyer that, when they were interviewed by CCRB, 'No one saw nothing,' even though it happened in open court.

"I reported the incident, saying I attempted to sit between the attorney and client. We put Tut in handcuffs and 'leg irons' and walked him four blocks through the busy midday traffic of downtown Brooklyn to the federal courthouse. King Tut wasn't such a king after all. It was an exercise in public relations. Tut was infamous in Brooklyn and the rap community. He thought he was untouchable. It turned out he was touchable -- and cuffable and convictable."


On the Friday after Thanksgiving Day, 1996, William David Oldham III married Andrea Beth Rashish in a private Jewish ceremony at Alison's on Dominick, a small romantic restaurant in west Soho. Oldham had asked her to marry him on September 1, the anniversary of the death of his younger brother John. "September 1 was always a hard one for me. I told Andrea I wanted to invest that day with some joy. We lived in a loft on Mott Street on the border between Little Italy and Chinatown. We had a black standard poodle. Andrea was out walking the dog one evening. The area was dead at night in those days, before it became trendy. She used to walk down Mulberry Street because she knew the gangsters at Gotti's social club, the Ravenite, would provide some protection for a young woman walking her dog through the deserted streets. She often exchanged pleasantries with wiseguys smoking cigars on folding chairs in front of the club. On the night in question, a warm June night, she turned the corner from Broome Street onto Mott Street to find a group of young Asian men who seemed to be roughhousing -- five or six guys had circled one guy. She watched as the guy in the center had his head smashed into a light pole. They were actually mugging the guy. Our trusty poodle sensed Andrea's adrenaline rush and lunged on her leash, barking. Andrea shouted out, 'Okay boys, the party's over.' The muggers scattered like cockroaches. Even my wife was fighting crime, making New York City a safer place for all."

During his investigation of Tut, Oldham learned a great deal about criminal behavior in the rap world. Tut had become the entree to a much larger investigation. In March 1997, Oldham flew to California to attend the 11th Annual Soul Train Music Awards. He was now tagging rap superstar Chris Wallace, aka the Notorious B.I.G. Biggie Smalls, as he was also known, was involved a state gun charge that arose from a search of the house in Nutley, New Jersey, where he lived with Kimberly Jones, better known as Lil' Kim. "Prospecting for crime often meant finding small, or seemingly small, offenses like what I had on Smalls. One step at a time, you build and build until you have the makings of a major case. Police work, for me, wasn't a passive enterprise. Crimes didn't come to me, I went looking for them. It was like starting a small business. Rap was a hole I found in the market of criminal investigations and I set out to fill it."

On the evening of March 8, 1997, Oldham posed as one of the photographers on the dais outside the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, where the Soul Train Music Awards were being held. Shakur had been killed six months earlier but he was nominated for Rap Album of the Year for All Eyez on Me. The next day, Biggie Smalls would be killed driving away from a music industry party in Mid- Wilshire's Museum Row. Hundreds of industry executives and musicians were pouring out of the building at the time, but police had trouble finding anyone who admitted witnessing the shooting. It was a murder that spawned a subindustry of conspiracy theorists alleging law enforcement links to gangster rap.

As he stood on the dais, Oldham received a call from DEA Special Agent Eileen Dinnan. Oldham had not talked to Dinnan for more than a year. She was young and inexperienced but a gung ho DEA investigator. Oldham had helped her with her first major investigation into a mob-related marijuana ring that resulted in the conviction of a number of leading Luchese killers. Dinnan was calling from New York City. She asked when Oldham was going to be back in town. Oldham said he had to return the following day to testify in a Chinese street gang case then being tried in Brooklyn.

"You remember that pot case we worked on?" Dinnan asked. "The Kaplan case?"

Oldham did remember. After Burton Kaplan was arrested, Oldham had helped Dinnan prep Robert Molini, a convicted murderer turned cooperator. As far as Oldham was concerned, Kaplan was a wealthy businessman who dealt pot. Dinnan had told Oldham about the pressure from high officials in federal law enforcement to get Kaplan to cooperate. Kaplan was connected with a significant number of serious mobsters, Dinnan explained, which was why the government was interested in getting him to talk. "Dinnan didn't know about Kaplan's role in the Caracappa and Eppolito conspiracy," Oldham recalled. "Neither of us knew anything much more than the basics that had appeared in the press and the rumors that circulated at the time but soon died down. But Eileen knew my way of working. She knew I was always on the lookout for a good case. She knew I wasn't interested in investigation of cops, per se, but she also knew if she had a lead about a leak inside the NYPD I could be trusted to look into the matter -- and get to the bottom of it."

"I've got a cooperator I'm debriefing," Dinnan said to Oldham. "Her name is Monica Galpine. She was married to Kaplan's flunky Tommy Galpine. The other day she started talking about cops who worked for Kaplan and Galpine. They were NYPD. One of them was a big fat guy who wrote a book about the mafia. It sounds like these cops were pretty tight with Kaplan. I told Monica I didn't want to know anything about it, but that I knew someone who might. That's you. You can't talk to her until she's done testifying but I thought I should let you know. What do you think? You interested?"

"Fuck, yeah," Oldham said, excitedly.

"The memory is crystal clear," Oldham recalled. "The limos were pulling up in L.A. I immediately knew what Dinnan had to be talking about. Eppolito had written Mafia Cop. If it was Eppolito it had to be Caracappa. The moment was surreal. I was set up on gangsta musicians. I was talking about NYPD detective hit men. An old clothing wholesaler back in New York was sitting on the biggest corruption case in the history of the NYPD -- and I was going to have a head start on it. Life was great. I wasn't rich. I wasn't famous. But Jesus, I loved that job. I had the best job in the world. I went around putting bad guys in prison forever. I righted wrongs. Now I had a lead on Caracappa and Eppolito -- a pair that were notorious original gangsters, not in some rap song but for real."

Oldham started to follow the Burton Kaplan case closely. Jury selection for the trial of The United States v. Burton Kaplan and Thomas Calpine was completed in early May 1997. On May 6, Kaplan's role in the conspiracy was revealed in the press for the first time by mob reporter Jerry Capeci. "Peds Eye Rat Trap to Snag Two Ex-Cops," the headline in the Daily News said. The story ran on page twenty-six, next to advertisements for silk brassieres and gas barbecues. "The feds have hit a reputed mob associate with drug and tax charges in the hope of jump-starting an investigation of two retired New York City detectives suspected of being mob hit men," Capeci wrote. "Burton Kaplan, an alleged former associate of one-time Luchese family underboss Anthony 'Gaspipe' Casso, is being prosecuted in an effort to coerce him into testifying against the detectives, sources said." After a two-year investigation, prosecutors in the Eastern District had concluded that the only way to make a case against Caracappa and Eppolito was with the cooperation of Kaplan. James Orenstein, the federal prosecutor in charge of the file, had written a memorandum on the case, Capeci reported. "In the memo, Orenstein told his supervisor, Mark Feldman, that his investigation had 'been stalled for a long time and is likely to remain that way unless Kaplan flips.'''

Oldham couldn't wait for the Kaplan and Galpine trial to end. Until then Dinnan wouldn't talk to him, for fear of jeopardizing the prosecution's case. The trial lasted three weeks. The defense theory was that the government was framing Kaplan as a way of punishing him for refusing to cooperate against Caracappa and Eppolito. Two of the lead witnesses for the prosecution were Monica Galpine and the cooperator, Robert Molini.

"At the heart of a lot of criminal cases there are fundamental questions that can never be known for a fact. Scientific evidence like DNA and fingerprints provide certainty. But cases like the one against Kaplan and Galpine don't have that kind of proof. It's a matter of testimony, collaboration, credibility. The truth has to be decided. It's why there are juries. Kaplan believed Molini and Monica Galpine lied on the stand. There were certainly reasons to question her credibility. Monica Galpine was a woman who despised her ex-husband and his partner Burt Kaplan. Fat Bobby Molini had his own reasons to try to ingratiate himself with the government. "

Until months earlier, Molini had been housed in the Otisville Witness Security Unit with Anthony Casso and Big Sal Miciotta. Miciotta, the Colombo captain now living in an undisclosed location, remembered Molini well. "I spent countless hours playing cards with Fat Bobby Molini in Otisville," Miciotta recalled. "He was a young guy in his early thirties, short, fat, bald-headed, a Luchese wannabe. He was from Canarsie. On the outside Molini kept a lion in his house -- maybe it was a cougar, but it was an exotic cat. Inside the witness protection unit, he was a mutt, a momma's boy. Molini was one of Casso's minions. Fat Bobby was in on Casso's scam to bribe the guards. Casso was Molini's idol. Casso had a big grudge against Kaplan, because he had convinced himself that Kaplan had given up his New Jersey hideout and thus got Casso caught. It wasn't true, of course, but that didn't matter to Gaspipe. Casso had tried to get Kaplan killed. If Casso wanted to get revenge against Kaplan, Molini would be a prime candidate to help put Kaplan away."

The motive for Molini himself was strong. In September 1996, Molini had been released from Otisville as part of his cooperation agreement. But Miciotta snitching on Casso's schemes in the unit had put Molini at risk. By the time Molini was freed, the inspector general's investigation of the Witness Security Unit had revealed the depth of corruption inside Otisville. If Molini were caught participating in Casso's scam, his cooperation agreement would be "breached" and he would be put back in prison and sentenced again, to an additional four or five years. Molini decided to confess before his role was revealed. In October he told the authorities that he had bribed a guard to bring him food and clothing. He was locked up. Stuck back in prison, a snitch undone by another snitch, Molini needed to come up with a way to get back in the good graces of the government. Molini had to find a new crime to snitch on -- something big.

"Molini was a lower-level guy, but he was a conniver," Miciotta recalled. "The bribery charge was a serious offense. He was in the smuggling ring up to his eyeballs. For Molini to save his ass he had to give up a guy further up the food chain. He had to bring in the prize to get a reduction in sentence. Who better than Burt Kaplan? The government had a hard-on a mile wide for Kaplan."

In the Eastern District courthouse, Molini took the stand and testified in great detail about Kaplan's marijuana enterprise. "Kaplan listened to Molini's testimony absolutely seething," Oldham recalled. "Every day prosecutors wheeled in a shopping cart of pot that was supposed to be Kaplan's. But it wasn't. Kaplan wasn't just a marijuana dealer -- he was a quality marijuana dealer. Kaplan's pot was processed into two-foot-long ingots that looked nothing like the pile of irregular and second-rate weed in court. Tommy Galpine inspected the marijuana and told Kaplan it wasn't theirs. Kaplan wouldn't sell the low-grade grass the DEA displayed to the jury. Kaplan's pot was twice as good.

"Molini testified that he knew Kaplan, which drove Kaplan wild with fury. According to Kaplan, the two had never been introduced or talked. Molini had tried to meet Kaplan. But Kaplan wanted nothing to do with Molini. Kaplan kept his circle small and controlled. It was the same principle he used in dealing with Caracappa and Eppolito. Everything was on a 'need to know' basis. Kaplan had seen Molini at his warehouse on Staten Island but that was as far as it went. Once, at a party Molini asked another wiseguy to introduce him to Kaplan but Kaplan refused. Kaplan said there was no reason to meet Molini and he had no desire to meet Molini. And there was Molini giving sworn testimony about the inner workings of Kaplan's operations."

The case against Kaplan and Galpine was not ironclad. Much of the evidence was circumstantial, and cooperators like Robert Molini were not always credible to jurors. Kaplan had reason to hope that an acquittal might be the outcome. If convicted, he would be imprisoned for years. If he agreed to cooperate against Caracappa and Eppolito, there was an extremely high chance he would serve no time at all. Even as the trial proceeded, as the government put on their case against Kaplan and Galpine, Kaplan was approached.

"The pressure on Kaplan to cooperate was intense," Oldham recalled. "In the middle of the proceedings, the Organized Crime Task Force went to Kaplan and suggested they come to terms. It was not too late for Kaplan to cut a deal. Kaplan refused. Kaplan and his associate Tommy Galpine were convicted. After the guilty verdict, while Kaplan was waiting to be sentenced, the government came to him yet again and asked for his cooperation -- and he said no. For a year Kaplan was repeatedly and insistently offered a deal. Kaplan just as repeatedly and insistently turned the offer down. Kaplan received a sentence of twenty-seven years. The sentence was incredibly harsh. Twenty-seven years was more than a lot of murderers got.

"Burton Kaplan had chosen his life -- the life. Framed, he believed, by the federal government, he would prefer to spend the rest of his life behind bars to giving law enforcement the satisfaction of wearing him down and forcing him to give in. Post-conviction, as Kaplan and Galpine waited to be shipped out to their assigned federal penitentiaries, Kaplan told Tommy Galpine how they would conduct themselves. They would not snitch. In the post-omerta age with made men flipping by the dozen, omerta would be kept by a Jewish pot dealer and his oafish Irish-American sidekick."

"We're both men," Kaplan said to Galpine. "We got to do what we got to do. We got to go to jail."

"I'm with you," Galpine said.


On an August afternoon in 1997, a meeting with Monica Galpine was set for the Floridian Diner, a small place on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn. Oldham and Dinnan were drinking coffee in a corner booth when Monica Galpine arrived. She gave the diner a long look-over, to make sure there was no one she recognized, and then joined Oldham and Dinnan. She sat with her back to the rest of the restaurant so only the back of her head would be visible to the other patrons. Introductions were made. Galpine lit a cigarette -- the first of half a dozen she smoked in the next hour.

"Monica Galpine was nearly good-looking but not quite," Oldham recalled. "She was a bottle blonde with big hair, dressed in tight white with spiky boots with fringes dangling down. She was tough-looking, a neighborhood girl. From the trial transcripts I knew she and Galpine had broken up badly. He was a cokehead and she was a drinker and prone to hysterical late-night calls to the Kaplans. Her testimony was critical in the conviction of Kaplan and Galpine. She was an angry woman, a scorned woman, and a scared woman. Gaining her trust and confidence wasn't going to be easy."

She was afraid Burt and her husband were going to come after her, she said, toking on her cigarette.

"He got twenty-seven years," Oldham said. "He ain't doing nothing but staring at a wall."

"Burt's got connections," she said. "He's got power and money."

She ashed her cigarette.

"Burt had cops," she said. "Tommy had cops."

"That's why I'm here," Oldham said. "I want to hear about it."

Monica Galpine began to tell her story. She told how Tommy had met Burt when he was a teenager working for an air-conditioning company. By the time she met Galpine, he was advancing up the ranks of Kaplan's criminal and legitimate operations. Monica was working as a nurse in a psychiatric ward in the city. She believed Kaplan sapped Tommy's affections with his constant demands.

According to Monica Galpine, her husband didn't just admire Burton Kaplan. Tommy Galpine was in the thrall of Kaplan. Whatever Kaplan wanted done, Galpine did. She said her husband had no time for her, or their marriage. "Tommy was Burt's 'butt boy,' she said. 'Tommy Tagalong.' Her contempt was palpable. She truly despised Kaplan. If Galpine had been even remotely decent to her she would have kept his secrets and been his defender forever. She was no innocent trying to see justice was done. She wanted to get back at Kaplan and then Galpine. Kaplan was too smart to ever treat one of his intimates so poorly. Kaplan kept his wife sufficiently content to keep her quiet. Not a dunce like Galpine, who didn't understand one of the little known precepts of a life in crime is keeping your loved ones happy -- at least happy or sedate enough that they won't rat you out."

Monica Galpine said she used to go to Burt's house on 85th Street with Tommy to get money for the cops. Tommy made her wait in the car. He always came out of Burt's place carrying a manila envelope. He'd tell her it was for "the cops." Tommy thought it was amazing that Burt had real police officers working for him. She never met "the cops," she said. She didn't know their names or anything about them except that they worked for Burt and Tommy and they got paid a fat wad of cash.

Kaplan's caution reached so far as to try to cover for Galpine. When Monica grew hysterical and claimed Galpine was beating her -- something that was never proven -- Kaplan and his wife Eleanor would pick her up and let her stay with them. When the Galpines finally split up, the Kaplans allowed Monica to stay with them while she got back on her feet. Ordinarily, such gestures might have engendered gratitude. But Monica Galpine's fury toward her husband and his millionaire mentor was all-encompassing.

"Then there was the time at the Chinese restaurant," she said.

"What's that?" Oldham asked.

"New China Inn," Galpine said. "Over on Flatbush." She'd gone there with Tommy for dinner one time. He had started laughing. She had asked why. He had jerked his head at a framed eight-by-ten glossy headshot hanging on the wall. The photograph was of a guy -- beefy, with a mustache, huge jaw, dumb eyes. "That's one of our cops," he had said. "He's got his picture on the fucking wall."

Oldham discovered the New China Inn had closed a few years earlier. But he spent days making inquiries, an effort that resulted in locating the former owners, who had retired to the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn. Oldham drove out to meet Nancy Wong, an elderly Cantonese woman who was tending a neatly kept flower garden in front of a modest row house when Oldham pulled up. After a brief chat, Oldham asked if she recalled a picture hung on the wall of the New China Inn.

"That's Rouie Epporito," Mrs. Wong said. "He think he big star and stuff. He never pay for dinner."


The lead was small, and the testimony of Mrs. Nancy Wong wouldn't amount to much in a court of law, but for Oldham the identification was not just another indication that he was on the right trail. He was definitely going to start up an investigation. Others had attempted the case, he knew, and all had failed. Convincing Kaplan to snitch seemed to have been the beginning and ending of their efforts. Oldham would try another way. He would pursue the case from an oblique angle. Instead of going directly to Kaplan and pitching a deal to him -- an approach that was proven to fail -- Oldham would start to inform himself about the lives of the people he was investigating. Studying the character of your suspects was the beginning for any serious investigation. A hunter needed to know his prey -- strengths, weaknesses, history.

The next day, Dinnan met Oldham at the offices of the Eastern District. She handed him a box from the Kaplan-Galpine trial. She said it might help him with "the cops." Oldham took it to a conference room on the tenth floor. He closed and locked the door. Alone, Oldham opened the box. Inside were financial documents, cancelled checks, pen registers, videotapes of Kaplan's warehouse, lists of associates, and memos on surveillance -- evidence that turns into moldy ephemera the moment a verdict is read. Oldham picked up Burt Kaplan's phone book. It was filled with contacts -- business associates, friends, family. The phone book had been seized from Kaplan's valise when he was arrested on the marijuana charges in 1996. The book had the appearance of disguising as much information as it revealed about Kaplan's web of criminal associations.

"I pored over the phone book for hours and hours," Oldham said. "There were numbers crossed out. There were numbers written over. Kaplan had been a cryptographer when he was in the Navy in the fifties. He understood how to bury a number or an identity. My mother had been in naval intelligence. It was the kind of puzzle I loved.

"I was in the neighborhood on an apprehension warrant that week so I decided to go by the 63rd Precinct house. I wanted to see if I could get Eppolito's beeper number. I wanted to look through Kaplan's phone book to see if it was in there -- maybe with a number reversed or scratched out. It would also give me the chance to trace the calls that came into that beeper number. Normally, I would have to get a subpoena to find that out but I had friends in the business who would run a phone number for me. I also wanted to get a read on the precinct-level rep of Eppolito. I wanted to ask around the detective squad room -- see who remembered him, what he was like. Casually. I didn't want to trip any alarms, or alert Eppolito that a Major Case detective had been in asking questions. When I walked into the detective squad room there was a photograph of Eppolito on the wall. I had half forgotten what a jerkoff he was. I told them I wanted to get in touch with him so they pulled his stuff out. I looked around, too."

Oldham discovered the detectives in the Six-Three wouldn't move the picture until something took its place. No one wanted to offend someone important. He was a great guy, they said. Oldham was not surprised. Cops accused of wrongdoing were not given the benefit of the doubt in the NYPD -- they were given the benefit beyond reasonable doubt. Police culture held that defending fellow officers was one of the foremost articles of faith. From the onset, Oldham decided not to seek permission from his supervisors in the Major Case Squad. Caracappa had left Major Case five years earlier. But word traveled rapidly in those circles, Oldham knew, and he didn't want to tip his hand about taking up the case. He would freelance for a while, fly under the radar, and see where it took him.


A few weeks later, at the sentencing of Walter Johnson, aka King Tut, Oldham sat in the gallery of Judge Frederic Block's courtroom. A compact man in his forties, casually dressed, sat two rows behind Oldham scribbling in a notebook. Oldham recognized his face but couldn't remember the name. The man had a press pass hung around his neck. Oldham read the name: Jerry Capeci. "I only knew Capeci by reputation. He was the premier mob reporter -- as a much a part of the Brooklyn OC landscape as the mobsters, detectives, federal agents, criminal defense attorneys, prosecutors, and judges. There were few people in law enforcement I could talk to but I needed guidance to navigate the waters of a mafia case. I had studied organized crime and I knew a fair bit -- more than people thought I did, which was an advantage in itself -- but I was looking for help. A friend of mine, Willie Rashbaum, was a crime reporter and he spoke highly of Capeci's reporting discretion and integrity. I introduced myself. Capeci had heard my name."

"You did the Plum Blossom case," Capeci said to Oldham, referring to his investigation of a Chinatown gang notorious for torturing Chinese immigrants for ransom. "That was a great case."

"Thanks," Oldham said. "Can I speak to you in the hallway for a minute?"

The two men walked out into the marble hallway on the fourth floor of the Brooklyn federal courthouse. As usual, the hallway was deserted, apart from an attorney trying to console a young mother with an infant, who was weeping at the prospect of losing her husband to federal custody.

"I don't have a story for you," Oldham said. "I need your help. Can I trust you to keep it between us?"

Capeci closed his notebook.

''I'm looking at Caracappa and Eppolito," Oldham said. "I've ID'd Louie as one of Kaplan's cops. I got him in a photograph in a Chinese restaurant in Flatbush."

"I can't believe no one has taken that case yet," Capeci said. He appeared to be offended that the prosecution had languished for such a long time.

"Well, I am," Oldham said. "You think those guys did it?"

"I know you're on the right track," Capeci said. "I've heard rumors from the other side. If I can help you, let me know."

Capeci took out a card and scribbled his cell number on the back. Oldham had another "Deep Throat" in the organized crime world to call upon.

"There were certain guys in law enforcement that I knew I could talk to. One was Matty Zeuman, a retired detective I knew from the Intelligence Division in the eighties. I knew Matty was friendly with another retired detective named Kenny McCabe. I figured McCabe was key. I had always heard no one in the city knew more about wiseguys than McCabe. Some guys call in their work, and others work hard. McCabe's life was the job. He spent his days off attending mob funerals or sitting in front of John Gotti's house taking photographs. McCabe was dubbed cosa nostra's 'unofficial photographer,' a kind of cop photojournalist. Gangsters sent out wedding cake to McCabe -- which he refused. McCabe didn't actually need the photos. He had a photographic memory. But McCabe figured, rightly, that there was no way to know what minor league figure, or unknown man in a trench coat with the collar turned up, could be the key to a huge case. McCabe was the detective who arrested Big Paul Castellano for the Commission Case. He worked John Gotti, more than once. McCabe was said to be able to tell the rank and standing of wiseguys just by looking at their behavior."

McCabe's office was on the seventh floor of the United States Attorney's Office in the Southern District of New York, a large room overlooking St. Andrew's Plaza in lower Manhattan. McCabe was fiftyish, large, Irish-American, jovial. He might have looked like just another beefy cop but his eyes were alive and displayed an unusual intelligence. McCabe offered Oldham a seat. An awkward few seconds passed. Oldham wasn't sure how to broach the subject of Caracappa and Eppolito. If the two detectives were guilty of the conspiracy Casso had described, it was certain that one of the people Caracappa had duped into giving him sensitive information was Kenny McCabe. "I was afraid McCabe might think I had come to embarrass him," Oldham recalled. "Nothing could be further from the truth. But the embarrassment couldn't be avoided. The case was a stain on detectives who worked in OC and dealt with Caracappa or Eppolito. In 1994, when the accusations were published in the newspapers, detectives started to take inventory of their interactions with the two 'mafia cops' and wonder if they had inadvertently got someone killed or given away a case."

McCabe was understandably sheepish when Oldham talked about Caracappa and Eppolito. The unease passed quickly. McCabe turned out to be generous, patient, and encouraging. Like Oldham and many other NYPD detectives, McCabe had mulled the matter over many times. There was an extremely good chance that Caracappa and Eppolito were guilty. He confirmed what Oldham suspected. Caracappa had often come to McCabe with questions about ongoing investigations -- the Windows Case, the Painters Union Case, various snitches. Acting in good faith, never suspecting Caracappa was capable of betraying the force, McCabe had shared his vast store of knowledge. Access to McCabe's encyclopedic memory as well as his insider's awareness of virtually every significant law enforcement initiative against the mafia had amplified the harm Caracappa could wreak by multiples.

"I'll tell you one thing," McCabe said. "Steve was smart. I've thought about this a lot. There is no one moment that I can point to, but in retrospect I know he pumped me for information. I know what he was doing, looking back. I know it was him. There just isn't any way for me to prove it."

"You're not the only one with that problem," Oldham said.

"They did it," McCabe said. "Go get 'em."
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Re: The Brotherhoods: The True Story of Two Cops Who Murdere

Postby admin » Wed Jun 18, 2014 2:14 am



Oldham found his copy of Mafia Cop stuck in the back of the middle drawer of his desk at Major Case, the photograph of Caracappa and Eppolito clipped out from the middle. He read it again, slowly this time, methodically, dog-earing pages and scribbling in the margins as he went. For Oldham the book was now an investigative tool. In Mafia Cop Eppolito described in detail attacking a man with a lead pipe, hitting him in the throat repeatedly. Oldham went to the Aided and Action Center on the fifth floor of headquarters. Microfiche was kept there recording instances of injury to citizens documented by the police department. It was organized by precinct, by year, and alphabetically. Oldham was unable to find any reference to a man beaten with a pipe in his backyard during the year in question in the Six-Three. Oldham pulled Eppolito's arrest record. He was surprised at how few busts were noted.

"Nothing checked out. His exploits were on nearly every page of Mafia Cop. Everything about his police life had to be taken to be a fantasy. Eppolito wrote that he had stopped a truck hijacking in midcourse in broad daylight while he was on foot patrol as a rookie. He wrote that he was standing at a street corner when a truck loaded with swag sped by. Eppolito interdicted the truck single-handedly. What did he do, run after it until it hit a red light? Shoot warning shots in the air? Did he leap up on the running board and ram his pistol in the driver's ear? Eppolito obviously had a tenuous relationship with reality."

In Mafia Cop Eppolito recounted in detail the supposedly outrageous witch hunt of his administrative trial after his fingerprints were discovered on documents seized by the FBI during a raid on gangster Rosario Gambino's New Jersey home. Eppolito had been tried before NYPD Deputy Trials Commissioner Hugh Mo.

Mo knew the name Eppolito, Oldham learned. Years before, in the mid-seventies, Mo had been an assistant district attorney in Manhattan working in the consumer affairs bureau. Mo had been involved in the investigation of a warehouse on West 47th Street in Manhattan's Hell's Kitchen area. The warehouse held the possessions of tenants who had been evicted from their apartments. The poorest of the poor, families thrown into homelessness, their belongings were meant to be stored until they were collected. The warehouse was owned by Louis Eppolito's uncle, Jimmy the Clam Eppolito. Mo's investigation revealed that Jimmy the Clam was running a scam in the warehouse. When the marshals brought the property in, it was sorted through and everything of value sold. When the evicted tenants tried to collect their possessions they were told that their things had been lost. Mo had been appalled by the sleazy racket. He had obtained a search warrant for the warehouse. When his investigators went to execute the warrant he discovered that the warehouse had caught fire that very day. The documents and records in the building had been burned, along with the property and possessions of countless of the dispossessed.

"In Mafia Cop Eppolito claimed he had been exonerated by Mo," Oldham recalled. "But that wasn't the same as finding him completely innocent. The standard of proof in the proceeding was supposed to be the preponderance of evidence. The question was whether Eppolito was fit to be a cop, not if he was guilty of criminal conduct. But the department was skewed toward giving cops a soft shake. The photocopied reports that Eppolito had allegedly taken played no part in Mo's decision. The evidence was stipulated to by the lawyers so there were no questions of fact before Mo. Eppolito turned up with a scrapbook of newspaper articles about himself. Mo wondered why the department had given up on the case. Why not put on evidence? Mo thought that the department hadn't proved how the documents had wound up in New Jersey. The fingerprints had nothing to do with Mo's decision. Eppolito had obtained the documents from the Intelligence Division and the documents had turned up in Gambino's house with Eppolito's fingerprints on them. The inference should have been that Eppolito had sold them to Gambino. Eppolito's family were Gambinos. His father and uncles were Gambino hit men. But no evidence was placed before Mo explaining what Eppolito had said when he went to the Intelligence Bureau and requested the document. Mo wanted to close the loop. None of Eppolito's fellow detectives were called to be questioned about how organized crime intelligence was gathered, managed, and protected in the Six-Two."

There was a difference between the degrees of proof needed by a detective and a lawyer. "A lot of old detectives are bloodhounds," Hugh Mo recalled. "They rely on the smell test to see. The detective says if it smells it must be shitty. But the smell test is not good for lawyers. For me, if it smells it could be sulfur, a rotten egg, burned rubber. Obviously, by and large, the smell test proves to be accurate in most cases. What I'm basically saying is, give me all the evidence. The department gave up. They threw in the towel. They gave me nothing. Now the question becomes why."

Mo had no answer and it wasn't his job to find out. There was outrage at the highest levels inside the NYPD at Eppolito's acquittal. Chief of Detectives Richard NiCastro was furious, Mo recalled. "You found him not guilty, but in my book he's guilty," NiCastro told Mo. "Fuck him."

"NiCastro was angry for good reason," Oldham said. "We had the chance to get rid of Eppolito. People would be alive today if the department had been able to just do the minimum necessary to protect itself. But that was part of the problem in the NYPD. The institution was dysfunctional. It wasn't able to deal with Caracappa and Eppolito's level of deviance. Caracappa and Eppolito knew it, exploited it, killed with it. Mo remembered how astonished he had been when he went to a promotions ceremony only a couple of years later and saw Eppolito being promoted to the rank of second-grade detective. After the hearing, Mo had helped get Eppolito sent to the Six-Three, another mobland precinct in Brooklyn. The bosses wanted to send Eppolito as far away from the mafia as possible. Mo thought that wasn't fair. But Mo assumed that Eppolito would be under a cloud inside the force. The trial was damaging to his reputation. The story was reported in the newspapers. And there was Eppolito being promoted to second grade. Mo thought someone was doing some heavy lifting for Eppolito."


Oldham kept working his connections. Throughout his career, he had learned the value of tracking prisoners. Penitentiaries were not the end of the line. Oldham knew he could apply pressure long after sentencing. "Everyone has something to lose, even an inmate," Oldham knew. "It can be a tiny thing. The same is true in prison. There are good and bad penitentiaries -- and then there are awful ones. For an older prisoner medical care might be a priority, so the stresses of moving and never seeing the same doctor twice can be a fearsome prospect. It could be visitation privileges."

Oldham requested and received Tommy Galpine's intake folder from the security deputy warden at Federal Prison Camp Duluth in Minnesota. The folder contained Galpine's biographical information and notes from his interview with a social worker. In the file, Oldham found the name and address for one Inez Ramirez, Galpine's girlfriend. She lived on George's Lane in the Richmond Terrace section of Staten Island. Oldham drove out to see the house the next morning.

"She lived at the end of a dirt road in a rough neighborhood. It looked more like Appalachia than New York City. The two-story clapboard house was falling apart. There were broken windows, a refrigerator on the front porch, and a gray 1977 Plymouth up on blocks in the backyard. No one was home. I peered through the window. There was a garbage can filled with empty beer bottles. The sink was filled with dirty dishes. A massive brown mongrel lunged at me, barking madly, scratching at the window trying to break the pane. I backed off, scared he might break through the windows and tear me a new orifice."

Oldham learned that Inez Ramirez worked in a city cafeteria in downtown Brooklyn, only a few blocks from the courthouse and the offices of the Eastern District. Oldham went to the cafeteria for lunch. "Ramirez wasn't hard to spot. She was short, plain, and chubby. I ordered food from her. Her pay and benefits were poor, the prospects for promotion slim, and the shifts Ramirez was able to get sporadic. Ramirez was living near the poverty line, barely holding on. I knew that Kaplan's wife's circumstances weren't nearly as bad, I had seen Burt's house and how Eleanor was living. She had a nice place in Bensonhurst. She didn't seem to suffer economically from Burt's absence. She had a nice car, neatly trimmed lawn, a comfortable but presumably lonely existence. Kaplan had means. Galpine had nothing. It looked like I might have a wedge into Galpine. I figured Galpine would give sooner or later. If there was a weak link it was Galpine."

Oldham wrote to the Bureau of Prisons at the Duluth camp, on Department of Justice letterhead, requesting the tapes for all calls made by Tommy Galpine. All calls are taped in federal prison and kept for ninety days. The first batch of Galpine's tapes arrived the next week. Oldham had a boom box in his office he used to play the tapes to determine which were "pertinent" and "not pertinent." Oldham listened as the tape captured the phone ringing and Inez Ramirez answering. A recorded female voice preempted conversation. "This call is from a federal prison inmate," the female voice said in mechanical monotone. "This call is prepaid. You will not be charged for this call. To decline this call, hang up. To accept this call, press five. To decline further prepaid calls, press zero."

Ramirez pressed five. "Hang on," she said.

"I got plenty of time," Galpine said dryly.

A minute passed and Ramirez returned to the phone.

"Every time I call, you're never home," Galpine said. "You should get a cell phone. The best way to keep this relationship going is communication. I think you know that but maybe you're just too lazy to do it."

Ramirez sighed. This was clearly familiar territory.

"What's new? Anything new?" Galpine's voice was depressed and insecure. "I really love you, " he said.

She said, "I love you too."

"I ain't going to be nobody's fool."

"You're not," she said.

Oldham had a vested interest in the future of their relationship. To his mind, the better the relationship was, the more likely he would be able to convince Galpine to cooperate and betray his promise to Kaplan in order to be with Ramirez.

"Here we are arguing again," the conversation drearily continued. "I love you but I'm willing to give that up if you don't want this. That's the signals I'm getting. You do nothing for me."

"I know I do nothing for you," Ramirez said. "That doesn't mean I don't love you, Tommy."

"We have no communication," Galpine said, sighing. "We're drifting apart. Put yourself in my position -- I put myself in your position. I know your life is no bowl of fucking cherries. I keep calling you and you're never home. I got to line up for half an hour, forty-five minutes to get a phone and you're not there. It's four below fucking zero out here. I don't even want to speak to nobody else out there. I called all my family. I wished them merry Christmas."

"I got two calls for me the other day. I don't know who it is that's trying to call me."

It had been Oldham calling her.

"That's how much I love you," he said, "if you want your freedom you can have it."

"I could have been doing anything I wanted all this time. I don't want to do nothing."

"I'm a person of my word," Galpine said. "I want you to show me that. If I say I'm going to do something, I do that and that's what I want you to do. Or at least try. No more one-sided shit. I'm willing to end it if you want to end it."

Dismayed, Oldham didn't see Galpine's chances of cooperating improving. Listening to Galpine and Ramirez was excruciatingly dull. The same arguments were repeated ad nauseam. "Listening to prison phone conversations should be required as punishment for every juvenile delinquent in the country. If you ever want to know how important it is to stay out of prison, listen to the telephone conversations of prisoners. They are exercises in emptiness."

Next Oldham ordered the prison tapes for Burton Kaplan. Oldham also listened to many calls Kaplan made from Allenwood, some to his wife, Eleanor, and others to his girlfriend, Diane Pippa, who lived in Las Vegas. Kaplan's calls were in stark contrast to Galpine's. Galpine was catatonic but Kaplan still had vigor in his voice. When Kaplan spoke with Pippa, his voice was filled with nostalgia. They laughed, recalling meeting at airports, drinking together, pouring each other back onto the airplane to return to their everyday lives.

"I never was a partier," Kaplan said on one tape. ''I'm certainly not partying now." He sighed. "I wasted a lot of time. Time will tell what happens. I don't want to be sad. It's a sign of weakness."

There was a series of clicks on the phone.

"It might be someone at my end," Pippa said.

"They could be listening over here," Kaplan said.

And they were. "I was listening," Oldham said. "For weeks and months and in the end years I listened to Kaplan and Galpine. I didn't listen to every conversation and I didn't listen to every tape. I've never been methodical in that way. I'm an impressionist. I wanted to create a rift between the two. I was going to play Kaplan's tape to Galpine to show him Burt wasn't suffering financially the way Tommy was. Burt was taking care of his loved ones."

The next interesting tape Oldham reviewed was a call from Kaplan to Michael Gordon apologizing for the late hour. "There's only three phones here and you got to grab them when you can because the other guys will just talk forever and you have to wait your turn."

The two old friends exchanged small talk. Pleasantries done, Kaplan turned to business. Kaplan was convinced the government was continuing to punish him for refusing to cooperate. Kaplan had no idea who Oldham was, or what Oldham had in store for him. He was paranoid that the government was intruding upon every aspect of his life, from putting him in prison for the rest of his life to even intimidating tradesmen not to work for his wife. Or so Kaplan believed. He told Gordon about a carpenter working on the renovations Kaplan was having done to his Bensonhurst home -- another indication of his continuing financial well-being. One day, suddenly and for no apparent reason, the carpenter started to "act crazy" and left the work site and never returned. A short while before, a plumber was working on one of Kaplan's bathrooms when he stopped work and refused to continue with the repairs.

"In Kaplan's mind, the government was still fucking with him," Oldham said. "He probably thought it was the FBI. Kaplan knew the feds didn't mind playing hardball. He thought people were being 'talked to' and warned to stay away from him -- and his wife. Of course, I was doing no such thing. I wasn't talking to carpenters and plumbers to get to Kaplan. I was trying to make a case. I was chasing him, in my way. But once a guy knows you're looking at him, you become the source of all evil. Kaplan's imagination was at work. Part of making a case like this was getting inside the head of your target. Kaplan was starting to see shadows. He heard bumps in the night. I was the ghost of conspiracies past. I was the man who wouldn't let him forget the winter night he drove a dead man up to Connecticut to bury him in the frozen earth. I wanted to be his subconscious -- the buried bodies, the faces and sounds that came to him in his dreams."

Listening to Kaplan and Galpine became a hobby of Oldham's. It was toilsome but also a release from the stress of work. He had not found an opening and began to think there was little chance Galpine would betray Kaplan and snitch on Caracappa and Eppolito. But he was preparing to get lucky.

"They're going after anybody who knew me through the years," Kaplan told Gordon. "They gotta be talking to Monica Galpine and all the names that she gave them."

Timelines were folding in on each other. Oldham's investigation was catching up with and overlapping the ongoing conspiracy to protect Caracappa and Eppolito. Listening to Kaplan talking about Oldham's investigation was more than an eerie irony of detective work. It gave Oldham the chance to measure if the pressure was having any effect, positive or negative, on Kaplan's resolve to remain silent.

For months, as Oldham and his now Major Case partner, Detective George Slater, listened to the tapes of Kaplan and Galpine, the pair were also consumed by an investigation of Republican fund-raisers. The case was slow going. Senior officials in the NYPD resisted Oldham's pursuit of the case. Oldham and Slater were reassigned to the chief of the Internal Affairs Division. The assignment to the IAD was supposed to be an insult to Oldham. The division was dedicated to investigating police officers. "I wasn't interested in IAD," Oldham said. "I didn't want to chase cops when I was in the Two-Eight. I didn't want to chase cops when I was in Manhattan robbery, in Queens robbery, and not now in Major Case. I fought as hard as I could. I had no interest in chasing down fellow officers -- other than Caracappa and Eppolito."

In the late nineties, as his career stalled, the prison tapes provided Oldham with a quiet comfort.


In the winter of 1999, Oldham walked by a stack of boxes in the hallway in the Organized Crime Section on the nineteenth floor of the Eastern District offices. One of the boxes said "U.S. v. Kaplan" on it. Oldham was intrigued. A prosecutor he had known for years from around law enforcement circles, Judy Lieb, was leaving the Eastern District to become a state judge in the Bronx. Her boxes were being sent to storage. Oldham wanted to make sure the boxes weren't shipped into the maw of the federal government's bureaucracy. "Boxes were sent to the National Archives in Missouri never to be seen again. Grabbing boxes meant that they wouldn't disappear into an abyss. I was a pack rat for documents that related to cases I was interested in. People were always coming up to me and asking if I had old homicide files or immigration folders related to a case they were working on and often I did. If I knew stuff was going to get lost -- like the Kaplan boxes -- I figured it was better to keep them around. I had my own archive. I had a collection of crime scene photos, raps, surveillances. I had been walking through precinct basements for twenty years collecting documents on guys I was interested in, or thought I might be interested in. I had a Chinese section, a Rap section, a Mob section, psychos. You never knew when an old file might turn into a new case."

Oldham began circling past Lieb's office hoping to run into her. Finally, on the Friday she was leaving the office, Oldham caught up with her and asked about her boxes. "A couple of them are from the Kaplan case," Lieb said.

"Can I have them?" Oldham asked.

"Sure," she said, "they're just going to archives. There's a memo in there from Jamie. Take a look at it."

Oldham did. He took the boxes up to the closet office on the nineteenth floor he kept at the Eastern District. The memo from Jamie Orenstein sat in the box on top of a pile of manila folders. It was titled "the crystal balls." In another box Oldham found a thick black binder. Inside was a 504-page document recording the debriefings of Anthony Casso. The document was a clean copy.

"I spent the next two days and nights reading and rereading Casso's 302s," Oldham recalled. "The 302s were bewildering in many ways. They bounced around in chronology. When I do a debriefing I start at the beginning and proceed chronologically. But Casso's story was all over the map. The crimes he committed and admitted were voluminous. But the telling of the tale was disorienting. I loved reading NYPD OC murder files because there was usually some life to the story. I had read plenty of FBI 302s over the years. But Casso was forthcoming in an unusually detailed way. Casso clearly didn't want to get in trouble for holding anything back. To the contrary. He was meticulously forthcoming.

"I knew Eppolito was the guy when I found the owners of New China Inn and they told me about 'Rouie Epporito,' " Oldham recalled. "When I found out Steve lived across the street from Louie in Las Vegas I knew I was onto something. When I read Casso's 302s I knew Caracappa and Eppolito were guilty. I just couldn't prove it -- and it was driving me crazy."

On February 16, 1999, Oldham drove by a building on Vanderbilt Avenue in Brooklyn. A three-story tenement with a liquor store on the ground floor, it was the building where Kaplan had grown up, and was still owned by his mother and brother. Oldham knew Kaplan's brother ran the store. He'd found the place after listening to Kaplan's prison tapes and running searches for Kaplan's assets and past addresses. At the time the neighborhood was in a bad state, with a few bodegas open at night and clusters of young men drinking beer on stoops. The fluorescent sign in front flickered with a slogan: Taste the Excitement.

Oldham pulled over. He got out and stood in front of the store. It was in sorry condition, a run-down stop for drunks looking for the cheapest alcohol available. Bulletproof glass protected the man sitting at the cash register. He was in his fifties, unshaven, overweight, bald. It was surely Kaplan's younger brother Howard. Oldham waited outside while the sole customer paid and left. There was a Puerto Rican employee, with tattoos, a ponytail, and the manner of a former tough guy, who was stocking the shelves with jugs of cheap red wine. Oldham went in and a bell attached to the door chimed to announce his arrival.

"Is Burt around?" Oldham asked Kaplan's brother.

"Who's asking?" Kaplan's brother said.

Oldham pulled out his detective's shield and flashed it -- long enough for its authenticity to be registered, but too fast for the man to catch Oldham's badge number. There were slits in the bulletproof window for customers to talk through. Oldham leaned forward.

"Maybe you and I could talk about Burt a little bit," Oldham said. "Maybe you and I could figure a way to try to help him. Let's go outside and talk privately."

The Puerto Rican put down the jug of wine he was shelving. The place was silent, the only sound a transistor radio playing "Oye Como Va."

The younger Kaplan made it abundantly clear that he had no intention of talking to a cop.

"You don't have to be afraid," Oldham said. "I won't hurt a hair on your head. We'll just talk."

"Why don't you go on and get the fuck out of here before I call the real cops," Kaplan's brother said.

Oldham stood back from the Plexiglas. He looked at the fat bald man. Anger rose, frustration. Oldham banged on the Plexiglas with his fist. "C'mon big boy," Oldham said. "Let's have a little heart-to-heart."

"That's it, I'm calling the real cops," Kaplan's brother said.

"I watched him dial 911," Oldham recalled. "I thought about the fact that I didn't have an authorized case against Burt Kaplan. The idiot was calling 911 and soon police sirens would start wailing. If I stuck around I would have a hard time explaining what I was doing there. I couldn't say I was investigating two retired detectives who might have been hit men for the mafia. I listened to Kaplan's brother give a description to dispatch. 'White male, five eleven,' he said, 'wearing a brown leather jacket and blue jeans.' He was talking about me. I decided retreat was in order. I waved goodbye, promising to be back, and I walked slowly to my car parked around the corner. As I got in the car I heard the yelps of oncoming sirens in the distance. As I pulled onto Atlantic Avenue, I watched a radio car whip by. The case was getting personal. I needed to pull back or I was going to get myself in trouble."

But Oldham didn't stop. He would have to be discreet and develop a strategy. The priority was gaining the confidence of the organized crime community. As the tapes continued to arrive, Oldham heard Galpine start to express the desire to move to a prairie state, someplace far from the scheming of Burton Kaplan and organized crime. Nebraska, Kansas, Wisconsin, anywhere but Brooklyn and the life of a gangster. Galpine had more than 180 months to serve, more than five thousand days of a life slowly wasting away.

"Long periods in prison have a dull and predictable dramatic arc to them," Oldham knew. "Convicts start out defiant. Then there's denial. After a couple of years the hopelessness of it all settles in. Maintaining a brave face is one thing. Being tough is one thing. Tearing up entire chapters of your life is another. The way to get to Galpine wasn't Inez Ramirez. I knew that Galpine would always follow Burt Kaplan. He was in truth Kaplan's 'butt boy." But I heard in Galpine another kind of opportunity, perhaps an opening. It was a matter of waiting for Galpine's despair to ripen. When he was ready to rat, I was going to be ready."

A few months later, in March 1999, Oldham got another small insight. This time it came from the redoubtable Burt Kaplan. Kaplan was able to take care of his wife financially, but matters were more complex when it came to providing for his girlfriend, Diane Pippa. In order to help Pippa he had to figure a way of getting her money without his wife finding out. Kaplan had spent a lifetime assisting people in need, a form of insurance against the day he might need help. But with Kaplan behind bars, effectively serving a life sentence, it was far more difficult for him to call upon friends and associates for assistance. On the tape for March 11, 1999, Oldham listened as Kaplan called an associate again, this time to borrow money for his girlfriend.

They exchanged small talk. Kaplan gleefully reported that his old Luchese associate, Christy Tick Furnari, had been transferred to Allenwood with him. With some palpable discomfort, Kaplan eventually worked his way around to asking his associate to wire money to his girlfriend.

As Kaplan spoke it was apparent to Oldham that the very act of asking was galling to Kaplan. The conversation was demeaning. Kaplan had been a big-time gangster in New York City. Downtown Burt could get millions from Gaspipe Casso and the Lucheses on a handshake. The associate's reluctance to simply do as Kaplan said would never occur if Kaplan were on the outside. Pippa needed the money immediately, Kaplan explained, so it should be sent by overnight courier. The money would be returned within thirty days.

"Where's the money coming from?" Kaplan's associate asked.

"It's coming from a dear friend of mine, from my business."

"Kaplan paused for a full five seconds," Oldham remembered. "The fury traveled through the phone line like a spoken word. If and when I got in a room with Kaplan to talk about cooperation, the last thing I would do was play cute with him. Kaplan didn't want to play games, or have his word doubted. Straight shooting was what Kaplan demanded -- whether it was borrowing money, or planning to whack a guy. There was no nonsense about him when it came to business."

"I would be very, very upset if anyone refused me anything because I've done three million favors in my life," Kaplan said.

Kaplan's associate finally got the message. He quickly changed the subject, asking, "Everything else okay?"

Next, Kaplan turned to the subject of an appeal he had pending. He was hopeful the appeal would prevail. It was based on an allegation -- which he later withdrew -- that Judd Burstein and other defense attorneys had failed to vigorously present Kaplan's defense. The reason, Kaplan claimed, was that the lawyers knew the government wanted to make Kaplan pay for refusing to divulge what he knew about Casso's "cops." Everything in Kaplan's life revolved around his dealings with Caracappa and Eppolito. His refusal to flip had brought the wrath of the federal government down on him. "Kaplan was defiant and defeated. He was trapped and he knew he was trapped. The consequences of keeping his word to Caracappa and Eppolito were enormous, but Kaplan seemed resigned to his fate. The feds taking him down pushed him to be a stand-up guy -- to be a man. In private moments, the regret and sorrow could be heard in his voice."

"I knew this was coming," Kaplan said to his associate. "I knew this was going to happen. I'm ready for it. You know my head. I got a lot of hopes. I'm going to make a comeback. I'm strong."

There was something perversely admirable about Kaplan. He was in prison for the rest of his life and unhappy about his situation but he wasn't going to let it grind him down. Oldham believed it was highly unlikely he would be convinced to talk unless circumstances changed significantly. "If I was going to get Kaplan or Galpine to flip, I had to find ways to exert influence over one or the other of them. Just turning up at a prison and slamming the table and screaming and shouting wasn't going to get it done. I had to construct a new reality for them. I had to change their way of seeing themselves and their future."


"I called Kenny McCabe. I told him about the Kaplan boxes and Casso's 302s. I told him about the New China Inn and the photograph of Eppolito on the wall. Kenny told me that I should try to work from a specific case. Turned out, McCabe knew the case against Caracappa and Eppolito better than he had let on when we first met. Take one murder count, he said. He suggested I start with Jimmy Hydell. Five, six guys knew that Hydell was going to be in Dyker Heights that September afternoon in 1986."

Oldham went looking for Hydell's murder file. There was none. Hydell's body was missing, and he was presumed dead, but there was no NYPD file at all. "His mother, Betty, talked to local detectives. But she couldn't file a murder complaint and the matter didn't meet the criteria for a missing person report. Hydell was of majority age. There was no sign of foul play, other than his mother catching sight of two cops in a blue Nissan the day her son disappeared. There was no note, no body, no body parts. As far as the NYPD was concerned, Hydell could have caught a flight to Rio and started a new life."

Oldham learned that Hydell's younger brother Frank had been murdered in the spring of 1998. Frank Hydell was shot on the sidewalk outside a topless bar in Staten Island, on the orders of Colombo boss Alphonse Persico. Frank Hydell had been labeled a rat. The younger Hydell's problems had started months earlier when he called 911 to summon an ambulance for a construction foreman who had been shot in the rear during a party and was bleeding to death. The foreman had made the mistake of asking his new hire, the nephew of a wiseguy, to actually show up and work at his new construction job. The foreman was not supposed to be killed, just punished, and his unnecessary death eventually led Hydell to inform on the Colombos. It didn't take long for Persico to figure out that Hydell had flipped. When Frank Hydell was killed he was found to have a large tattoo across his back that read, "Casso is a Rat."

"I knew Casso had given an interview to 60 Minutes in 1998 to try to get back in the good graces of the government. In the interview with 60 Minutes Casso described killing Hydell. That part of the interview was excluded for some reason. I called a guy I knew over at 60 Minutes, a junior producer, and he said they didn't run the piece because they had no way of corroborating Casso's account."

Oldham compiled a list of potential witnesses. It ran to nearly one hundred people, ninety-nine of whom weren't talking.

"One day I went to my supervisor's office to talk about the case. I mentioned it once and that was enough. He didn't want to hear about it. He said the words slowly, carefully enunciating them.

"'I do not want to hear about that case ever again,'" he said. "'Understand? Nothing good will come of it.'''

"I understood. Catching Caracappa and Eppolito would bang out two old retired cops whose day had passed. But it would hurt the whole department. Certain people think cops go bad every day. This would just confirm it. The feeling I got from a lot of the guys was that the case should be allowed to die. Meanwhile, I had my boxes. I had my back burner -- in this case, it was a low and slow back burner. I needed Kaplan or Galpine. I needed a storyteller."
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Re: The Brotherhoods: The True Story of Two Cops Who Murdere

Postby admin » Wed Jun 18, 2014 2:15 am



In November 2001, Oldham retired from the NYPD. One of the leading detectives on the force, he took a job as an investigator with the Violent Criminal Enterprise and Terrorism Section of the Federal Eastern District -- a position specifically created for him in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Oldham had worked out of the Eastern District for years, while still attached to and paid by the NYPD, but now the relationship was official. "It was the perfect scenario for me. Most retired cops end up doing security work. It was a real job, with real investigative responsibility, a continuation of my work at Major Case. If anything the scope and sweep of my job was greater. I had autonomy and I had access to the resources to pursue cases I thought were important.

"Things were great. Andrea and I had our first child, a beautiful girl named Olivia Grace. But drinking was really becoming a problem. Alcohol numbed me. A lot of cops self-medicated. Over the years the bad memories agglomerate. The loss of two brothers never left me. Pretending not to care about what you were doing -- the victims, the violence, your own health and sanity -- is one of the many ways many cops act tough. I was no exception to that rule. Heroic drinking was part of the culture. When cops retire, when we lose the demands and bonds of our brotherhood, we lose the basic structure of our lives."

Working for the Eastern District provided Oldham with the opportunity to begin in a new direction. He arrived at his new job with a dozen cardboard boxes. They were his files from half a dozen cases. The array of investigations Oldham had on his mind reflected the range of his interests -- they were the cases he was "looking at," the cases he couldn't let go. One investigation involved a series of suspicious deaths in the Guyanese immigrant community in New York that had drawn the attention of life insurance companies, who had turned to law enforcement. Oldham had taken it upon himself to discover if there was an insurance broker selling policies and then murdering the beneficiaries to collect the hefty proceeds. In another ongoing case, an Egyptian national named Mohammed Khalil was posing as an FBI agent in order to kidnap Arab immigrants. Oldham was also looking for Vere "Joker" Padmore, a twenty-eight-year-old armed robber working with two corrupt cops in the 77th Precinct in Brooklyn who dressed in gawdy women's clothing as a disguise. The Joker was wanted for three homicides and a string of jewelry store heists and home invasions.

Upon his arrival at the Eastern District, Oldham was also tasked with the Arab interview program in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center towers. "I was given a list with hundreds of names from so-called 'target countries' by the Department of Justice in D.C.," Oldham recalled. "The information came from the worst database imaginable. Many of the people on the list hadn't lived in America for years. Others were dead. The government had no clue how to investigate supposed 'terrorists.' Most of the people I interviewed on the list were Coptic Christians who had been driven out of their homelands because of their Christian beliefs."

Now assigned an office with a window on the eighteenth floor, Oldham moved the "back burner" boxes from the closet he had maintained one floor up. One box relating to Caracappa and Eppolito was on top of his filing cabinet. Another was under his desk. Free from the strictures of the NYPD, but swamped with terrorism-related assignments, Oldham promised himself that as soon as he could spare the time he would conduct a comprehensive investigation of former detectives Stephen Caracappa and Louis Eppolito. Above all others, it was the case he was determined to make. For Oldham the case itself had become a "crystal ball" -- a mysterious and mesmerizing prism-like object to be contemplated from all angles.

"I know this sounds crazy, but the thing that I discovered when I became a detective is that I had an ability to see how cases were going to turn out," Oldham recalled. "I'm not a fortune-teller, and I'm not deluded. In every other aspect in my life I am as clueless as the next guy. But when I looked at a case -- when I looked at the evidence, the witnesses, the suspects -- I could usually see how things were going to play out. It was like that with Caracappa and Eppolito. I didn't know when or how I was going to get the chance to start up on them again, but I knew it was going to happen. Stevie Aces and Rouie Epporito weren't going to go to their graves having played the entire world for suckers. Every time I collected another set of cassette tapes of Kaplan and Galpine in prison, or scavenged a Bureau of Prisons record, or ran into Kenny McCabe in the Brooklyn federal courthouse, I wasn't letting the thing die. From time to time, I tossed in a crime scene photograph, or a DD-5 I had come across, or an interesting memo. It was how I worked."


One artifact Oldham tossed into his boxes was a newspaper article that ran in Newsday in late December 2001. The report by journalist Steve Wick was headlined, "Used and Left Unprotected: 2 LI Garbage Haulers Betrayed by Detectives, FBI Mole." The story was nine thousand words long and represented an entire year of investigative journalism by Wick. "They met by the Surfside Three Motel in Howard Beach, three gangsters with something to talk over," Wick began. "Salvatore Avellino had driven into Queens from his mansion in quiet, exclusive Nissequogue. A captain and rainmaker in the multimillion-dollar enterprise called the Luchese crime family, Avellino had a proposal to talk over with his bosses, Anthony Casso and Vic Amuso. He wanted a man murdered."

Two men, as it turned out. Wick's feature story detailed the conspiracy to kill two Long Island businessmen who ran a small garbage hauling company. For most of the 1980s, Robert Kubecka and Donald Barstow had resisted pressures from the mob and cooperated with law enforcement. The men had been harassed, threatened, and intimidated by an organization called Private Sanitation Industry Inc. of Nassau and Suffolk Counties, a Luchese- and Gambino-controlled cartel running trash collection on Long Island. Kubecka, forty, and Barstow, thirty-five, both had families, and both of their wives had been threatened and their children followed home from school. The intelligence they had provided law enforcement proved invaluable. The pair had suggested to organized crime investigators that they place a bug in Avellino's black Jaguar. Sal Avellino often drove Luchese boss Tony Ducks Corallo on his errands. During the car rides, Corallo had given Avellino a sophisticated account of the operations of the "commission," which oversaw the five New York crime families. The information obtained through the bug was put before the jury in the Commission Case in 1985, leading to Corallo and other mob leaders receiving one-hundred-year sentences and subsequently dying behind bars.

"I knew the Kubecka and Barstow murders," Oldham recalled. "It stood as a black mark against law enforcement. There was no way the state task force should have put two businessmen in a position where they were acting as informants in an ongoing investigation of known killers. In the Born to Kill case I put a kid named Tinh on the street as an active cooperator. But Tinh was a member of the gang. He was a criminal. He knew when to ask questions and when to shut up. The task force told Kubecka and Barstow they had a network of informants feeding them intelligence on the mob in the garbage business -- parallel informants who would know if their lives were in danger. But there were no other informants. They said they would protect their identities, but they didn't. They promised protection, but they couldn't provide it."

Barstow and Kubecka had no way of knowing how much peril they were in. The men were trying to balance outward defiance of the mob and secret cooperation with the government. At the time law enforcement was gaining experience in setting up dummy companies to operate in corrupt industries. Operations were established in the garment and carting industries using undercover detectives and federal agents posing as businessmen. The ruses were expensive and time-consuming but it was a necessary precaution to employ trained undercovers. Oldham said, "Kubecka and Barstow were amateurs. They must have known they were taking a risk but they couldn't give informed consent because they didn't know the way information circulated in the organized crime universe -- cops and robbers. The result was inevitable, with Amuso and Casso in charge of the Luchese family and able to access sensitive law enforcement information."

In the summer of 1989 Barstow and Kubecka testified before a grand jury about the methods the mafia used to control the garbage industry: rate-rigging, dividing territory, destroying competition. On September 9, 1989, Kubecka received a threatening call. Kubecka contacted the head of the New York State Organized Crime Task Force. The official told him to call 911. Kubecka called 911. A patrolman came to speak to the two men and took Kubecka's complaint but no other steps were taken to protect the men. At dawn the next day, two gunmen appeared on Kubecka and Barstow's lot in East Northport. Frankie "Pearl" Federico and another Luchese hit man had been given the contract to kill Kubecka and his father. The hit man entered the office shooting and struck Barstow. Barstow dropped dead. The hit man fired again. Kubecka was shot but still alive.

"The hit man's gun jammed," Oldham said. "The third bullet wouldn't feed from the clip. He tried to jack the slide back to eject the cartridge. Hearing the commotion and voices inside the trailer Frankie Pearl came in. Kubecka lunged and butted heads with him. They wrestled on the floor leaving hair strands, blood, a gun. Finally Frankie Pearl and the other man ran for it. Kubecka crawled to the phone and called 911 again -- and gasped that he didn't know who shot him."

Wick had started reporting the story as a little-known tragedy from the war on organized crime. Two Long Island businessmen had tried to do the right thing and paid the ultimate price. But Wick discovered basic questions couldn't be answered. Why was there no security sent to Kubecka and Barstow? How did the hit men know there were no cameras or surveillance set up by law enforcement on the tiny office? Wick became obsessed with the story. The families of the two men had sued the state of New York and won a $10.8 million judgment for negligence in the late nineties. But Wick came to believe it wasn't indifference or incompetence that got Barstow and Kubecka killed. What if there was a mole who betrayed them?

After months and months of trying, Wick was finally granted an interview by Gaspipe Casso. Wick traveled to Florence, Colorado, to the super-max prison where Casso was housed. Casso told Wick about the meeting with Avellino at the Surfside Three Motel in Howard Beach. Casso told Wick that he had a high-ranking FBI mole, but that he'd never met him. Casso said he paid and communicated with the mole through Kaplan, Caracappa, and Eppolito. Casso claimed that he had told the FBI about his mole when he was debriefed in 1994, but the FBI had refused to believe him or even record the allegation in Casso's 302s.

Oldham read the Wick articles at the time, adding them to the boxes he kept on Caracappa and Eppolito. He wasn't convinced by Casso's claim about the FBI agent; even if it was plausible, someone in the NYPD was more likely. Eppolito had lived on Long Island during the eighties, so he had physical proximity, and there was no question in Oldham's mind that Eppolito was capable of committing more crimes than Casso knew about. "There was a large likelihood that Caracappa and Eppolito had more going on than just their deal with Casso and Kaplan," Oldham said. "Virtually every criminal who flipped and became an informer surprised us by revealing crimes we didn't know had been committed -- murders, assaults, extortions. It was one of the uses of RICO. Instead of attacking specific crimes, the law went after criminality. So I was open to the possibility. But by the time Wick was reporting on Barstow and Kubecka, Casso had been locked up for years. A prisoner like Casso is usually desperate for any kind of chance at improving his circumstances. While Kaplan stayed silent and did his time, Casso was like a demented canary in a cage. He sang and he sang and he sang. He would sing any song you cared to hear, if he thought it might get him a new deal with the government, or a trip to New York City to testify in court. Any relief from the tedium of twenty-three-hour- a-day lockdown. I figured Casso was yanking Wick's chain about the FBI agent."

The Newsday article circulated around law enforcement circles. Bob Creighton of the Suffolk County DA's office and a homicide detective named Eddie Sandry traveled to the various penitentiaries scattered over the country housing convicted Lucheses, as well as contacting Lucheses who were hiding in the witness security program. Following Wick's lead, they went to Florence and spoke with Casso but decided to pull the plug on Casso when he told them he'd never dealt with the FBI agent in person but always through Kaplan, Eppolito, and Caracappa.

The matter seemed to go away, but another seed had been planted in the mind of Oldham. Newsday reporter Wick recalled his intentions in writing the article and reviving attention to a crime that was drifting into the forgotten past. "I was convinced that these families were owed more than just the settlement for the negligence suit," Wick said. "I thought they should know that Barstow and Kubecka had been betrayed and by whom. I thought they deserved to know the truth. When the article came out I think it touched off a lot of dominoes."


On January 27, 2003, Frankie the Pearl Federico walked into a donut store in the Bronx. Federico was seventy-five years old. He had been on the run for more than a decade, mostly living in Italy, running from certain conviction for the murders of Kubecka and Barstow. The presence of his hair and blood at the scene of the murder of Kubecka and Barstow gave the government an ironclad case and a continuing interest in the aging gangster. But after so many years successfully eluding arrest, Federico had grown sloppy. His guard was down that day. Federico was expecting to borrow money from a mob contact. Federal agents were waiting for him inside the donut shop. Federico had been lured there with the promise of a few thousand dollars from agents posing as OC associates of Federico's -- the law enforcement equivalent of "copping a sneak."

"Frankie the Pearl was an embarrassment to us when he was on the run," Oldham said. "He evaded justice for a long time but we got him in the end. In court Federico made an awful spectacle of himself. Rather than clinging to a sliver of dignity, he made himself look not just like a killer -- but a deluded self-pitying killer. Federico's blood was all over the crime scene, but he claimed he had been framed. Federico said the FBI had tortured him when drawing blood for a DNA test by using extra-long needles and threatening to suck all the blood out of his body. Federico claimed to have great evidence that would destroy the government's case." During the trial, he compelled the government to fly Gaspipe Casso, Vie Amuso, Georgie Neck Zappola, and a bunch of other Lucheses to New York to testify. Before they took the stand, at the last moment, Federico agreed to plead guilty and take a fifteen-year sentence -- effectively life for a man his age. When the judge refused to accept the deal Frankie the Pearl collapsed and had to be carried from court. "The mob had become a cabaret, a pathetic and pale imitation of itself, with a hit man in his mid-seventies swooning for sympathy. Judge Block relented a few days later. 'You'll surely die in jail,' Block said."

The arrest and trial of Federico had, in fact, revived interest in Barstow and Kubecka once again. Like the Newsday article by Steve Wick, the case kept questions about past leaks and murdered cooperators alive in New York. Soon after Federico's capture, sometime in the spring of 2003, Oldham received a call from Bill Mueller, a senior attorney in the Eastern District. Mueller said that Federico's arrest had provoked inquiries about Barstow and Kubecka. Mueller wanted to know whether the failure of the NYPD to catch and fire Caracappa and Eppolito was possibly to blame for the deaths of Barstow and Kubecka. The intelligence Wick had gathered about Casso's connection to the double homicide and Casso's connection to Caracappa and Eppolito led to a rumor running around town that a civil lawsuit against the NYPD might be launched. The next day, an analyst in the Organized Crime Section named Joel Campanella stopped by Oldham's office. Campanella asked if he could look at Oldham's boxes on "the cops."

"They're not my guys," Oldham said. "There's another dirty cop out there on Long Island."

Oldham gave Campanella the "case file," a rudimentary summary of the case and its progress, or lack thereof. "I had read Casso's 302s," Oldham said. "I knew that the Lucheses had more than Caracappa and Eppolito inside law enforcement. Sal Avellino had 'cops' too, and Casso was paying two grand a month to those 'cops.' But I was pretty sure Avellino's 'cops' weren't my 'cops.' Likewise with the supposed FBI agent Casso had on his payroll. Casso lied about his law enforcement contacts when he talked to other wiseguys to protect his real source -- Caracappa and Eppolito. Casso said so himself in the 302s. In 1991 Casso said he'd once told Sammy the Bull Gravano he had an FBI agent to throw him off the scent."

Campanella returned the next day. Oldham was right, Campanella said. It appeared the Barstow and Kubecka case had nothing to do with Caracappa and Eppolito. But Oldham's curiosity was piqued. Walking down the hallway in the Eastern District soon after, Oldham ran into prosecutor Mark Feldman. Feldman was now the head of the Organized Crime Section. He was an institution in the OC industry. Before he started working for the federal government, for many years he was an assistant district attorney -- ADA -- in Brooklyn. Feldman had been prosecuting mob cases in New York City for decades. He was large and bespectacled and generally personable. He had married a police officer and committed his life to fighting the war against the mafia. Cops and wiseguys, reporters, judges, stenographers, court security guards, all knew Feldman. Including former Detectives Caracappa and Eppolito. In Mafia Cop, in his Author's Note, Eppolito's co-author journalist Bob Drury had thanked Feldman for his assistance with the book. In the book, Eppolito described Feldman as "one tough Jew."

"From virtually every angle, over two decades and including dozens of characters in the mafia and law enforcement, Feldman was woven into the fabric of this case. As a young assistant district attorney, he had been assigned to the Brooklyn Rackets Bureau as the 'riding' attorney for mob murders. The job required him to go to the scenes of crimes and begin to build a case for trial alongside detectives working the investigation. The assignment was bloody and boring, a task given to junior lawyers. As a riding attorney, Feldman had been sent to the scene of the homicide of Eppolito's uncle Jimmy the Clam and cousin Jim-Jim. In the late eighties Feldman had been the prosecutor assigned to try the attempted murder case against a thug named Nicky Guido, when Casso had taken the stand and taken the Fifth Amendment to every question. Everyone of our generation in law enforcement in New York knew about Caracappa and Eppolito, but I knew about Feldman's deep personal connections and I figured he might be interested in taking up the seemingly lost cause.

"Feldman told me that another detective had been talking to him about Caracappa and Eppolito," Oldham said. "I was surprised but not shocked. Caracappa and Eppolito were infamous -- the greatest cold case of our time. It made sense that another detective was thinking about Caracappa and Eppolito, or had stumbled into a lead. I was the keeper of the boxes -- and the flame -- but I knew there were veteran cops out there who would love to take a shot at Caracappa and Eppolito. Feldman said the detective's name was Tommy Dades. I had heard of him. Dades was well known in the NYPD. He was said to be a great street detective and an expert on Brooklyn Oc. I called him that day and invited him to stop by and say hello."


The next day, Detective Tommy Dades turned up at Oldham's office with another NYPD detective named Jimmy Harkins -- one of Oldham's favorite cops on the force. Harkins introduced Dades to Oldham -- Harkins calling Oldham the "wild man" of Major Case. Tommy Dades was nearly a decade younger than Oldham, a former prize fighter with his nose flattened from years in the boxing ring, and his accent and attitude the pure "dems," "des," and "dos" of Sunset Park, Brooklyn. A twentyyear veteran, Dades had served in the Six-Eight in Brooklyn before being assigned to the Investigative Squad of the Intelligence Division. Dades specialized in the mafia and had developed a deep understanding of its culture, along with a string of great stories. Over the years, Dades's tales had been frequently chronicled by Daily News reporter Michelle McPhee and then turned into her book Mob Over Miami. "Tommy had chased a wanted gangster through St. Ann's Church on Staten Island," Oldham recalled. "A dopey wiseguy named Ronald Moran had sent Tommy a letter threatening to machine-gun his house, killing him and his family -- but the half-wit licked the envelope, leaving his DNA behind. Being energetic in the law enforcement business is half the battle, and Tommy was clearly filled with energy. He was about to retire from the NYPD but looking for a way to stay in the game. Tommy was my kind of cop. Both of us were dying to start up an investigation on Caracappa and Eppolito."

Oldham told Dades he had accumulated boxes filled with evidence on Caracappa and Eppolito over the years. He told Dades the story about Monica Galpine, the Chinese restaurant, and "Rouie Epporito." Oldham was certain that Caracappa and Eppolito were guilty; the problem was figuring out how to prove it. Dades, in turn, shared his story about "the cops." Dades had no in-depth knowledge of the underlying facts. He had not read Casso's 302s, or reviewed the scores of DD-Ss from the murder files, as Oldham had. But Dades had a lead he called the "golden nugget." Like Oldham, he was convinced the case against Caracappa and Eppolito needed to be reopened and properly investigated. Not by the FBI, who had proven themselves incapable of closing the case. This time, the case needed to be taken up by detectives who knew the NYPD precinct houses, computer systems, and culture. Caracappa and Eppolito needed to be investigated by their fellow detectives -- the men they had betrayed in the first place.

Dades told Oldham the tale of the "golden nugget." Dades said he had gone to see a Staten Island woman named Betty Hydell a few months earlier. She'd been devastated by the loss of her son Jimmy in 1986, only to lose her other son, Frankie, a young hood who had also been an informant working for the FBI and Dades twelve years later in 1998. Dades told Oldham how when Frankie Hydell was found dead, in front of a Staten Island strip club with three slugs in his head and chest, his entire back was covered with a huge tattoo saying, "Casso is a Rat." Years had passed, but Frankie Hydell had stayed on Dades's mind and nagged his conscience. Dades felt that Frankie Hydell had been killed because he was a cooperator and that somehow word had leaked to the mob. From time to time, Dades went to see Betty Hydell to talk about Frankie. Dades had developed the habit of dropping in on his sources, victims, and families, for a cup of coffee and a chat. The visits were useful for gathering intelligence. Betty Hydell, a sixty-five-year-old lifelong nurse with the appearance of a woman who had known the great grief of losing two sons to murder, was one of Dades's regular stops.

"This time, Tommy said Betty Hydell was more interested in talking about her other son -- Jimmy Hydell. She started out slowly, Tommy said. The day Jimmy Hydell disappeared she said she had seen two 'cops' circling the block outside their house. She said they were driving an unmarked vehicle, of the kind NYPD detectives routinely use. One cop was thin, she said, and the other was fat with a thick mustache. That was in 1986. Six years later, Betty Hydell told Dades she was watching the Sally Jessy Raphael Show and on came a retired NYPD detective talking about his new book, Mafia Cop. Betty Hydell bolted up from her chair. It was the cop she had seen the day Jimmy vanished. She went out and bought the book that day, she told Tommy. She opened the book to the photographs in the middle and was instantly convinced that the author was the same man.

"Dades thought it was a 'gotcha' moment, but in my view, it was pretty thin evidence," Oldham recalled. "She saw him on television and didn't report it for more than a decade? She had seen two cops acting suspiciously outside her house the day her son vanished forever and she didn't report it? From what distance? What was her sight line? Defense attorneys would have a field day with the testimony if that was all we had against Caracappa and Eppolito. But I loved Tommy. I loved the stories he told about the mob. I loved his enthusiasm. It was important to harness the ripples that were out there and turn them into a wave. It was like the butterfly effect. A small thing like Betty Hydell's accusation, of marginal use in a trial, could start a chain of events and have a big effect in the future. The sine qua non was flipping Kaplan or Galpine, but this could be the break I had been waiting for.

"Re-creating the timeline to be accurate and sure about what kickstarted the investigation of Caracappa and Eppolito is impossible. I was always looking at the case. Tommy Dades had the wits to act on what he had from Betty Hydell and go to Mark Feldman. The stars had aligned. Call it kismet. To me, it was the kind of confluence of events that make for the best cases. I had the boxes that would give us a huge head start in gathering materials. Tommy had the 'golden nugget.' The bosses in the Eastern District and the Brooklyn DA's office were getting serious about Caracappa and Eppolito. Resources would be applied to undertake a real investigation. I could get the manpower to build a real prosecution. If I didn't jump at the opportunity, I knew it was never coming around again. I would do whatever I could to be accommodating, come what may. I could hardly believe what was happening. Finally, at long, long last, we were going to make the case."


Within days, Oldham stopped by the office of a young prosecutor named Robert Henoch. Oldham often dropped in on Henoch, ostensibly just to talk but in truth to see what he was working on and keep alive the chance of using Henoch on one of his cases. It was Oldham's manner to come at the actual subject of conversation obliquely. He would talk for a time about nothing in particular. Cutting to the chase was not Oldham's style. He liked to take the temperature of his interlocutor and measure mood. This day Oldham was carrying a hardback copy of a book. He dropped Mafia Cop on Henoch's desk. "I have a great case for you," Oldham said. "You're not going to believe this case. It's about cops and I know you love cops. I'm doing this one. I've been waiting to do this one for fucking years."

Henoch picked up the book and glanced at the cover. Oldham's copy of Mafia Cop was tattered, the jacket torn at the edges, the pages dogeared with scrawls in the margins.

"Read the book," Oldham. "You're not going to believe it."

As the lead investigator inside the Eastern District working the Caracappa and Eppolito case, Oldham had some influence in choosing an attorney to prosecute his cases. There were dozens of bright young lawyers in the office, many of whom would leap at the chance to embark on a case as difficult and ambitious as Caracappa and Eppolito promised to be. Over the years, Oldham kept a close eye on prosecutors as they arrived in the Eastern District. He was watching for new talent and keeping track of the stable of potential collaborators. Oldham knew he had to be particularly careful with his selection in this case. The demands placed upon the attorney would be prodigious. There were major political and jurisdictional issues to be considered. The Brooklyn DA's office was going to be involved in the case. Oldham needed an attorney tough enough to stand up to the DA's office, but smart enough to know how to avoid conflict.

As with virtually all of Oldham's partners over the years, Henoch's best qualities were diametrically opposed to Oldham's. Henoch was in his early forties, thin, fit, disciplined, focused. Henoch had been born in Los Angeles and raised in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. He studied Soviet history at the University of Michigan and belonged to the ROTC. His father had been a World War II infantryman who became a nuclear physicist working on arms control. After graduation, Henoch was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army. As an artillery officer, Henoch was taught to rain down shells on distant targets, a skill set that would prove useful as a prosecutor planning long-term RICO cases. "I knew Bob had been an assistant district attorney in Manhattan before he took a job with the Eastern District," Oldham said. "It was the prosecutor's equivalent of having been a cop. Henoch had tried dozens of cases. He knew the state system -- not just the halls of justice, but the dark alleys where detectives and street cops operate. He had been forced to make big decisions involving real lives in real time. Henoch was a colonel in the Army Reserve. Logistics were his speciality. He was crisp, precise, disciplined, all the things I decidedly am not. With the case going to the Brooklyn DA, I figured the guys in the Brooklyn DA's office would trust him. I trusted him."

Reading Mafia Cop repulsed Henoch. Over the years, Henoch had worked with many cops but he had never come across a cop who matched Eppolito's perverted portrait of life in law enforcement. Henoch still wasn't certain he wanted to throw himself at such a problematic case. Henoch had good reason to hesitate. Oldham was known as a loose cannon around the office. He was beyond control -- beyond the control of the bosses, the rules and regulations. Working with him was known to be taking a trip into the old-school ways of NYPD detectives, for good and for bad. As delicate negotiations between the Eastern District and the Brooklyn DA began, Oldham continued to talk to Henoch about Caracappa and Eppolito and Mafia Cop.

"You can do it," Oldham said to Henoch. "This case can be made."

The look in Oldham's eye was childlike, it seemed to Henoch. He was sold. Oldham had his attorney. The choice was superb -- but Henoch wasn't going to play second fiddle to Oldham. He was a decade younger, and vastly less experienced, but Henoch had an ego to match Oldham's. Henoch was a control freak. He was detail-oriented. As soon as Henoch touched a case he wanted power over all aspects of it. Over the years Oldham had been able to set the agenda and maintain control in his investigations. As much as the men needed each other, they were fated to clash -- but not yet.

Before the investigation could begin in earnest, a decision had to be made about which jurisdiction would lead the investigation and ultimately try the two men -- the Brooklyn DA or the Eastern District? Would the case be federal or state? There were a multitude of reasons to prefer a federal case to a straight state homicide case. Associative evidence and prior bad acts were admissible in a federal case. Testimony by an accomplice had to be corroborated by independent evidence under state law. There was no such requirement under federal law. RICO allows the government to put an accomplice on the stand regardless of corroboration. Thus, if Kaplan or Galpine were convinced to become a cooperator, he could testify to the entirety of the conspiracy in federal court, but only to a very limited extent in state court. In state court, there would only be fragments, which could confuse or fail to convince a jury. Under RICO, the story would be told in full.

But there was a major stumbling block. According to RICO, a federal prosecution had to be brought within five years of the cessation or fulfillment of the conspiracy. Under state law, there was no time limit on murder prosecutions. From their first conversation onward, Oldham and Henoch had discussed the time limit issue as an impediment. Oldham believed there were arguments to overcome the statute of limitations issue. Oldham was not a lawyer but that had never stopped him from making legal arguments. The truth, he believed, was that no jury would acquit Caracappa and Eppolito once it learned of the nature of their criminal enterprise. The statute of limitations might give the two retired officers technical grounds to avoid conviction, but that was not how the real world functioned.

"I knew Caracappa and Eppolito weren't going to get off because they moved to Las Vegas and too much time had passed. It wasn't going to fly. The court would find a way to do the right thing. It was a stupid law. There was no jury in the land that would let the murdering former NYPD detectives go free after getting the wrong Nicky Guido killed because they had holed up in a cul-de-sac in Vegas."

Additionally, according to RICO, it was possible for the two former NYPD detectives to offer the defense that they had "withdrawn" from their conspiracy. The difficulty, for Caracappa and Eppolito, was that the burden of proof fell on them. Oldham and Henoch didn't think Caracappa and Eppolito could prove that they had "withdrawn" from their criminal enterprise. Caracappa and Eppolito would almost certainly outright deny any involvement whatsoever with organized crime. "It was a catch-22," Oldham recalled. "To assert the defense that they had absented themselves from the Lucheses would require them to admit that they were members of a conspiracy in the first place. If that was going to be the defense offered by the two former NYPD detectives, the prosecution would be in excellent shape."

Feldman disagreed with Oldham on the issue of the statute of limitations. The crimes committed by Caracappa and Eppolito began in the mid-eighties. The last crime known to be committed was the murder of Eddie Lino in 1990. Both had left the NYPD by 1992. Saying the conspiracy lasted all the way to 2004 strained credulity. Such disputes were common in the competitive bristle of OC prosecutions. Feldman was a lawyer with a distinguished record. Oldham was a cop turned federal investigator. There should have been no room for dispute but Oldham was a determined infighter. Each man turned to the best legal minds in their section of the Eastern District for an expert opinion on the matter. Feldman had legal advisors in the Organized Crime Section. Oldham had access to legal eagles in the Violent Criminal Enterprise and Terrorism Section. The opinions came back with opposite answers. Feldman's lawyer said the time limitation on homicides meant it was too late for a federal RICO case; Oldham's lawyer said the time limit didn't rule out RICO charges. Oldham and Henoch wanted to do the case in the Eastern District. Feldman was more cautiously inclined. The risk was investing the man hours of an attorney and investigators, only to have the case fall apart or be dismissed by a federal judge because of the statute of limitations issue.

Feldman had the ultimate say. The case might still wind up under federal control, but for the time being it would be a collaboration with the Brooklyn DA's office. However the investigation played out, it was best to work the case as a team effort. In any cold case murder prosecution, access to the materials held by state and city officials is critical. The Eastern District could subpoena the documents, but it was easier and more efficient to cooperate. Keeping the Brooklyn DA on their side could only help. Oldham accepted the decision in an effort to steer any course that would finally get a prosecution mounted.
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