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

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



The first meeting of the investigators and lawyers who would pursue Caracappa and Eppolito was held in the offices of the Brooklyn DA. Oldham took along Special Agent Eugene Kizenko, a young Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigator who had been working with him on the Guyana life insurance murder case. Oldham wanted a witness to the proceedings. If promises were made, or undertakings given, Oldham didn't want to be the only one in the room who was an outsider. "Gene always told the truth," Oldham said. "It wasn't exactly enemy territory, but I figured it could be a minefield. I wanted someone I could count on."

A round of introductions was made. The Brooklyn DA team consisted of men who collectively had many decades' worth of mob experience. "It was like a mobster meeting. They were all Italian, slick in their suits. They were calling the meeting a sit-down, like they were capos and dons. Which was kind of true -- they were the leaders on the side of the law, the functional equivalents of mob bosses and underbosses and captains." The "cadre" was how Oldham thought of the team. They were a motley collection of law enforcement officials in middle or late middle age, most of them retired and playing out the string at desk jobs. It was like the Clint Eastwood movie Space Cowboys, Oldham thought, conjuring the band of aging astronauts who came out of retirement to solve a problem that had eluded everyone else and called upon their guile and experience.

Oldham discovered that everyone in the room, except for Kizenko, had a personal connection to the case. Bobby Intartaglio, or "Bobby I." as he was known, had been assigned to the Staten Island District Attorney's Office for much of the 1980s. He had worked the Bypass burglary gang. He had been involved in the electronic and physical surveillance of Burt Kaplan's warehouse. Intartaglio also had been involved in the Dominic Costa case. He was the same age as the others: fifties and holding on. "'The old man' was how he referred to himself. In the third person. He would say, 'the old man's feeling good today,' or 'the old man's losing his marbles.' I liked him fine. He was stalwart, it seemed to me, the kind of detective who could be relied upon to keep confidences. He had lived through the era of leaks. He knew what it was like to feel that the mafia was a step ahead of us, and that there was nothing we could do to catch our rat."

Doug LeVien was a veteran NYPD detective who had gone undercover in the seventies, pretending to be a Luchese associate, but was now jockeying a desk in the Brooklyn DA's office. In 1990, when Eddie Lino was shot on the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn, LeVien had become convinced that Lino had been murdered by a cop. The crime scene had the markings of an NYPD pullover turned into an OC hit. LeVien had a friend who worked in the Organized Crime Control Bureau at the time who told him the detectives there believed Lino was a victim of a dirty member of the NYPD. "There was an encyclopedic aspect to the gathering. Caracappa and Eppolito had woven an incredibly complicated web of lies and murder, but it seemed like the cadre covered the entirety. Detective George Terra was a veteran who had been working on the investigation into the murder of Annette DiBiasi. Terra's prime suspect was Jimmy Hydell.

"Mike Vecchione was chief of the Rackets Bureau at the Brooklyn DA's office. He was an aggressive prosecutor and a political operator. He had worked in the Brooklyn DA's homicide section and then in the appeals section, before going into private practice. Politics brought him back to public service. When his longtime colleague Charles Hynes was elected DA for King's County, Vecchione followed him. Years of suffering under the yoke of 'the feds' had made many people in the DA's offices deeply distrustful. Brooklyn prosecutors were foremost amongst those fed up with the feds, I thought. It wasn't enough that justice was done in New York City -- justice had to be seen to be done in the boroughs.

"From the start I knew that if the prosecution was successful there would be a brawl over credit. It was how things worked in our little world. The DA and the Eastern District had a long history of animosity. There were the dynamics between the NYPD and the FBI -- which was why I was determined to keep the Bureau out. On top of that, there was the reality of life as a cop or mob prosecutor. Money was tight. Years went by before you got a shot at a major case -- and this was going to be major, if it came off right. There weren't a lot of rewards out there for folks like us. Recognition from your fellow cops was one of the ways we measure success. Careers are made and reputations and legends established by the cases you work."

Chief Investigator Joe Ponzi seemed different to Oldham. "Ponzi was sharp, in every sense of the word. It was evident the work gave him satisfaction. His old man was a legend in the NYPD. Emidio 'Larry' Ponzi had formed the Senior Citizens Robbery Squad -- one of the many things Eppolito falsely took credit for. The older Ponzi had been Louie's commanding officer. In his Author Note in Mafia Cop, Eppolito recognized Joe's father. 'To Sergeant Larry Ponzi, who taught me how to be a detective, I send my respect.' I figured that line had to give Joe an extra incentive to see that Eppolito was brought to justice.

"Apart from Gene and I, everyone else in the room was attached to the Brooklyn DA and seemed highly suspicious of me. I was one of them -- an NYPD detective. But I was also a representative of the Eastern District so I was half a fed -- and the feds are always screwing the state. I knew that. I told them I wasn't going to fuck them on this. I didn't say you're not going to get fucked because we all knew there was a good chance they would get fucked. I told them, 'I'm going to give you everything I have. I'm not going to play games and hold things back.'''

Oldham told the cadre what he had collected over the years as evidence. "I had tapes of Tommy Galpine and Burton Kaplan's prison telephone calls. I had Steve and Louis's personnel files and their arrest printouts. I had a folder with Bureau of Criminal Investigation computer printouts run by Caracappa. I had Kaplan's phone book, with its squiggles and rubbed-out numbers -- I was sure the numbers for Caracappa and Eppolito were in there somewhere. There were also mortgage applications, car registrations, old phone work, documents I knew I couldn't replicate later. There were quite a few pen registers printouts -- they only show the numbers for outgoing calls and they look like cash register receipts. There were 911 calls and surveillance photos, though none of Steve or Louie. I explained that Internal Affairs had lost its files on Steve and Louie. As I talked, someone said that Feldman thinks that there is no way to bring a federal case because of the time limits in RICO."

"I don't give a fuck what Mark Feldman says," Oldham told the Brooklyn DA group. "I don't think we're out of statute."

The following day, Tommy Dades and Bobby Intartaglio came to Oldham's office in the Eastern District to collect the boxes. They were stacked in the corner of Oldham's office. Upstairs there were still more. A "war room" was initially set up in the DA's polygraph office. Dades and Intartaglio set about going through the materials Oldham had collected over the years to familiarize themselves with the evidence. With more than thirty boxes from the trial of Burton Kaplan in his possession, Oldham moved the "war room" from the Brooklyn DA's premises to a small windowless room on the fifth floor of the Brooklyn Union Gas building next door to the Eastern District. Henoch began to take control of the meetings, keeping track of assignments and constructing to-do lists. "The older guys were always joking about me trying to run the case like it was the Army," Henoch recalled. "It was a blast. I loved it. It was fun to work with extremely seasoned detectives. They knew their jobs. They were excited about the case. They understood the case and what I needed. The best retired detectives know the difference between knowing what's true and being able to prove it. They understand criminal minds. They understand how to get a criminal to cooperate. The retired NYPD detectives I worked with, who stayed in the law enforcement field after they left the force, taught me a lot. The motives of witnesses, how to get information without screwing up their testimony. They understand how the world works.

"Oldham was the risk taker, which was what I liked about him. He was a macro guy. He saw the big picture. He understood trial strategy. He enjoyed the back and forth of office politics and I don't, so he handled a lot of the stuff that I wasn't interested in. He knew the lay of the land within the office. He knew who to ask when you needed a favor. He understood people, even if he wasn't good at dealing with people. I was content with letting him guide relations with the Brooklyn DA. But the thing I liked about him best was that he was an outsider. I think of myself that way. He didn't care what people thought of him and I liked that. He was an independent thinker. Those are valuable commodities to bring to the table."

Constructing a timeline became a primary priority. Some dates were known, others weren't. Caracappa and Eppolito were both part of the NYPD class of 1969. They had served together in the Brooklyn Robbery Squad in the late seventies. But what about other landmarks in their NYPD careers? The murders they were involved in, tangentially and directly, were cataloged. What cases needed to be tracked down? Whom should the cadre talk to? When? What could be done without risking Steve and Louie finding out they were being investigated?

"Secrecy was all-important," Oldham said. "We didn't know how connected Caracappa and Eppolito still were. They had been in Vegas for years but that didn't mean they didn't have sources. Caracappa had been one of the most senior OC cops in the NYPD. He had resources inside the FBI, DEA, as well as precinct houses and One PP. All it took was one leak and our investigation could be blown out of the water. Henoch was haunted by images of Caracappa walking across the border of Mexico with a backpack on and disappearing forever. I considered it a real possibility, too -- and an outcome that had to be avoided at all costs."

In September 2004, Detective Tommy Dades retired from the NYPD and took a job with the Brooklyn DA. His first case was Caracappa and Eppolito. He brought Betty Hydell into a meeting of the cadre at the Brooklyn DA's offices. "Betty Hydell was Irish, square-jawed, the kind of woman who had a tough life. She was a nurse. A nice lady. I felt for her. But watching her talk to us, I was certain she wouldn't work on the stand, certainly not as the lynchpin to any case. She believed she had ID'd Eppolito, and who could blame her for wanting him brought to justice, but would a jury believe her? If the government puts on weak evidence it can cast a poor light on the entire case. If Betty Hydell was going to testify, it was going to be in a very limited manner, as background for the jury to hear from the mother of a murder victim to ground them in the reality of Caracappa and Eppolito's conspiracy.

"I was involved in the investigation, of course, but I knew what was in the boxes and I had been pursuing the case for years. The other guys needed to get up to speed. I was also working the Guyanese life insurance murder case, and it was going well. An insurance broker in Queens was selling life insurance policies to indigent and illegal Guyanese immigrants. The coverage was relatively small, for life insurance policies. The average was two hundred thousand. But the payday was huge. Some of the suspicious deaths were taking place in Guyana and so I started to travel back and forth." The investigation would later lead to murder indictments of the insurance broker and his accomplice and an upcoming trial.

Meanwhile, Tommy Dades and Bobby Intartaglio holed up in the war room and went through the documents Oldham had accumulated. Inside the box Dades found the originals of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation checks run by Detective Stephen Caracappa during his career at the NYPD that Oldham had collected. The BCI checks consisted of the names Caracappa had run through the NYPD. Department of Motor Vehicles databases were checked as well. With a BCI check, the address, date of birth, and basic physical characteristics of the person in question were listed. It is also indicated if the person had a criminal record. Detectives were supposed to get approval from their superiors to run a name. The sergeant needed to sign the form to run a check, and detectives were required periodically to provide a list of the names they had run. The NYPD did not want its officers using the database for improper or criminal purposes. Dozens of corruption cases had been brought against cops using the computer systems to trade information for money. It was one of the most common forms of corruption in the department.

"The power of the information is the ability to find people you are looking for," Oldham recalled. "The mafia thrived on that information. Locating enemies was one of the main preoccupations of wiseguys. The NYPD understood this and strictly regulated the BCL It was evident Caracappa had no regard for the rules. In the mid-eighties, while he was dating a young woman who lived in his building on East 22nd Street, Detective Caracappa ran a BCI search on 'Monica Singleton.' Caracappa had used the BCI system to run a criminal background on his girlfriend, soon to be fiancee and wife. There was no question that Caracappa was guilty of abusing his position. But to what extent? Was it just running the name of the girl he was seeing, to make sure she wasn't hiding anything from him? That was sleazy, and the product of a sly, mistrustful mind, but it wasn't a federal crime."

The evidence in Oldham's boxes was devastating to Caracappa. The BCI files that Dades dug out showed that on November 11, 1986, Caracappa had run the name "Nicky Guido" through the BCI database under a number for an unrelated investigation concerning a man named Felix Andujar. There were a number of other names in the search Caracappa had run. Guido was in the middle of the list. The Nicky Guido search was immediately understood to be hugely important. "It was exciting," Henoch recalled. "It established a direct connection between Caracappa and one of the victims. Because Nicky Guido was such a minor figure in the OC world, not under any NYPD scrutiny, it was highly suspicious that a Major Case detective who was not working on the Anthony Casso attempted murder did this. Caracappa had no business running the name of a small-time hood in November of 1986, weeks after Casso was shot. Major Case had no involvement whatsoever in the Casso shooting. Period."

But it was worse than that. Caracappa used a case number that had nothing to do with Anthony Casso. He disguised his actions by placing Guido's name in a list of other names, as if Guido were just another witness or suspect in the case in question. The final fact was the most damning. The search Caracappa had run listed a Nicholas Guido born 2/2/1960 who lived on 17th Street in Windsor Terrace. The Nicky Guido who had shot Casso lived in downtown Brooklyn. Special Agent George Hannah and Detective George Terra, who were working on the right Nicky Guido case at the time, knew who the right Nicky Guido was within days of the shooting. The mistake demonstrated that Caracappa didn't know who he was looking for. The fact that he was looking at the wrong Nicky Guido showed that Caracappa had searched an innocent man's name -- just before he was murdered.

The timing could only be explained in connection to Gaspipe Casso and his freelance "investigation" to get the men who had tried to kill him. Caracappa's run was done two months after Casso had been shot, in September 1986. Jimmy Hydell had been snatched on October 18, 1986. Casso had tortured and murdered Hydell, after acquiring the names of Hydell's conspirators -- including Nicky Guido. Caracappa ran the search on November 11, 1986. On Christmas Day 1986, six weeks later, the wrong Nicky Guido was murdered in front of his house.

The implication of the evidence was clearly promising. Yet the claim to its discovery was contested and disheartening for the cadre. Various assertions about unearthing the BCI runs circulated among detectives and lawyers on the case. Oldham said he had put the BCI run in his boxes in the mid-nineties and knew that they contained Caracappa's search of Nicky Guido. FBI agents claimed they had run the name in 1994, when Casso first flipped. Tommy Dades said he'd discovered the Nicky Guido search. "Personalities were starting to get in the way," Oldham said. "I gave Tommy the boxes to go through. Tommy found the document and recognized it for what it was. The important thing was that we had the Nicky Guido search. We weren't going to get a conviction with that alone. It was good but we had a long way to go before we could prove the guilt of Caracappa and Eppolito beyond a reasonable doubt."


Joel Campanella, the analyst with the Organized Crime Section and a veteran intelligence detective in the NYPD, was given the task of putting the FBI 302s on compact disks so members of the cadre could read the collected criminal works of Gaspipe Casso, Little Al D'Arco, Fat Pete Chiodo, and the other Luchese wiseguys who had become cooperators. "Reading the 302s left the guys in the cadre amazed," Oldham said. "Ponzi and Dades and Bobby 1. couldn't believe their eyes. They had the same response I did when I read them. There were scores of things the FBI could have checked out to corroborate Casso. It defied belief that the feds had failed to make the case against Caracappa and Eppolito. Famous But Incompetent was given an entirely new meaning."

One lead to be pursued, it seemed to Tommy Dades, was searching the house where Gaspipe Casso said he had taken Jimmy Hydell after the handoff in the parking lot at Toys CR'Us in order to interrogate and then murder him. Dades tracked down the address and obtained a search warrant. It turned out the house had just been renovated and was on the market. "I didn't see the point in it," Oldham said. "From an evidentiary angle, I didn't think there was anything to be gained. What if we found bullet slugs? Could we use that at trial? Not unless we put Gaspipe Casso on the stand and tried to establish that he was telling the truth. The same for blood traces. Hydell had disappeared in 1986. There was no body. But I was trying to be a team player. Tommy was full of energy and I didn't want to dampen his enthusiasm."

At six o'clock on a morning soon thereafter, Oldham, Dades, Intartaglio, DEA Agent Mark Manko, and a forensic team from the Chief Medical Examiner's office arrived at the house on 58th Street in Brooklyn. There was a For Sale sign on the lawn in front of the house. Knocking on the door elicited no reply. The house appeared to be empty. Oldham and Intartaglio walked two houses down the street, where the lights were on, and rang the front doorbell. An older couple answered. Oldham flashed his identification and said they were looking for the house where a kid was murdered twenty years earlier.

"The kid was killed in the basement," Oldham said. "He was a real tough kid, a gangster."

"Do you mean our son?" the mother asked. "Our son was murdered in our basement."

The woman told Oldham and Intartaglio that her son had gotten into debt with Manhattan gangsters and that they killed him.

"I'm so sorry," Oldham said. "I didn't know."

Even years after the mafia lost the war, the streets of Brooklyn contained the scars left by casualties long forgotten by society. Oldham and Intartaglio went back to the house shaking their heads at the coincidence. Dades had called the real estate agent but there was no sign of anyone turning up, so the men let themselves in by forcing the front door. The house was newly decorated in gaudy Italianate fashion, with mirrors and black tile floors and ornate chandeliers. "We went down to the basement and got to work. We broke all the tiles in the basement looking for slugs and blood," Oldham recalled. "We tore the place apart. And then the owner turned up with the real estate agent. We hadn't found a thing. I was assigned the job of keeping them from coming down into the basement and seeing what we were doing. I told them it was a police matter, that they were not to interfere until the search was complete."

Meetings of the cadre alternated between the offices of the Brooklyn DA and the Eastern District. The regulars from the Eastern District were Oldham, Henoch, and Mark Manko from the DEA. Intartaglio, Dades, and Ponzi attended from the Brooklyn side. Henoch recounted the combustive nature of the encounters. Once, during a meeting the conversation turned to a certain high-ranking NYPD officer. The officer in question was prominent in the force, and controversial. Oldham said the cop was corrupt. Intartaglio went crazy. "You can't just say that, what are you talking about?" he demanded. ''I'm telling you, he's no good," Oldham said. The pair stepped outside. They had a discussion. No blows were exchanged but it was evident that there were clashing egos and sensibilities.

Oldham and Henoch began to arrange conversations with Luchese made men who were living under assumed names in hiding. The first was Fat Pete Chiodo. Oldham, Henoch, Campanella, and Intartaglio sat in on the conference call. Chiodo was a seasoned cooperator. He didn't have to be persuaded to talk. "Chiodo said it was well known within Gas's crew that Gas had a 'crystal ball.' Chiodo said Casso called his source that because it could see the future. Chiodo told us about Tiger Management, confirming what Casso told the FBI in 1994. Chiodo knew about the intrafamily Luchese murders: Bruno Facciola, Anthony "Buddy" Luongo, Anthony DiLapi's murder in Hollywood. There was nothing new from Chiodo. He had been briefed about the 'crystal ball' years ago. But we were building a deeper understanding of the case.

"Chiodo said that Casso never told him who the source was. Casso was very elusive about it. As we spoke, Chiodo said no one called him 'fat' anymore. He had lost more than two hundred pounds. I was impressed. I thought he should write a cookbook -- Fat Pete's Gangster Diet. Chiodo liked the idea, provided he didn't blow his cover. There were plenty of people who would like to get at him."

The investigation unearthed artifacts large and small from the past. Bobby Intartaglio said they were like archaeologists. In the mid-eighties, it was discovered, Detective Eppolito had answered a newspaper advertisement looking for people who had trouble controlling their rage. The company wanted to videotape people for a series on anger management. A video from this was made in 1985, just after Eppolito had undergone suspension and trial on charges of providing NYPD intelligence to Rosario Gambino. The cadre gathered to watch the footage. Eppolito addressed the camera filled with authentic rage. "I worked my ass off, I worked my fucking ass off for the city of New York," Eppolito said. "All I got was, 'You're Italian and you had family members that were in organized crime.''' Eppolito described the scene in which he was forced to hand over his NYPD detective badge. Eppolito's fury was overflowing. "I says, 'If you keep on insisting on fucking with me, I'm going to give you such a beating that your mother's going to throw up when I show her your picture.' I says, 'I'm not fucking lying to you.' I says, 'Don't try to go at me anymore.' I says, 'Because the four guys with you, by the time they get up,' I says, 'by the time they get up I'm going to break your nose and take your teeth out in one shot.''' Eppolito paused. "And then the anger started to come."

The cadre sat in silence after the video ended. There was no question that Eppolito had displayed the kind of fury that was common in criminals -- the lethal combination of self-pity, self-justification, and violence that Fat the Gangster had bequeathed to his son.


The bickering between the Eastern District and the Brooklyn DA began to increase in the fall of 2004. Haggling over assignments and responsibilities was constant. The simple matter of where to hold meetings of the cadre became contentious. The war room was in the Brooklyn Union Gas building next to the Eastern District, but the Brooklyn DA insisted the feds walk the four blocks to their office. Henoch was tiring of the dysfunction and pettiness. He didn't want to walk to the meetings anymore. Oldham convinced him that it was better to assuage the Brooklyn DA investigators. The power plays were only a distraction, Oldham said to Henoch. It was better to be gracious and generous and hold the meetings on their home turf.

While Dades and Intartaglio concentrated on the documents, Oldham was primarily working on Burton Kaplan and Tommy Galpine. Both were federal prisoners and therefore unquestionably under the jurisdiction of the Eastern District. Getting one of the two men to agree to cooperate was without doubt the key to solving the case, Oldham and Henoch believed. The question was how to succeed where everyone else had failed. Oldham ordered the prison records for Burton Kaplan. A six-inch-thick stack of documentation arrived on Oldham's desk. It contained an accounting of Kaplan's personal possessions, including prayer oil, ten books (an unusually high number for an inmate), and dental floss. The record showed what Oldham suspected. Kaplan was tough. But he was also taking care of himself and had not given up on life.

For months, while the cadre worked their way through the boxes, Oldham tried to convince Henoch that they should consider using Gaspipe Casso as a witness against Caracappa and Eppolito. Mike Vecchione, the Brooklyn assistant DA, suggested that another way of using Casso was to charge Casso in state court with the kidnap and murder of Jimmy Hydell and make his co-accused Caracappa and Eppolito. The two former NYPD detectives would then be sitting at the defense table next to a confessed thirty-six-time murderer with the physical and mental tics that accompany solitary confinement for years on end.

"Putting Casso on the stand was preposterous. Casso's cooperation agreement with the government had been breached. Gas was considered an unreliable witness. He had conspired to murder a federal prosecutor and a federal judge. He had killed or conspired in the killing of thirty-six people. In person he managed to be even creepier. The 60 Minutes interview in 1998 was like watching a lunatic. He reveled in killing Jimmy Hydell. It would be more than a high-stakes wager -- it would be a Texas hold 'em allin bet.

"I wanted to try. The cognitive dissonance would be a reach for a jury. The cross-examination would be brutal. But it seemed to me that if there was no other choice then there was no other choice. Reading Casso's proffers was a trans formative experience. There was no question that Casso was telling the truth about Caracappa and Eppolito in 1994. The only question was the same as always. Would a jury believe Casso? To let the case go -- to let Caracappa and Eppolito skate -- was unacceptable. At least put it to a jury, I thought. Henoch was coming around to that view. He had the balls to try.

"Good detectives want to close their cases. I wasn't going to turn away from Caracappa and Eppolito, no matter the toll, personal or professional. That was my strength. It was also my weakness. We had the Nicky Guido BCI search, which wasn't nothing, but we didn't have much else. The case was a long way from made. We needed a break."
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Re: The Brotherhoods: The True Story of Two Cops Who Murdere

Postby admin » Wed Jun 18, 2014 2:17 am



On a Tuesday morning in early March 2004, Oldham plugged in a cassette tape recording of Tommy Galpine calling his girlfriend Inez Ramirez on Thanksgiving Day 1999. Oldham was driving with his newly born daughter India Pearl to pick up his three-year-old, Olivia, at her day care center. The evening before, Oldham had retrieved a handful of the Kaplan and Galpine prison phone conversation cassette tapes as part of his ritual of listening to them again. The other members of the cadre had played a few of the tapes and been exposed to the grueling experience of hearing the two jailbirds wheedle on the phone. Oldham knew listening was excruciatingly dull, but there was also the chance that he had missed something critical the first time around. He listened to the conversations at work, as he did other things, in the car, at home on the boom box he had in the kitchen. The cassette tapes he had grabbed were marked "Pertinent" or "Not Pertinent" and stored in a box in Oldham's office. Oldham had deemed Thanksgiving Day 1999 "Pertinent" for a reason he couldn't recall as he listened to Galpine and Ramirez argue.

"I was mostly concerned with flipping Tommy Galpine," Oldham said. "Everybody said Burt would never flip. People had tried for years, and everyone had failed. He had been approached by law enforcement officials from the NYPD, DEA, FBI, the United States Attorney's Office. His lawyers had been contacted. He was doing twenty-seven years the hard way, when he could have avoided a single day inside by talking. There was a chance with Galpine, I thought. Kaplan was immovable, impossible."

The Thanksgiving Day tape was a particularly dreadful example of the frustrations of the long-distance relationship. Galpine and Ramirez could only talk once a week and the calls were hardly an adequate substitute for human company. The calls weren't just exhausting to Oldham, they seemed to exhaust Ramirez and Galpine as well. So far, the calls didn't seem to bode well for Oldham's strategy.

''I'm so tired," Ramirez said on the tape.

"Every time I talk to you, you sound half dead," Galpine said. "You have nothing to say. You never have anything to say."

Shaking his head, Oldham concurred with Galpine.

"I wish you wouldn't get so upset with me," Ramirez said. "I didn't do nothing wrong."

"You didn't do nothing, period," Galpine said.

Oldham turned on to the Brooklyn Bridge with a heavy sigh. India Pearl was only five months old, an angelic blonde sleeping in the baby seat in the back. Exposing her to Galpine and Ramirez's problems was something he was sure his wife, Andrea, would not approve of. Crossing the bridge, Oldham noticed an exchange he had not heard when he first listened to the tape -- or perhaps he had heard it and that was why he marked the tape "Pertinent" in the first place. It was about Burton Kaplan.

By way of demonstrating to Ramirez the kind of attention he was hoping for, Galpine told her: "Burt's wife, Eleanor, wrote to me and asked me what books I like. She sent me books about improving my vocabulary, which is one of the things I want to do with my time in here."

"Oh, Tommy," Ramirez exhaled.

"Eleanor said that she and Burt have a grandchild," Galpine said. "Their daughter Deborah adopted a baby from Russia. Burt's over the moon."

Oldham stopped the tape and hit rewind and listened to the conversation again. Kaplan's daughter had adopted a child, a boy from Russia.

Burton Kaplan had a grandson.

Not only that: Oldham now knew that Burton Kaplan had considered the news important and exciting enough to have his wife share it with Galpine (Kaplan couldn't write to Galpine himself; direct communication between federal prisoners is forbidden). Kaplan's daughter Deborah, a criminal court judge in the Bronx, was his only child. The adopted boy was his only grandchild.

Oldham thought about it. Burt Kaplan, criminal mastermind and hardcore omerta adherent, had a grandson.

"Kaplan's grandson was probably a little thing but just maybe it was a huge thing. It was the first chink in his armor, maybe. Kaplan had forsworn all of the pleasures of life to stand up to law enforcement. In the cosmos of Burton Kaplan, keeping his word and defying the federal government came first and foremost. It was his life, and his choice. But it was clear Burt didn't just love his daughter, he felt a duty toward her. The grandkid could be the old man's soft spot. It was worth a shot. It was time to pay a visit to Downtown Burt."

For months, Oldham and Henoch had talked about flipping Galpine, Kaplan, or even both men. All that the prosecutors could do to induce them was make recommendations in the form of a letter that outlined the nature and extent and value of a defendant's cooperation. For a defendant facing charges such a document was called a "5(k)" letter and for a convict seeking a reduction in sentence it was a "Rule 35" letter. But they were the same in substance. The letter explained to the sentencing judge how the admitted criminal had come to cooperate; what had been accomplished as a result of his cooperation; how he had performed as a witness.

"For a wiseguy snitch, a letter from a prosecutor singing his praises and recommending leniency was the jackpot. The attractiveness of a 5(k) letter or Rule 35 letter presented us with a huge problem that no one in law enforcement liked to talk about, or admit. There was the real and constant chance of suborning perjury -- inducing a criminal to lie. Subtle and not so subtle messages were sent to criminals about what the government wanted them to say. It happened too often. The rewards for the government for using snitches were huge -- but so were the risks. An overzealous prosecutor, or an unscrupulous federal agent, could get a desperate criminal to say just about anything about anyone. The process was simple. A mobster is asked a question once and when he answers in a certain fashion the agent says he's lying and we send him back to his cell. His attorney is told to have a talk with him. It doesn't take long to become obvious, even to a moron, that there is a right answer.

"Defense attorneys love to talk about the process of flipping mobsters and who can blame them? There are real dangers -- the benefits received, the pressures put on them, the unreliability of evidence obtained that way. The power of the government is formidable, and open to abuse. Kaplan was giving his life -- his entire existence -- over to an abstraction. The mob code of silence had swamped every other aspect of his existence. He had everything to gain from telling us what we wanted to hear. That was the beauty of Burt. He was the opposite of every two-bit jailhouse snitch and lowlife mobster looking to get out."

Oldham had not told Henoch nor anyone else in the cadre that he had decided to go see federal inmate Burton Kaplan. But Oldham needed someone from the cadre to accompany him. On the way home at the end of the day, he stopped in at the office of DEA Special Agent Mark Manko. Oldham thought well of Manko. Manko was hardworking, good-natured, and projected a steady presence. Manko was in his thirties, experienced, and not a bad detective. He could be relied upon to have the sense and discretion not to intervene in sensitive moments. Of all the members of the cadre, Manko was the most controllable. Manko's days were filled with a large degree of drudgery. If Oldham took Intartaglio, or Campanella, or Ponzi to see Kaplan there would inevitably be differences in approach and technique. Experienced detectives developed their own way of talking to criminals. The time was not right for another voice in the room with Kaplan. Oldham knew Manko would be pleased to join in such a potentially momentous and memorable encounter.

"Let's pay a visit on Burt Kaplan," Oldham said to Manko.

"Really?" Manko asked, amazed. "You think we got a chance?"

"Burton Kaplan has not had the pleasure of my company," Oldham said. "Tomorrow morning I'll be at your place first thing."

The short notice to Manko was part of Oldham's preparation. He wanted to give Manko as little warning as possible. He didn't want Manko thinking about talking to Kaplan, or seeking guidance from anyone else in the Eastern District.

Oldham walked down the hallway and stuck his head into Henoch's office. Keeping Henoch on his side and informed was important, Oldham knew. But it was Oldham's game and he was going to play it the way he saw fit.

''I'm going to give Burt a shot," Oldham said to Henoch. "Thought I'd let you know."

"That's great," Henoch said, surprised and excited. "What the fuck we got to lose?"


The next morning Oldham traveled with Manko three hours west of New York to the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains in central Pennsylvania. It was a crisp winter day, the rolling rural hills a pleasant contrast to the city streets. Manko drove. The Allenwood Federal Prison Complex was located in the town of White Deer, Pennsylvania. Oldham had not been to Allenwood in years. Since his last visit the facility had undergone enormous expansion, a beneficiary of the booming business of incarceration in America. Previously Allenwood had been a small federal prison camp with fewer than a thousand inmates. The camp, which had been described by the press as a country club when Nixon cronies resided there, boasted tennis courts, swimming, and a truly lax regimen. Allenwood was now a formidable federal correctional complex, the site of four prison facilities housing more than five thousand convicts. It was a vast concrete complex, with low-, medium-, and maximum-security prisons, sprouting watchtowers and sniper stands and ringed with walls strung with miles of barbed and razor wire.

Kaplan was housed in the medium-security prison. As an older man with no known history of violent crime, Kaplan was designated a lesser escape risk and a minimal risk to other prisoners. As Oldham checked in at the entrance, he was surprised to learn that Kaplan had been taken out of the general population and placed in administrative segregation. After securing their guns, Oldham and Manko were escorted by a correctional officer from the entry lobby to an interior building that adjoined an exercise yard. They followed a concrete walkway along a corridor until they reached a large orange metal door. The door was the entrance to the Special Housing Unit -- the "SHU" -- the section constructed to house problem inmates. A Lieutenant Stiles greeted Oldham and Manko. Stiles was in his thirties, dressed in a khaki uniform, blond, muscular, exceedingly professional. He led them into the unit, locking the door behind him. The SHU was a two-tier facility with a command post and administrative office on a landing between the floors. The cells, small and spartan, contained two concrete mattress platforms and a stainless-steel sink and toilet. No direct sunlight penetrated into the unit-the light was diffused by thick yellowed Plexiglas windows. "The atmosphere was like an intensive care ward in the dead of the night. All of the prisoners were locked down in their cells twenty-three hours a day. Whenever an inmate moved out of his cell he had to be shackled and escorted by a guard. Every door was locked. There were no televisions blaring, none of the banter and jailhouse jive. The only sounds were clanging doors and the occasional psychotic howl."

Lieutenant Stiles showed Oldham and Manko into the administrative office. The room was small, about five by ten feet. Oldham sat in a gray "Corcraft" chair (the brand of furniture manufactured by correctional inmates) by the door. Manko remained standing. Stiles went to fetch Kaplan. "I had thought about Kaplan a lot over the years. Listening to his prison tapes for hundreds of hours, watching the surveillance videotape from Staten Island, reading Casso's proffers to the FBI, I had developed a picture of the man in my mind. I knew he was a hard guy. Not muscular but temperamentally tough. I was very interested to finally meet the man behind the voice.

"Stiles came back with Kaplan, uncuffed him, and put him in the seat opposite me. Kaplan was a little shaky on his feet. He was scrawny, pale, stooped, squinting through thick eyeglasses. He looked his age-seventy-one years old. He was slightly disoriented, confused about why he had been taken from his cell, who his visitors were. Stiles seemed to like Kaplan -- at least relative to the rest of the population in the SHU. The feeling appeared to be mutual. Kaplan took a seat slowly. His eyes were smart, wary."

"Who are you?" Kaplan asked.

Oldham offered an introduction in a matter-of-fact tone. ''I'm William Oldham from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Brooklyn. This is Special Agent Mark Manko from the DEA."

"1 was expecting my attorney," Kaplan said.

"We would like to talk to you," Oldham said.

"I ain't interested," Kaplan said. "I got nothing to say."

"That's fine," Oldham said. "You don't have to say a word. I just want you to listen."

"I want my attorney," Kaplan said.

"You're a sentenced prisoner," Oldham said. "You're not under arrest and you're not being charged with anything. Burt, you have no right to an attorney and you're not getting one."

"You're putting me in a bad position," Kaplan said. "Everyone in here is going to think I'm talking."

"Not if they don't see your mouth moving," Oldham said.

The administrative office, where they were sitting, looked out on the SHU through a large Plexiglas window. Prisoners could see Kaplan was with two men dressed in "world" clothing. Maybe the pair were attorneys, maybe prison inspectors or law enforcement officials. There was no way of telling, but prison was a cauldron of rumor and speculation and the simple act of being seen speaking with outsiders could alter an inmate's reputation -- especially one like Kaplan who was known to be one of the last men in the joint who would never talk.

"Now listen to me," Oldham said. ''I'm not asking you to say anything. I'm going to tell you some things."

Stiles had stepped away for a moment to get another chair. He returned and sat at the table with Oldham and Kaplan. Oldham began the pitch. He had not rehearsed the words, or his demeanor, but he followed the practice developed over many years of talking to criminals: direct language, with no adornment, just plain hard-driving unforgiving fact.

"The world is a different place now," Oldham said. "The mafia is finished. Everyone has snitched, on you and everyone else they can think of. Anthony Casso took a contract out on you for absolutely no reason. Your friends are all dead or locked up and those situations aren't going to change. The only one keeping quiet is you."

Kaplan began to get to his feet. "I want my lawyer," he said.

"You're in here now," Oldham said, softening his tone. "Listen up. It won't take long."

Oldham had moved his chair a few inches in front of the door, impeding Burt's path to it. Kaplan started to move for the door -- or attempted to start, in the manner of a prisoner trying to assert freedom of movement. Oldham blocked his path. This was a critical moment. If Kaplan insisted, if Stiles didn't support Oldham and signal to Kaplan that it was in his best interests to stay put, he would be returned to his cell. Oldham could not force Kaplan to cooperate -- or even to listen. Oldham got lucky.

"Sit down for a minute, Burt," Stiles said soothingly. "Just listen to him."

Reluctantly, Kaplan sat. Stiles had turned the momentum in the room to Oldham's advantage. The small rapport Stiles had with Kaplan -- the respect Kaplan commanded from many people in law enforcement -- had left the door ajar a fraction of an inch. Oldham pushed forward cautiously.

"How is your family doing, Burt?" Oldham asked. "1 know your wife wants you out of here. 1 know your health isn't great. You've got prostate cancer. I've been listening to your phone calls for some time. I'm the guy who went to see your brother."

Kaplan sat perfectly still, face expressionless, staring. The muffled squawking of Stiles's walkie-talkie was the only sound intruding.

''I'm not going to tell you who we're interested in, but you know what this is about," Oldham said. "They are the only guys you could offer up that would interest us."

Kaplan spoke, measuring his words carefully. "With all due respect, and 1do respect you guys because my father-in-law was a cop, 1got nothing to say," he said. "1 ain't no rat. I'm from the old school. Those other guys snitching made me sick. 1never ratted in my whole life and I'm not going to start now. I'm seventy-one years old. This is my life."

"The guys we're talking about, they're outside living the good life," Oldham said. "You know they wouldn't keep their mouths shut for you."

"The guys you're talking about are good guys," Kaplan said. "1 don't know nothing about them."

"You're making a mistake, Burt," Oldham said. "The world around you has changed. The life you lived is over. That life doesn't exist anymore. You're an anachronism."

"What does that mean?" Kaplan asked.

"You're a dinosaur, and trust me they don't roam the earth anymore. If Tommy Galpine talks first, you're going to be out of luck. You've got another seventeen years to go. You're going to rot and die in here."

Kaplan turned to Stiles. "I want to go back to my cell now," Kaplan said.

"C'mon, Burt," Stiles said. "I'll take you back."

"We're going to see you again. I want you to think about what I said. I'm going to give Lieutenant Stiles my number. If you want to talk to me, tell Lieutenant Stiles."

Oldham handed his card to Stiles. "Can he make a phone call?" Oldham asked.

"If he wants to make this call, he can come into my office and use my phone," Stiles said. Stiles rear-cuffed Kaplan and said he would return in a minute.

With Kaplan gone, Oldham turned to Manko. They both laughed. "He's a tough old bird," Manko said. "Twenty-seven years for pot and he still won't budge."

"It's not over yet," Oldham said, sensing a glimmer of hope.

Stiles came back and led Oldham and Manko out of the administrative office.

"Burt's a hard case," Stiles said. "Seventy-one years old and the guy is in the SHU."

"What's he in the SHU for?" Oldham asked.

Stiles explained. The story involved a bet Kaplan had placed on Super Bowl XXXVIII. New England played Carolina. The Patriots won on a field goal kicked with four seconds left. Kaplan had backed New England. But the prisoner bookie with whom Kaplan had placed the bet had welched, refusing to pay. The con who owed Kaplan money was an enormous man, Stiles said, a really tough black guy. A week and a half later the black inmate was in the exercise yard. There had just been a snowfall so the yard was blanketed in white. Four Mexican inmates approached the inmate. He ran. Stiles said the four Mexicans ran the black man down like he was a wounded antelope.

"They beat him with rocks," Stiles said. "You should have seen the blood on the snow. It looked like he was going to bleed to death. When we got to him he looked like he had fallen from a plane at thirty-five thousand feet."

An investigation had been launched by Lieutenant Stiles. It was apparent that the four Mexicans had no motive to attack the black inmate. Inquiries in the prison revealed the dispute between Kaplan and the man.

"I knew it was Burt who paid the Mexicans to jump the guy but I couldn't figure out how he paid them," Stiles said. "I found a number in New Jersey Burt called using another prisoner's calling code. That was as far as I got." Stiles explained that although he didn't have enough evidence to criminally charge Kaplan, he had enough to put him in the SHU while an investigation was pending.

Oldham offhandedly asked for the phone number Kaplan had called. Stiles said it would be no problem. Oldham asked Stiles for a tour of the SHU. As they walked into the hallway, an inmate shuffled past, dragging chains from his arms and legs. The man was black, six-six, two hundred and seventy-five pounds. He had been beaten so badly the permanent damage was apparent from a distance. One of his eyes stared off into the middle distance, unresponsive to light or movement. He turned his head down. The shuffle, Oldham noted, was not because of the leg irons but due to the wounds that Kaplan's Mexican assailants had inflicted.

The next day Lieutenant Stiles provided Oldham with the telephone number Kaplan had called from Allenwood after the other inmate had welched on Kaplan's bet. Within a day Oldham had figured out how Kaplan had hired the Mexicans to jump the giant bookie. Oldham traced the number to a vending machine company in Newark, New Jersey. The company was associated with a Michael Gordon, a name that had come up during the investigation of Caracappa and Eppolito and the Lucheses. "It was clear how the money was paid out," Oldham said. "Kaplan sits and meets with the Mexicans in Allenwood and makes a deal -- a grand for jumping the bookie. When the Mexicans beat the guy, Kaplan reaches out to an associate in the vending machine company in Newark. It was the only call Kaplan made within twenty-four hours of the beating. Once it's done, the Mexicans send someone to the vending machine company to collect the cash. Kaplan was in prison but he still had power."

The significance of Oldham's actions was threefold. First, it would display to Kaplan that his every move was being monitored, and not just at the level of prison officials. Federal law enforcement was taking an interest in his current activities. If he didn't cooperate, Kaplan would be subject to scrutiny that could make his life exceptionally difficult. Second, if negotiations went poorly Oldham could use the information he had obtained to bring an additional criminal charge against Kaplan. The amount of time Kaplan would get for hiring the Mexicans to beat his fellow inmate would not be small. At Kaplan's age, with his health issues, the numerical increase would be meaningless, but for Kaplan and his family it would be a soul-sapping step in the wrong direction.

The third significance to Oldham's discovery of Kaplan's use of the Jersey company was less obvious but legally important. In order to be eligible for a Rule 35 letter, Kaplan needed to confess to or cooperate with law enforcement regarding a crime committed within one year of his most recent crime. The one-year time limit appeared to be arcane but it provided finality for the government in dealing with convicted criminals. Instead of open-ended interaction, the period of time available to a convict to reconsider was finite. If the Eastern District were going to offer Kaplan the benefit of a letter to a federal judge describing his cooperation it had to include a "fresh" crime, not the crimes for which he had been convicted nearly a decade earlier. The assault in Allenwood fit that definition.


Oldham waited once again. Time was now his ally. In early May, Oldham decided to make his move. He "writ" Kaplan down to New York from Allenwood. Six weeks had passed since his first meeting with Kaplan. Long enough, Oldham reasoned, for Kaplan to have had time to think over Oldham's pitch. Long enough for Kaplan to begin to wonder and worry when the next meeting would come. The writ was a court order signed by a judge requiring Kaplan to be moved to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, the facility designated for convicted criminals to be housed during legal proceedings in New York City. The bus trip from Allenwood to New York City was not a straight three-hour ride. Kaplan was transported by the Bureau of Prison system, which meant riding in uncomfortable buses first to St. Louis, then to Atlanta, and finally to New York. Oldham had demonstrated to Kaplan his ability to change Kaplan's circumstances for the good -- or the bad.

The morning of May 24 was sunny and warm in Brooklyn. The flowers were out on Cadman Plaza. Oldham walked to work, a pleasant three miles to clear his head. For months, Oldham had felt the walls closing in on him at the Eastern District. He was buried under a pile of cases. The "crystal ball" case had yet to take shape the way Oldham had imagined it would. They still needed Kaplan or Galpine. He made his way through the outdoor farmers' market in front of Brooklyn's City Hall, stopping to buy an apple. He had dressed smart-casual: sports jacket, button-down shirt, black jeans. Maybe this was his lucky day.

"I was in a good mood. I figured flipping Burt was going to take a while, if it happened at all. But I was optimistic. I had been preparing for years for Kaplan. I knew everything that could be known about him. Moving Kaplan to the city was a show of power. I wanted him to learn the hard way the power of the government. We could put him five minutes away from his family. I wanted him to know we could disrupt his life -- or change his life. For an older prisoner with medical problems like Burt, moving around in the federal prison system was a bitch. There weren't nice hotels with bellhops. I wanted him off balance and tired. I didn't wait for him to gather himself at the MDC."

The usual practice in pitching potential cooperators was to bring a prisoner to the U.S. Attorney's Office in downtown Brooklyn. The location was convenient for investigators and prosecutors. The problem with this procedure was that nearly everyone in the office knew which defendants and convicts were snitching. Oldham didn't want Kaplan to come to the federal offices. The floors were thick with FBI agents. Word that Kaplan was in the building would spread like wildfire. It was important to keep the investigation confidential. There was no way to know if Caracappa still had contacts in New York who would pass along word of the investigation. Oldham thought they would be better off hiding in plain sight in a visiting room at the MDC.

Oldham rode the elevator up to the nineteenth floor of Pierrepont Plaza. The hallways were lined with boxes from ongoing trials. There was one hallway with a series of rooms dedicated to each of the five crime families of New York City. Joel Campanella's door was open when Oldham stopped and poked his head inside.

"Let's go see Burt," Oldham said.

Campanella had never met Burt Kaplan. Oldham told him that Kaplan had been transported down to the MDC. As an analyst, Campanella was not a detective, nor an investigator. He scanned documents into the u.s. attorney's organized crime database created over the years. It was unusual for Campanella to leave the office. Going to see Kaplan was a rare treat for him. Oldham could have asked someone else in the office but he had known Campanella since the late eighties and thought he would be a reliable witness and note taker. ''I'm dying to meet this guy," Campanella said. "You think he's going to flip?"

"I doubt today is the day," Oldham said. "But we're moving the ball forward, or whatever the fuck they say in football."

Oldham went to his office and called Joe Ponzi in the Brooklyn DA's office. Ponzi's secretary picked up. Oldham asked to be put through.

"What's up, Oldham?" Ponzi asked within seconds.

"You want to take a ride?" Oldham asked.

"Where you going?"

"I thought I'd go over to MDC and see Burt Kaplan."

There was a pause. Oldham hadn't told Ponzi that he was bringing Kaplan to the city.

"Really?" Ponzi asked. "Hell, yeah. I'm busy but I'm not that busy."

"I'll come get you," Oldham said.

The call appeared to be casual, the request offhanded, but Oldham had given the matter considerable thought. It wasn't like taking Special Agent Gene Kizenko to the first meeting of the cadre, or having Special Agent Manko accompany him to Allenwood. This encounter with Kaplan had the potential to be make-or-break. Ponzi was Oldham's first choice.

The reputation of Joe Ponzi as an interrogator had been established many years earlier. "He Gets Slayers to Sing," a Daily News profile of Ponzi in the late eighties had been headlined. "At first glance, he looks like a well-heeled real estate guy -- houndstooth suit, silk tie, shoes polished a glossy ebony," reporter Mark Kriegel wrote. "Only the hair gives him up. Straight back and perfect, just like they wear it in South Brooklyn." The article enumerated Ponzi's already prodigious accomplishments, even though he was only thirty-three years old at the time. More than seventy-five murderers had confessed to Ponzio Known as a polygraph expert, Ponzi rarely used the machine in his sessions with suspects. The device was a prop and a way of facilitating conversation. There were a few simple principles Ponzi followed, all in accordance with Oldham's practice. Adapt your performance to your audience. Be tough, when required, calm and reasonable when it played to your advantage. Don't bang tables. Don't lie. Show your man you're not afraid of him. No guns in the room. No security standing at the door. Don't let silence kill you. Keep the guy talking, or talk yourself. Let them know it's the most important day of their lives -- the Before and After moment. Never give up. No matter how long it takes.

"Joe was the son of one of the best Brooklyn cops of all time. His father was known as Larry but his real name was Emidio Ponzio Joe called his father 'the Sergeant.' In his day in the Brooklyn branch of the NYPD, Larry Ponzi had seen it all -- including the act of an overweight loudmouth named Louis Eppolito. When Eppolito was in the Brooklyn Robbery Squad, Larry Ponzi was his commanding officer. Joe didn't just have expertise and the power of being a senior and respected figure in the DA's office. Joe had history. Chances were good that Kaplan would recognize the name Ponzio Kaplan's father-in-law had been a cop. Kaplan was a bit of cop buff himself, giving deals to off-duty cops at his Brooklyn warehouse during the eighties. In Allenwood Kaplan had told me he 'respected cops' and the job we have to do. Ponzi was the personification of respect. I knew he would be respectful of Kaplan and not blow our chance with histrionics. I trusted him, and there is no bigger compliment I could give one of my brothers in law enforcement. Joe wouldn't turn on me, come what may. By this time I was in the middle of alienating pretty much everyone around me. I was drinking too much. Joe knew my kind. To succeed the way Joe did -- to get so many people to confess to their most heinous acts -- required a fine appreciation for human frailty."

Dressed sharply, as usual, Ponzi was waiting outside the entrance to the Brooklyn DA's office. Campanella rode in the back of Oldham's beat-up purple Dodge Omni. Oldham was always assigned the worst car in the Eastern District's pool of automobiles due to his richly deserved reputation for trashing vehicles. His purple ride distinguished itself for shabbiness with shot shock absorbers and a cracked windshield. As the men pulled onto the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway there was the unmistakable air of excitement in the car.

"How you want to approach it, Mr. Oldham?" Ponzi asked.

"We got to see who's doing the talking," Oldham said. "If he's not talking we have to keep talking at him. The way to get him to talk is to start bad-mouthing the FBI. He'll join right in. Talk about his twenty-seven-year pot sentence. That'll get him started."

"What's he like?" Ponzi asked.

"Very cagey. He's not going to give anything up before he knows he wants to do a deal. He's going to want to know where he stands. We have to dance around. Allude to what we want. We don't want Caracappa and Eppolito to come up in this session. No specificity. He's not going to talk about crime until he's proffering."

With an interrogator as experienced and adept as Ponzi, Oldham didn't need to layout the obvious. Don't overpromise. Don't suborn perjury. Don't play games. Don't force the position or back Kaplan into a corner so that the first session becomes the last session. The tone set in the initial meeting would persist throughout their dealings with Kaplan, if there were any. Oldham told Ponzi about Kaplan's adopted Russian grandson. The boy presented a new and perhaps significant personal dilemma to Kaplan. He couldn't sit down and explain to a three-year-old why he chose to remain in prison rather than tell the truth and perhaps be free to come home. Oldham told Ponzi about the Mexicans Kaplan had hired.

"He's not without resources," Oldham told Ponzio "He's not out of the game. He works with what he's got."

Turning off the expressway at the 30th Street exit in the industrial wasteland of the Brooklyn docks, Oldham gave Ponzi and Campanella the rundown on the cast of characters in Kaplan's life. He mentioned Kaplan's girlfriend in Las Vegas. They talked often. Michael Gordon was a convicted heroin dealer who was also close to Kaplan. Tommy Galpine was Kaplan's longtime sidekick.

Kaplan's loyalty to his old gangster friends and life had to be taken out of the equation, Oldham said. Kaplan owed no loyalty to Casso. He had to be convinced that any sense of loyalty he felt toward Caracappa and Eppolito was misguided. "There was no neutral territory. Tommy Galpine was going to pay a price if Kaplan didn't talk. Galpine had eight years left to serve -- less than one hundred months. On Galpine's prison tapes he repeatedly expressed the desire to leave his life of crime behind and move to Oklahoma. Kaplan thought of Galpine as a son. If Kaplan refused to cooperate, we would tell him our next step was to take Galpine out of the prison camp in Duluth, Minnesota, and move him to a maximum-security prison. Prison camps were comparatively comfortable, when contrasted with most federal penitentiaries. Kaplan would then be responsible for Galpine's fate, yet again, just as he'd been when he brought him into the world of crime at the age of sixteen.

"You give your target a choice. One choice is good. There are benefits. The decision will sting. No one wanted to rat, especially Kaplan. But the other choice has to be so bad that it is not only irrational, it is crazy. Joe and I didn't talk about it, but it was clear that we were going to play different characters. The cliche is good cop/bad cop. There is a kernel of truth to that saying, but it disguises the complexity of the encounter. Joe represented the acceptable face of law enforcement. He was well dressed, straightforward, reliable. I was the wild card -- the guy you couldn't predict. I was the hammer. The hammer drives the point home. Joe would put the case for cooperating. Joe would describe the benefits. Possible sentence reduction, witness protection, maybe a grandson bouncing on his knee. I would layout the costs. If you don't help us, we're going to go about making your life miserable. Burt had the right to remain silent. We had the right to move him to a prison in the bayous of Louisiana."
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Re: The Brotherhoods: The True Story of Two Cops Who Murdere

Postby admin » Wed Jun 18, 2014 2:17 am



The enormous Metropolitan Detention Center complex was located in Brooklyn's Sunset Park. On visiting days, the lobby entrance was filled with women coming to visit their boyfriends and husbands. The lot was deserted on this May day. Oldham parked the car and the three men entered a secure room off the lobby where their weapons and cell phones were placed in gun lockers. Buzzed first into a vestibule, Oldham, Ponzi, and Campanella surrendered their identification and had their hands stamped with ink visible only under ultraviolet light. The guard processing their entry was hidden behind smoked glass. The second buzzer sent them through to the waiting room. Oldham told a prison officer sitting at a desk that they were there to see Burt Kaplan. He gave the man a slip of paper with Kaplan's registry number. The officer picked up his walkietalkie and called for Kaplan to be brought down from his cell.

The "Counsel Rooms" were glass-enclosed cubicles arranged along two walls of the visiting area. There was a guard located on a raised platform at the head of the area for security purposes. The place was freezing cold. Vending machines sold stale sandwiches, pretzels, and soda at exorbitant prices. Oldham spent five dollars buying a pack of pretzels and a Coke for Kaplan.

A large conference room-sized cubicle at one end of the row was occupied by a convict and two attorneys. Ponzi pointed out Joseph C. "Big Joey" Massino, the Bonanno boss known in the press as "the last Don." Once a close friend of John Gotti and one of the mafia bosses convicted in the Commission Case in 1986 but since released from prison, Massino had been arrested in 2003. The main charge was ordering the murder of Dominick "Sonny Black" Napolitano on August 17, 1981. Sonny Black was killed because he had been the wiseguy who allowed FBI agent Joe Pistone, posing as a knockaround gangster named Donnie Brasco, to penetrate the Bonanno family. Sonny Black had been found dead, with his hands cut off as a gesture indicating his punishment for "shaking hands" and trusting an FBI agent. In the spring of 2004, Massino was facing the death penalty. "The case against Massino was overwhelming. He was going to go to be executed. The only defense strategy open to him was to cooperate. Which was what Massino did a few weeks later. While we were preparing to flip Burt Kaplan, 'the last Don' was going over a defense strategy which would lead him to become the first boss to snitch on his own family -- the ultimate rat."

Oldham and Ponzi chose a cubicle at the opposite end of the row. The room was small, claustrophobic. The table was gray formica-topped, the chairs black plastic, the fluorescent lights locked behind metal grates. Oldham arranged the chairs so Kaplan would have to sit on the opposite side of the room, farthest from the door. The arrangement made it impossible for Kaplan to leave the room without asking one of his interrogators to let him by. Campanella was designated to take notes, if notes were needed. Defense attorneys were entitled to all documentation created by investigators. Only the broadest outline of the conversation would be memorialized for formal purposes, unless Kaplan suddenly started to talk, a very unlikely outcome.

Kaplan entered through a gray metal door in the corner of the room wearing a standard-issue khaki prison jumpsuit. He was squinting through his thick glasses and seemed disoriented and out of his element. Kaplan had not been informed of the reason for his transfer, nor did he know who was waiting for him in the counsel area.

"You're not my lawyer," Kaplan said, standing at the doorway. He recognized Oldham and nodded his head. "I figured," Kaplan said.

"Sit down," Oldham said, indicating the vacant chair.

Oldham, Ponzi, and Campanella remained standing to give Kaplan room to get to his chair.

"This is Joel Campanella from my office," Oldham said.

"I'm Joe Ponzi, an investigator with the Brooklyn DA's office."

"Why is he here?" Kaplan asked. Kaplan was in a federal institution, serving time on a federal conviction, so he wanted to know why a state official such as Ponzi was present.

"We want to make sure whatever you tell us is covered in the state and federally," Oldham said. "We want everybody on board with this thing. We don't want anyone taking a shot at you independently."

"I thought you were FBI, with the suit and everything," Kaplan said to Ponzi.

Oldham began the discussion.

"Look, we got to work this thing out," Oldham said. "Relatively speaking, you're a pretty good guy. You're not the worst guy we've come across. The other guys did murders. They're bad guys. Casso, Amuso, they're real bad actors."

The aim, in the beginning, was to downplay Kaplan's culpability and make him feel he had been treated poorly by the authorities. The mindset Oldham wanted to create was that Kaplan had been victimized -- and he and Ponzi had come to help him.

"You know the government wanted you," Oldham said. "Big Sal Miciotta, the Colombo captain, cooperated and he got five years for four murders. You got twenty-seven years for dealing pot. You do the math."

"And they never showed any of my pot," Kaplan said. "The pot they brought into court in a wheelbarrow wasn't even my pot. They lied on me. "

"We're with you," Oldham said. "That's part of the reason we're willing to help you out."

"The FBI are liars," Kaplan said, visibly agitated. "I had a one hundred percent legitimate clothing business they took from me. They came to me when I got arrested in the pot case and said I didn't have to do a day in jail. All I had to do was talk. I told them to get lost. I don't want nothing to do with them guys."

With Kaplan talking, Oldham fell quiet and let Ponzi explain the situation. Regardless of Kaplan's cooperation, the Brooklyn DA was going to prosecute Caracappa and Eppolito for the kidnapping and murder of Jimmy Hydell. The investigation had revealed that Betty Hydell, the kid's mother, had seen Caracappa and Eppolito outside her house in Brooklyn the day of her son Jimmy's disappearance. Tommy Dades's "golden nugget" was not going to get a conviction without a human face telling the story of the conspiracy, Oldham believed, but it could prove priceless if it helped convince Kaplan that a state prosecution was a real possibility.

Oldham explained the immediate consequences. With the Hydell murder count in state court, Kaplan would be taken out of federal custody and lodged at Rikers Island. The suggestion of Rikers was dread-inducing for an elderly and sickly white man. Federal prison was paradise compared to state prison. Oldham didn't have to tell Kaplan that Rikers was awash in young violent kids, junkies, rapists. There was civility and control in Allenwood, even in the SHU. Kaplan could read magazines, rest, relax. There was a perverse soothingness to the routine of institutional life. Rikers, by contrast, was Dantesque.

"If you don't come across there's a good chance Tommy will," Oldham said.

"Tommy's a good kid," Kaplan said. "He don't know nothing."

Oldham let the hammer fall again. "Tommy's going to get hurt in this," Oldham replied. "We're not going away this time. I didn't put in all these years to have this case hit the wall. We're not taking 'no' for an answer."

He could feel Kaplan's anger toward him growing. Kaplan had entered the room with a vision of himself as a tough guy willing to defy authority to live up to his ideals. Oldham wanted him to walk out furious -- and afraid. Kaplan had to believe even more suffering would befall him and his loved ones if he continued to hide the truth.

Ponzi intervened, sensing the need to change the atmosphere.

"Burt, you've got to understand our position," Ponzi said. "We've put together a team of guys that aren't the FBI. We're going to do this. It's going to get done once and for all. We want you on our side."

"This is our business," Oldham said. "We've been doing this a long time. We're not going to lie to you. We're not going to make promises to you. I can't stay in this business if I go around lying to cooperators. I don't have anything against you personally. You can ask around about me. You can ask around about Joe Ponzio Joe is as straight as they come. You're talking to the chief investigator from the Brooklyn DA's office. He didn't send an errand boy. We think this is important."

"I respect you guys," Kaplan said. "Ask anybody, I got a lot of respect for cops. It's a tough job. This just isn't the way I came up."

Kaplan pushed back his chair and rose. He made for the door, trying to squeeze by Oldham's chair.

"We understand, Burt," Ponzi said. "But you have to understand the world has changed. The old world doesn't exist. The codes of honor are a joke. Nobody stays silent. We have guys lining up to talk to us now."

"We respect your position but it's not pragmatic," Oldham said. "It doesn't make sense. Why are you alone going to take the fall? You're smarter than that."

Kaplan sat again. Not defeated, Oldham thought, but another small step had been taken. Incrementally. Calmly. Logically. Those were the key words, for Oldham, as he considered how to proceed.

"We will do whatever it takes to help you out, once you're with us," Ponzi said. "There's nothing we won't try to do. We're not allowed by law to promise you anything. The judge decides. But we can work with you to maximize your benefit."

"We can't tell you what you'll get," Oldham said, dropping his voice to make it clear he was now leveling with Kaplan. "But I will tell you what other people in your position got. Take Sammy Gravano. Nineteen murders and he got five years with three years of supervised release. With time served, he did less than two and a half years after he testified against Gotti."

Oldham had never conducted a pitch to a potential cooperator without referring to the" Gravano deal. " Everyone knowledgeable in organized crime, mobsters as well as cops, considered the terms overly generous. The outcome was infamous. In cooperating, Gravano had taken himself from the near-certainty of a life sentence to a book deal and a life in a big house with a swimming pool in Arizona. The fact that Gravano subsequently started dealing ecstasy with his son and was sent back to prison for twenty years was also widely known. But it was the amazing deal Gravano had struck that stayed in the mind of every serious criminal Oldham had encountered since.

"Gravano took responsibility," Ponzi said. "He came to us. Voluntary acceptance of responsibility is a huge positive consideration for judges."

"You didn't kill anyone --" Oldham said.

Kaplan began to rise from his chair again. Kaplan met Oldham's eyes for a split second.

"-- that we know of," Oldham finished.

Kaplan sat back down again.

"You're not well," Oldham said.

"We can help get you better medical care," Ponzi said. "We can keep you close to your family in New York. Your wife has put up with you being in prison for years."

"We're not interested in all your other friends," Oldham said. "We really don't care. There are two guys we're interested in. You know who we're talking about."

The moment had arrived.

"I took an oath," Kaplan said.

"They took a fucking oath," Oldham said, now angry himself. "I was a cop for twenty-five years. I was in Major Case with one of those guys. I know what a fucking oath is about. If every cop in New York City was like these two, no one could walk the streets."

"You're right about that," Kaplan said.

"Those guys didn't take an oath of omerta," Oldham said. "They took an oath to protect and serve. They didn't protect and they didn't serve."

The names of Detectives Stephen Caracappa and Louis Eppolito had not been mentioned. Prompting Kaplan on such a fundamental matter in any way could have serious consequences at trial. If Oldham or Ponzi mentioned the names first, an experienced and able defense attorney would elicit that information in cross-examination. Juries did not like to hear that law enforcement was suggesting evidence to its cooperators. Maintaining Kaplan's integrity for trial was crucial, even though he had not agreed to cooperate.

"You know who we mean," Oldham said. "Your 'friends.'''

Kaplan didn't speak for a moment. But he didn't feign ignorance. Engaging in any discussion was a tacit admission on Kaplan's part. Kaplan parsed his words carefully, allowing himself room to backtrack and avoiding any admission that could be used against him. The terms were set by Kaplan. He referred to the pair as the "fat one" and the "skinny one." A different formulation was the "loud guy" and the" quiet guy." No fool, Kaplan was leaving himself room to recant.

"Them guys, the fat guy and the skinny guy, they're really not such bad guys," Kaplan said. "They just got mixed up in the wrong business."

"Burt, Oldham and I respect you for standing up," Ponzi said. "But you have to know you are standing up for nothing and no one. Look at Casso. Your friend Gaspipe is trying to get you whacked and his wife is living in a house owned by you, while your own wife is just getting by. Meanwhile, the fat guy and the skinny guy are out in Vegas living the high life."

"They wouldn't do shit for you," Oldham said.

"The skinny guy would," Kaplan said.

In that moment -- in defending the honor of Stephen Caracappa -- Kaplan had started to shadow box. The change in stance was slight but perceptible. Kaplan was saying very little -- but he was talking and the conversation was building toward an exchange. Kaplan realized the alteration in tone and stopped himself.

"I want my lawyer with me," Kaplan said. "I don't mean to be rude, fellas, but I got to get going."

Kaplan rose for a third time.

Oldham looked at Ponzi and then Campanella and then Kaplan, who was waiting expectantly for Oldham to move and allow him to pass.

"Burt, you're giving up your grandson," Oldham said. "You're going to die in jail without ever touching him. You're choosing the fat guy and the skinny guy over your only grandson's chance to know his grandfather."

Oldham knew in that instant that he had surprised Kaplan -- shocked him, in fact. The distaste Kaplan had displayed for Oldham now appeared to be outright hate. How did Oldham know about his grandson? Were there no lengths to which the government wouldn't go? Bringing an innocent child into the equation? In Kaplan's mind, it seemed to Oldham, it was not just a low blow -- it must have been the cruelest truth. Oldham did not spell out the cascading consequences to Kaplan. If Kaplan didn't cooperate, the boy would grow up knowing that his grandfather had had the opportunity to be with him - and finally tell the truth about his life -- but he had opted to be a criminal unto the bitterest end. Kaplan's ruined life would be imprinted on the consciousness of the boy who would carry the memory of Burton Kaplan for the rest of his life.

"Your daughter would like her son to be able to know his grandfather, for you to teach him how to be a man," Oldham said. This was Oldham's play. From Kaplan's reaction, Oldham thought he might have found Kaplan's vulnerability. It matched his impression from listening to Kaplan's prison phone calls. The child struck an emotional cord with Kaplan.

"How do you know about that?" Kaplan asked.

"1 know things," Oldham said.

"She brings him up to visit sometimes," Kaplan said.

Kaplan sat down. He stared directly ahead. Kaplan wouldn't look at Oldham. "Joe, can 1use your pen and paper?" Kaplan asked.

Ponzi slid his yellow legal pad across the table. Kaplan scribbled on the pad.

"Joe, that's my lawyer's name and number," he said.

Ponzi replied, adopting a formal tone of voice, "Thank you, Burt."

As Kaplan rose to leave the room, Oldham allowed him to pass. Ponzi opened the door for him as Kaplan avoided Oldham's eyes. Kaplan seemed relieved, but also disgusted with himself in some way-an emotion he projected onto Oldham. "It was nice to meet you fellas," he said to Ponzi and Campanella.

As Oldham and Ponzi and Campanella walked back to the car through the parking lot they were jubilant.

"1 knew we had him the third time he stood up and sat down," Oldham said.

"We got him," Ponzi exclaimed.

Oldham turned to Ponzi with a broad smile.

"Good job, Joe. 1think Burt's in love with you."


The next meeting of the cadre took place in a large conference room on the nineteenth floor of the Eastern District offices. The shift in meetings from the Brooklyn DA's quarters signaled yet further the slippage of the case from a state to a federal prosecution. Oldham, Special Agent Manko, and Campanella were in attendance for the feds. Ponzi, Intartaglio, and Tommy Dades represented the Brooklyn DA. Oldham told the assembled group that he and Ponzi had talked to Kaplan. Everyone in the room had extensive experience with the delicate matter of convincing criminals to snitch. Everyone had an opinion on how to turn the opening Ponzi and Oldham had created into a cooperation agreement. Fights in the cadre meetings were routine. The meetings were productive but often contentious as egos clashed.

As the attorney assigned to the case, Henoch tried to gain power over how it was conducted. But since he had started, Henoch knew there was no way he could dictate to Oldham when and how to approach Galpine or Kaplan. Oldham had his own style and methodology. Moreover, a prosecutor should not be the first one involved in negotiations with a criminal like Kaplan. An experienced detective like Oldham knew how to loosen up Kaplan and could speak the same language. It had to start with a cop -- it had to start with Oldham.

But Oldham had argued with Tommy Dades for weeks about how to approach Kaplan. "Tommy wanted to tell Burt we had him as well as the cops on the Jimmy Hydell homicide," Oldham recalled. "There was nothing wrong with the suggestion, legally or morally. Cops lie to suspects all the time. It just wasn't a good idea. Burt would ask how we had him. We didn't have a good enough answer, I thought. Betty Hydell wouldn't convince Kaplan. He was a sophisticated businessman as much as he was a mob associate. Kaplan wasn't going to be bullied or bullshitted. The art of the deal was needed -- persuasion, reason, self-interest."

"It's not going to work," Oldham said to Dades. "If we lie to Burt he will know we're lying and we'll be fucked. If we lie, he will lie to us. We'll fuck up the entire case."

Dades didn't agree.

In many ways, Oldham was difficult to deal with. He did not work well in team situations. He could be evasive, argumentative, combative. He could be a jerk, he knew. "Likability is one of the most overrated characteristics in fact and fiction," Oldham said. "It might be strange to say this, but it's the truth. I was not a likable character. I didn't come to work to make friends. I came to put dangerous people in jail. Twenty-five years as a cop, detective, and then federal investigator put an edge on me. Bobby 1. and Campanella were different. They had been NYPD detectives for decades, but they were controlled, detailed-oriented, and patient. The team needed all kinds."

For some time there had been tension simmering between Oldham and Dades. There was no personal animosity, it seemed to Oldham, but a reflection of real institutional tensions. Oldham was attached to the United States Attorney's Office, and might have divided loyalties, despite his many years in the NYPD. Dades was working for the Brooklyn DA's office so he was technically an investigator on the state side. The two agencies were supposed to be working together but decades of rivalry and double-dealing -- mostly on the part of the FBI -- had left raw wounds. The investigation of Caracappa and Eppolito had started out with the local DA, but it had gradually begun to fall further under the sway of the feds-a familiar pattern that created resentment. "Our personalities were also very different," Oldham recalled. "Tommy was an ex-boxer. He was pure Brooklyn. I wasn't. I read books by Flannery O'Connor. Both of us were pretty good detectives, though, and both of us had strong opinions on most things -- which we were more than willing to share."

Two versions of the case were emerging inside the cadre, one state, one federal. The Brooklyn DA account claimed that Betty Hydell and the printout of the search for the wrong Nicky Guido were sufficient proof for a successful prosecution -- thus, the case had been" made" by Tommy Dades and the Brooklyn DA team. The other version held that getting Tommy Galpine or Burt Kaplan to talk would "make" the case -- then and only then would convictions be the likely outcome. Both were right, and both were wrong. Every component was necessary. In the end, making a RICO case required an insider to tell the story. Corroborative evidence, such as the wrong Nicky Guido printout, was meaningless without a storyteller. The tale had to be told to a jury by a reliable narrator. Otherwise the rest of the case would lack context and meaning.

The undercurrent of tension finally erupted in a fit of anger on the part of Oldham. During a meeting to discuss tactics to try to get Kaplan to flip, Oldham insisted on controlling contact with Kaplan and his attorney.

No lies would be told to Kaplan, he told the group.

Dades got to his feet to speak. Oldham held his hand out and put it a foot in front of Dades's face to keep him from speaking; Oldham was in his face.

Dades looked at Oldham's hand, hesitated, and then angrily left the room.

Oldham rose and went after him. "I followed Tommy into the hallway, into the lobby, and then along a second hallway to the men's room. I wasn't going to let it pass. I like Tommy a lot but he was wrong about lying to Kaplan. There was no 'golden nugget.' The case had been built up over years and years. Turf wars like this did nothing to help the case. It had become a pissing match. Tommy was at one urinal, I was at the next one."

"You don't really think you made this case on your own, do you?" Oldham said to Dades. "You did a lot of important stuff. But there ain't no fucking 'golden nugget.'''

"Whatever," Dades said. He shook, zipped, and left.

"Tommy returned to the meeting and sat quietly. He never attended another meeting of the cadre. A short time later, he resigned from the DA's office. I was sorry Tommy left. He was all right. We still had a long way to go to make the case. We had to close the deal with Burt. And then we had to build a case for trial. It would have been good to have Tommy along for the ride."

Joe Ponzi gave the name and number of Kaplan's lawyer to Oldham. David Schoen was a former New Yorker who had moved to Alabama to practice capital cases, and there were many such cases in the Bible Belt states of the South. For the following three weeks, Oldham spoke regularly with Schoen. They discovered they had friends in common through their years working with convicted murderers. "Schoen was professional and thorough and courteous," Oldham recalled. "I liked dealing with him. Schoen understood this was Kaplan's last best chance to change his life. As a defense attorney, Schoen had dedicated his life to trying to save the lives of death row prisoners -- a cause I agreed with. As a cop, I had dealt with killers for decades and one thing I came to strongly believe is that taking life is wrong. Period. Burton Kaplan wasn't facing a death penalty, but he was effectively doing life. Schoen agreed that Kaplan had every good reason to become a cooperator. There was no downside for Kaplan. Things could not get any worse. As for Kaplan's loyalty to Caracappa and Eppolito, they were the only beneficiaries of Kaplan's largesse -- two killer cops living on Silver Bear Way in Las Vegas, doubtless steeped in ingratitude. Meanwhile Kaplan's wife, daughter, and grandson had had to make do without him."

Reaching Kaplan through a conduit such as Schoen was critical, Oldham knew. There was a limited number of times that Kaplan could be approached by law enforcement before the fine balance between persuasion and provocation was tipped. During the swelter of late August, Oldham called Kaplan's attorney every day. Over time, as the two men bargained and brainstormed, Oldham came to have Schoen's home phone, cell phone, and travel itinerary. The main subject of their discussion was how to craft a Rule 35 letter. The letter would be presented to a federal judge, after Kaplan had testified against Caracappa and Eppolito. Cooperating against the the former detectives would put Kaplan at the center of one of the biggest trials in the history of New York City. Schoen made it known that Kaplan was seriously considering flipping.

While the main question was outstanding, smaller issues arose with Schoen. Kaplan insisted that Tommy Galpine also get a deal. There was no problem with that demand, provided Galpine cooperated as well -- which Oldham was sure he would if Kaplan started to sing. Galpine would probably do anything Kaplan told him to do. There was also the matter of Kaplan pleading guilty to the conspiracy to have the bookie jumped by the Mexicans in Allenwood. With Kaplan's confession to that crime, there was a felony committed within the past year -- so Kaplan qualified for a Rule 35 despite not talking about "the cops" for all those years.

"But there was one huge obstacle," Oldham recalled. "Kaplan wouldn't snitch on anyone else, including himself. He would not recite and confess to every crime he had ever committed. He would not describe the criminal acts of the gangsters he had dealt with over the years. Kaplan flat refused to become a snitch, at least in the conventional sense. No one had ever got the deal Kaplan was holding out for. Casso, Gravano, Big Sal Miciotta -- when a wiseguy ratted he had to rat on himself. He had to rat on all his friends. Gravano got Gambinos arrested in huge numbers. Sixty mobsters were busted after Big Sal came over to our side. Casso incriminated an unbelievable number of people. Casso's confessions read like a diabolical version of the Old Testament, with a bewildering number of names and so much senseless violence.

"Kaplan thought he understood the importance of leverage in business. He wasn't just another gangster reciting the dreary details of another brutal gangland conspiracy. For a convicted felon sitting in solitary confinement, with seemingly no hope left in the universe, he had an oversized appreciation for the power he held. Kaplan believed we were going to have to pay his price, no matter how exorbitant. He had such contempt for federal authorities he didn't figure we could be canny -- that he was talking to a former NYPD detective, the kind of cop who knew his kind. I was not going to be Burton Kaplan's fool. He was going to be mine.

"I was working the negotiation solo, not with Henoch or anyone else in the cadre. It was what 1 had trained to do my whole life. Kaplan could think he was in control. Kaplan could believe he was getting over, again. When 1 talked to Schoen 1 was just an investigator -- a guy who could say and do things the lawyers couldn't. Henoch trusted me.

"Testifying against Caracappa and Eppolito would give us the most important thing we wanted. Not ratting on his lifelong buddies would allow Kaplan to keep a shred of his dignity.

"But decades of law enforcement practice stood in the way. A cooperator has to give up everything when they flip. It was as simple as that. I wanted Kaplan to convince himself that he had found a way out. Once we had Kaplan in a room talking terms, we were talking terms, not talking about talking itself. It wasn't unusual for a potential cooperator to angle for the best deal possible. My duty was to make a deal, and convince Kaplan that he should talk, but it wasn't my responsibility to stop him from imagining that he could have it both ways. I wanted him to think he could flip and save face as a gangster. I wasn't lying to Kaplan and I wasn't misleading him. I was allowing an impression to form, however improbable the scenario. Finally, after dozens of calls and six weeks of talking, the pendulum swung decisively. I was ordering the steamed sea bass for lunch at a restaurant in Chinatown when my phone rang."

"I think we got a deal," Schoen said.

"About time," Oldham said with a laugh. "It's never too late."

Oldham was elated. He had no idea he was soon to be deflated. A crucial but little understood moment in federal criminal prosecutions occurred when the case ceased to belong to investigators and passed into the hands of prosecutors. The process was usually gradual. As investigators gathered more evidence, lawyers started to shape the mass of information collected for the upcoming trial. Tactical decisions became strategic. Handling a witness, or deciding whom to subpoena, were matters that prosecutors wanted to control. Power shifted in increments, like grains of sand slipping through the fingers of the investigators, until a new paradigm emerged.

"Henoch was much younger than most of the cadre. We were all older. But seniority was no longer important. Henoch had tried dozens of cases. He knew that the manner in which a key witness was prepped formed the foundation for that witness's entire testimony. As investigators, the cadre ran interrogations. As a prosecutor, Henoch would be running the proffers and trial preparations."

After the session at the MDC, Oldham moved Kaplan to the Federal Correctional Institution Gilmer in West Virginia. Henoch and Mark Feldman flew down to West Virginia to finalize the agreement with Kaplan and Schoen. Oldham was supposed to attend but his flight was delayed by weather and he missed the session. "I thought it was an omen," Oldham recalled. "I had been sober for months. During that time, I had been able to focus and really think through the approach to Kaplan -- the staging and sequencing. With Kaplan coming on board, I knew the case was going to get done -- and that Steve and Louis were going to get done. It was a personal triumph. But I hit a wall -- a personal brick wall. By Thanksgiving the FBI had managed to have Special Agent Geraldine Hart assigned to the case."

In FCI Gilmer, Henoch's boss Mark Feldman began the conversation. Feldman said there would be no special favors given to Kaplan for cooperating, nor would he suffer any punishment if he decided not to cooperate.

"I was told I wouldn't have to talk about anyone but me and the cops," Kaplan said.

"That's not how it works, Mr. Kaplan," Henoch said. "That's not the deal. It's never going to be the deal."

Henceforth, Kaplan's location and cooperation had to be kept secret. Kaplan was taken from West Virginia to a small county jail in rural New Jersey. A criminal of Kaplan's pedigree would normally never be housed in such a low-security environment. That was the point. The anonymity afforded by a county jail offered the best cover for Kaplan. Prisoners were doing brief stints for drunk driving and assault. They cycled through the facility on a short-term basis. They were petty offenders, not organized criminals, and it would not occur to them that they had in their midst a criminal of Kaplan's stature in the underworld. Kaplan could be taken out and returned at night without attracting attention. Nothing truly big could be happening in Ocean County, New Jersey, during the lazy days of August. The nearby Holiday Inn in Toms River was perfect for conducting serial debriefings attended by as many as a dozen people at a time.

Henoch dictated the rules. There would be no conversation with Kaplan by Oldham or anyone else. No names would be mentioned that Kaplan did not bring up himself. Henoch would start at the beginning and proceed chronologically to accumulate the amazing but true story of Burton Kaplan's life and crimes. Oldham and the other older investigators in the cadre were invited to sit in on the sessions and listen only.

For months, Henoch and DEA Special Agent Mark Manko rose with the dawn and drove from New York to New Jersey to trace Kaplan's life from Vanderbilt Avenue in Brooklyn to secret meetings with Caracappa and Eppolito in the produce section of a Las Vegas supermarket. Oldham's choice of prosecutor had been superb. Caracappa and Eppolito were going to be tried and convicted, Oldham believed. He was on the way to winning his last and greatest case -- and yet he had lost his grasp on it. Henoch was now in charge.
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Re: The Brotherhoods: The True Story of Two Cops Who Murdere

Postby admin » Wed Jun 18, 2014 2:20 am



On a June morning in 2002 a certified public accountant named Steven Corso drove to work in Manhattan from his home in the wealthy suburb of Greenwich, Connecticut. In his late forties, Corso had the look of a dissipated frat boy, with a wide jowl, ruddy face, and dark, slicked-back hair. He had been educated at New York University and Cornell. Married with two young children, Corso was a successful businessman, and a name partner in the prestigious accounting firm of Merdinger, Fruchter, Rosen & Corso. His firm had offices in New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Las Vegas, and Switzerland. His clients were rich. For a kid from working-class Hackensack, New Jersey, Corso had done very well in life.

As Corso made his way toward Manhattan, he received a call on his cell phone. His office manager told him that the FBI and the IRS were in the office. Federal law enforcement officials were picking through and seizing Corso's files. Corso thanked the office manager and hung up. It was no mystery to Corso what was going on. He called a friend who was an attorney and asked him to recommend a criminal defense attorney. The lawyer Corso contacted called the U.S. attorney in Connecticut and inquired if Corso was in legal jeopardy. "Part of the 'game' of prosecutions is withholding charges until the moment is right," Oldham said. "The attorney was told Corso was not the target of an indictment and that there were no warrants for his arrest outstanding."

Corso was no fool. He never returned to the offices of his accounting firm. There was no turning back. Flight was the answer. His life had been spiraling downward for years. Disaster, Corso knew, was inevitable. He flew to Las Vegas and hit the gaming tables. Corso was already in debt to various hotels and casinos in town for more than half a million dollars. From 1997 until 2002 Corso had stolen $5,329,000 from various clients.

Corso's theft was not a complicated financial scheme. His modus operandi was simple. Responsible for preparing the tax returns for wealthy clients, he told them that the IRS had assessed them large sums in tax liabilities. The firm was reputable, as was Corso, and there was no reason for his clients to doubt him. They wired money to cover the tax liabilities to an escrow account maintained by Corso. The sums were never paid to the IRS. Instead, Corso took the money to gamble, buy his girlfriends designer clothes and jewelry, and bankroll the life of a Vegas "high roller."

For the next six months no one from law enforcement contacted Corso. But the lawmen were closing in. Finally, in October 2002, Corso traveled back to the East Coast to answer questions and provide details about the amount of money he had stolen. There was no publicity attached to Corso's capture or crimes. "For the FBI, nabbing a man like Corso represented an opportunity to place him into the financial world as a cooperator. Corso didn't just look the part -- he was the part. He understood high finance from both sides of the fence. The FBI wanted to put him into the field and see how he did. Corso would effectively be an undercover agent for the Bureau. In exchange he hoped to get the lightest sentence possible -- maybe no time at all."

Corso worked on an investigation of a possible bank fraud during November and December 2002 posing as a corrupt accountant. Afterward, he returned to Las Vegas, where he owned a house. Through his contacts in the FBI in New York, Corso was introduced to two agents in Las Vegas. This Corso went prospecting for crime. Before long a friend in Las Vegas introduced Corso to two men, Joey Cusumano and Rick Rizzolo. Rizzolo ran a club called Crazy Horse Too. The men were in trouble, Corso's friend said, and needed tax advice. Corso recognized the opportunity. If the men were ensnared by the federal government, Corso could pretend to help them, while assisting the government.

The Crazy Horse Too was the Vegas imitation of the French cabaret Le Crazy Horse de Paris, which had opened in 1951 and was famed for the fact that its dancers were indistinguishable by height and breast size. The Vegas version, located in the center of the city, was packed with topless lap dancers and pulsed with ear-splitting music twenty-four hours a day. Lap dances started at twenty dollars, plus tip, with a three-song session in the "Champagne Room" running to at least one hundred dollars. "Corso was introduced as a guy who could do tax returns and give financial advice. Various dancers, bartenders, and waiters started using Corso to do their taxes. He substantially underreported their income, with the permission of the FBI. He wore a wire and recorded more than a thousand hours of conversations. Corso appeared to be just another louche Vegas character. The accountant who hangs out at a strip club, gambles, drinks. He started on the fringe of the underworld in Vegas and gradually worked his way inward."

Corso began to frequent an Italian restaurant called Casa di Amore, a place he understood to be favored by wiseguys. Corso tackled his role as a corrupt accountant and mob wannabe with gusto, fishing for stories and reveling in tales of violence and mayhem back east on the mean streets of New York. By August 2003, the FBI had assisted Corso in opening an accounting office of his own. The five-room suite Corso occupied was equipped with hidden cameras and microphones. Next door, in a hidden one-room office, the FBI installed video and audio monitors to follow everything that transpired in Corso's firm. Corso was paid $5,000 a month, plus expenses, in return for his cooperation.

It became clear that Corso was adept at undercover work. Claiming affiliation to New York's mob families, he met many of the self-proclaimed wiseguys in Vegas, including John Conti, who told Corso he was the "real head" of the mob in Vegas, and ran the town for the mafia. The fact that Conti would boast about his "connections" was itself proof of how far things had fallen for the mafia. Corso was a newcomer. No real wiseguy -- let alone the "head" of a city -- would have spoken to a stranger like Corso during the mob's heyday.

"Vegas was an 'open city,' by declaration of the mafia commission; fair game for any enterprising mobster," Oldham said. "No family ran the city, and none of the five families of New York had a territorial claim. Since Bugsy Siegel moved to Vegas in the forties to build the Flamingo Hotel, it had become a major money earner for organized crime. But the Vegas crime scene had been eclipsed by RICO, as it had in New York City. The hoods and hangers-on who Corso met in Las Vegas glorified the old days back in New York. In Vegas, the real thing had become ironic, an Elmore Leonard novel populated by a pack of superannuated putzes trying to convince each other how hard and tough they were. Mob Vegas it was called. The wiseguys there were about as authentic as the gondoliers poling down the fake canal in the Venetian Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip."

But there were still crimes being committed, no matter how desultory or disorganized the "mafia" was. Crime meant work for the hundreds of FBI agents assigned to investigate organized crime. By then, the infrastructure set up by the government to bring down the mafia outmatched the size of the challenge. "The FBI was using a twelve-gauge shotgun to get the rats and gnats eating osso bucca at Italianate restaurants. A guy like Corso outmatched anyone he would encounter in Vegas. Corso was smart, sophisticated, a mobster's dream come true. Corso knew how to evade taxes, launder money, raise money. As far as the FBI was concerned, Corso was panning for gold. Eventually, if he was patient and convincing, if fortune smiled on him, some sap with a criminal conspiracy sufficiently large or interesting to the FBI would fall into his trap. But legally, entrapment was tricky. There were moral questions about enticing a human being to become a criminal. There were also legal issues, with a defendant being able to claim the government had enticed them to commit a crime. But if a mouse walked into a trap, eyes wide open, was it the fault of the cheese? It was a matter of character and criminal predilection. It may not be the most attractive aspect of law enforcement but it was standard operating procedure. Corso was a loathsome human being, a thief, and a liar. He sold his soul to save his skin. But if he could help us make a huge case then it was worth doing a deal with such a man."


Retired in Las Vegas, like hundreds of other NYPD cops, former detectives Stephen Caracappa and Louis Eppolito lived in houses opposite each other on Silver Bear Way. Their gated community had been built on what was the edge of the city at the time, but by the turn of the millennium the subdivision had been swallowed up by the frenzied sprawl of one of the fastest-growing cities in the country. Despite the churning, ever-swelling population, Caracappa and Eppolito were able to find and become part of a community of self-exiled New Yorkers, many of whom enjoyed Las Vegas's snowless winters, endless sunshine, and supine morality, in which gambling was the engine of prosperity, prostitution widespread, and money, especially cash, worshipped without reservation. "'There are no second acts in American life,' F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote. It's an aphorism that is precisely wrong when it comes to the mob and cops in Las Vegas. There was nothing but second acts. The NYPD and mafia of Brooklyn and Staten Island in the eighties had been turned into a rabble of fats os pretending they were tough guys. Caracappa and Eppolito belonged to the Las Vegas chapter of the '10-13 Club' -- NYPD radio code for 'officer in distress.' Caracappa and Eppolito also operated inside the world of Mob Vegas."

Despite their proximity, the two men rarely socialized. Caracappa, ever industrious, ran a private investigator agency called Argus West. Associated with Argus, a successful New York City PI agency run by former Major Case detective Jack McCann, Caracappa found only occasional work. Over the years he did a few small things for Eddie Hayes, the attorney he had hired when Gaspipe Casso's allegations surfaced in the newspapers. Able to provide security for visiting celebrities, Caracappa was engaged by Home Box Office to protect Cher for a live concert at the MGM Grand; Eppolito was one of the nine men Caracappa used. When professional wrestlers The Rock and Triple H came to Las Vegas, Caracappa was hired to ensure their safety. "Caracappa was the brains. If muscle was needed for a job, Eppolito could be counted on, despite his age and health. But both were bottom feeding in Mob Vegas -- looking for the main chance."

Caracappa found a job as chief investigator at the Southern Nevada Women's Correctional Facility. As happened at the Major Case Squad in New York, Caracappa was noted for his vampiric sang froid and icy drop-dead stare. Intimidating and known for his intensity and demand for "respect," now he investigated cases involving women having sex with prison guards and getting pregnant. He also walked for miles every day, circling the streets of the gated community. "Few cops back in New York knew what had become of Caracappa. In New York, in OC circles, Caracappa was considered either wrongly accused or the guy who had got away with murder. Caracappa told his mother and brother and friends he was going to move to Nevada because his wife Monica had family there and there were jobs to be had. He kept up his New York City pistol license, saying he still lived at his mother's house on Staten Island. Legally Caracappa had to be a resident of New York state to carry a concealed handgun. In Vegas he was the silent guy keeping a close watch over everything Louie Eppolito did."

Predictably, Louis Eppolito essayed a more flamboyant life. Inhabiting a reinvented persona, Eppolito became author and auteur, a streetwise, foul-mouthed Brooklyn cop turned to mobbed-up third-string celebrity denizen of the desert. He was mentioned in the gossip pages on the Review-journal. The ink came infrequently, at the outermost edge of hangers-on and wannabes in local gossip columns, but it was enough for a retired detective to construct a character who was" somebody." Eppolito was noted for attending a performance of Harry Barlo, a retired policeman from Philadelphia who had taken up as a crooner said to "do justice" to Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett. Eppolito, as a notable at the free concert at a place called Greek Isles, was described as the author of Mafia Cop and a screenwriter.

Along the way, Eppolito and Caracappa got involved in the case of convicted murderer Sandy Murphy. In Las Vegas the case was extremely high profile. In 1995, a twenty-three-year-old Californian surfer came to Vegas and lost her life savings in one night at the casino. Sandy Murphy didn't turn around and go home. She stayed and started to hustle. She sold lingerie to strippers at a club called Cheetahs. She would dance herself, if the money was good enough. One night the son of a casino magnate came in with a wad of cash. "Ted Binion was worth seventy-three million bucks. He started to spend it on sexy Sandy Murphy. They began to live together. The only problem was that Binion was a heroin junkie with ties to organized crime. In 1998, Binion lost his casino license because of his mob connections. Binion took eight million dollars' worth of silver from his casino and had a friend of his bury the loot in Pahrump, an hour outside Vegas. The friend's name was Rick Tabish. The two men met in the bathroom at a Vegas restaurant called Piero's. By then Binion's heroin problem was out of control.

"Before long, Sandy Murphy and Tabish were having an affair. On September 17, 1998, Binion was found dead in his home, presumably of an overdose. The night after Binion's body was discovered, Tabish was seen digging in the desert near Pahrump. By the time police arrived, Tabish had Binion's silver loaded into his truck. At trial, Binion's attorney said his client had called him the night before he died. 'Take Sandy out of my will, if she doesn't kill me tonight,' the lawyer said Binion told him. 'If I'm dead, you'll know what happened.'''

Murphy and Tabish were arrested. Murphy professed her innocence. The pair were convicted of murder and theft of Binion's silver in 2000 after an eight-week trial, involving one hundred witnesses and national press coverage. William Fuller, an eccentric Irish mining millionaire backed an appeal by Murphy because of her Irish heritage, which resulted in the murder conviction being overturned -- much to the surprise of onlookers. Catching scent of Fuller's millions and the media frenzy, Eppolito saw an opportunity for a well-funded screenplay. He formed a committee of one, running a full-page ad declaring Murphy's innocence in a Las Vegas paper. Eppolito listed himself as the "spokesman," but he was the committee's only member. In prison, Caracappa was the only authority Murphy would deal with when she encountered a problem. The name of the group formed to attempt to set her free was "Citizens to Ensure Justice Is Done." The involvement of Caracappa and Eppolito in the case was typical of their activities in Las Vegas -- on the edges of the spotlight, with people in the middle of big trouble, but looking for a large score.

"For someone who was retired because of heart trouble, Eppolito remained ambitious and reckless. As soon as he moved out to Vegas he took the job of sergeant-at-arms at the Senior Citizens Club of Las Vegas. The club was a front for the social club of John Conti. Eppolito fit right into the scene. He was close to an older Gambino made man named Mike DiBari. Decades earlier, back in Brooklyn, DiBari had met Eppolito when he was the son of Fat the Gangster. By then DiBari was the bartender at the Senior Citizens Club of Las Vegas. Eppolito's job was voluntary, honorary, but he loved the work. It gave him the chance to spend all his time hanging out with hoods -- finally."

After his brushes with Hollywood fame, with one line as Fat Andy in Goodfellas ("How ya doin', buddy?") and a few nonspeaking bit parts afterward, Eppolito gradually gave up on a career as an actor, and came to consider himself a writer. Turn of Faith was a straight-to-video feature film made from an original script written by Eppolito. The lead role, a dirty police officer named Joey De Carlo, was played by former lightweight world champion boxer Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini. Mancini was a lightweight actor, as well. In the movie, the cop's best friends are a mobbed-up murderer and a priest. De Carlo's idea of stalwart law enforcement work is to give his gangster buddy tips on police investigations, help him beat a man in an alley, and bury tapes with incriminating evidence.

"Eppolito played a 'limp dick' union official named Victor Bruno. Safe to say he was never going to thank the Academy. His performance was so bad it was alarming. Eppolito was grossly overweight, mustachioed with a hambone jaw and hambone acting skills. He had a canny way of talking fast and seeming slow-witted at the same time. Everyone in the movie cursed all the time. 'Get your fucking hands off me, fuckface,' was a typical piece of repartee -- and that was a priest talking.

"The moral universe the movie created was perverse. The cop character of De Carlo has been raised by a mobster union boss nicknamed 'Big Philly.' Charles Durning, a good actor, played the part in the lamest performance of his career. Just as in Mafia Cop with Fat the Gangster, this father figure was cruel, conniving, and murderous. But no matter how brutally his 'father figure' behaves the cop stands by him. De Carlo the cop is only too happy to help the gangster-until, drum roll, Big Philly betrays the cop's best buddy, also a gangster. In the end, the hero cop wants to quit the force because he is insufficiently admired for severing his links with organized crime. 'I want out,' he shouts. 'Sixteen years I've given to this job. Sixteen years I've banged my head against the wall trying to be a good cop, trying to be an honest cop, and for what?'"

Going direct to DVD, Turn of Faith did not change the direction of Eppolito's life. As time passed, he slid further into failure and obscurity. His claims to fame growing increasingly tenuous, Eppolito found new ways to associate himself with celebrity. In addition to his occasional work as a bodyguard to stars, he set himself up as screenwriter for hire. He was hired to write a comedy about a homeless bag lady, supposedly to star Debbie Reynolds. Jack Gordon, the former husband of La ToyaJackson, engaged in talks with Eppolito to co-author a book about his life. Gordon, a self-styled entertainment impresario who was also dredging the sludge of society, had encouraged La ToyaJackson to perform in soft-core porn and pose for Playboy magazine. Gordon's clients included John Wayne Bobbitt, the man whose own fleeting claim to fame was that his infidelities had led his wife, Lorena, to cut off his penis as he slept. A fan and friend of Eppolito's on the Vegas film scene was a "B" grade movie director who has worked under the pseudonym Cash Flagg and directed horror movies like Rat Phink a Boo Boo before turning to pornography and films titled Sexual Satanic Awareness, Debbie Does Las Vegas, and Sex Rink.

In early 2002, Eppolito was introduced through a mortgage broker refinancing his home to a former Las Vegas call girl named Jane McCormick. The mortgage broker was friends with McCormick. He told Eppolito she had been" on the arm" of Frank Sinatra for thirteen years as a paid escort. Her life would make a great movie, the broker said. Eppolito was interested. The two talked on the phone. McCormick was living in Minnesota. She had a small domestic cleaning service in St. Paul. She sent Eppolito her unpublished autobiography. McCormick's life had been tough, involving more than her share of tragedy and suffering. He called back a week later. McCormick recalled that Eppolito said it was the most compelling story that he had ever read. Eppolito told her he wanted to meet her.

"I would love to write a movie about you," Eppolito said. ''I'm sure it would be a blockbuster."

"A week later, I flew to Las Vegas," McCormick remembered. "Lou's home was gorgeous. Large Romanesque pillars were in the front. There was a three-car garage. The furniture was leather and silk, plush and expensive, with paintings of beautiful women on the walls. He had a flat-screen television, large entertainment center, and black leather reclining chair. The kitchen was peach-colored, with marble counters and a large island in the middle with a sliding glass door to the back. In the yard, there was a stainless-steel barbecue on the patio, and eight-foot tall Greek statues, and a swimming pool. He had a putting green even though he never played golf.

"I thought it was a beautiful, beautiful home. He showed me around the grounds like a cock on the walk. He was proud. He said, 'You know I didn't get all of this by being a cop in New York. I got it by doing movies and writing movie scripts.' He had a bullmastiff, a huge dog named Caesar, he was telling not to slobber on my pantsuit. We sat on the patio. I had a list of questions. He said he was well-known. He showed me his writing room. He had converted part of the garage into an office. The room was covered with wall-to-wall photographs of Louis with movie stars and directors. There was a picture with Robert De Niro. In the photo of Louis with Martin Scorsese, Scorsese's arm was around him. I was impressed. I thought he was big time."

McCormick spent the whole day with Eppolito. He said she was one of the most interesting people he had ever met. "I think you have a compelling story," Eppolito told her. "I've met a lot of people in my life. I've seen a lot of tragic things in my work as a police officer in New York. But I've never met one person who has had so many horrific, traumatic things happen and survived it and not been committed to an insane asylum."

Recalled McCormick, "He didn't mention money until four days later. Finally he said he would write the script for only seventy-five thousand dollars. He would have it done in three months. He guaranteed I would be happy with it. He said that even though he was a man he had feelings and he could sense what I had been through. I told him I could never come up with that kind of money. Not in a million years. Lou said he had come to like me in the past few days. He said he really wanted to see this happen. 'Your story needs to be told,' he said. 'Your story can help other women avoid the life of prostitution.' Louis said he really felt for me. 'Can you handle forty-five thousand?' he asked in a real gentle way."

A speed talker, with a flim-flam explanation for the financing of films, Eppolito told McCormick she would get all her money back, plus large profits, for the investment of $45,000. According to the Writers Guild of America, Eppolito said, the minimum that a feature film script could sell for was $125,000. He told her that her story would sell for more -- between $165,000 and $180,000. All of that money would be hers, Eppolito said with a gap-tooth smile. She would also get back the money she'd paid him as a fee. The logic was bewilderingly circular. McCormick was unsophisticated and entranced by the chance to achieve fame and fortune. When the film sold, she would be compensated in full, he said, leaving the impression that her fee was somehow refundable. McCormick didn't know where to begin asking questions.

In addition, Eppolito continued, she would be paid $50,000 to be on the set to assist the actress playing the part of her life. Eppolito suggested Angelina Jolie as the star of the film. McCormick was hoping for Reese Witherspoon, because her looks more closely matched her own when she was young. Eppolito's deal made little sense to McCormick, but he and his family seemed sincere and trustworthy. McCormick had never read a contract for writing a screenplay, let alone the confusing document Eppolito presented to her. Eppolito gave McCormick a signed copy of Mafia Cop. He inscribed it, "I hope we make a great movie of a story that must be told. You are a great woman. I am so proud to call you a friend. May God make all your dreams come true. Love you, Lou Eppolito."

"I was sold," McCormick recalled. "I believed him. I thought he had a soft heart. I didn't think he would ever lie to me. He told me about his life as a cop. He said he had once found a baby in a trash can, and how all the cops were crying about 'Baby Angel.' Every other word was a swear word but he made you think he was telling the truth. He saw himself as a famous writer. He acted like he was a famous writer. He wanted me to believe he was already a famous writer. Deep down I am sure he believed it all. He loved the arts. He wanted to be Martin Scorsese. He said we were going to walk down the red carpet together. He lived in a fantasy world. I couldn't resist."

McCormick returned to Minnesota determined to mortgage her house to pay Eppolito. She had an excellent credit rating. The bank granted the loan within days. She sent a check to Eppolito the next day. For months, McCormick corresponded with Eppolito and traveled back and forth to Las Vegas. During one trip, Eppolito asked her if she would like to see his "favorite thing in life." He bent under his desk and opened a combination lock. He proudly took out a gold handgun. He talked about how his father, Fat the Gangster, beat him terribly as a child and said Eppolito was ashamed that his father was in the mafia. Eppolito showed McCormick pictures of himself as Mr. New York, posing in a bathing suit; a blownup photo was hung on the wall. Eppolito told her about the trouble he had been in with the NYPD in 1984. Eppolito told McCormick to watch Goodfellas. He described to her the scene in which he played Fat Andy. His wife, Fran, was in the scene in the restaurant. She was in the back of the restaurant, in a booth, blond at the time. McCormick rented the movie when she got home and watched it three times in a week. ''It was a great, scary, horrible, cold-blooded movie. Louis said he helped Scorsese with the movie -- to make it legitimately believable. I didn't think at the time what that meant."

Eppolito titled the script he wrote "I Never Met a Stranger: The Jane McCormick Story." The first draft was replete with misspellings, terrible grammar, and typos. McCormick was shocked and appalled. Eppolito responded that spelling words properly had nothing to do with selling a movie. Producers didn't care about spelling, grammar, or simple competence in presentation, he said. Eppolito put his wife, Fran, on the phone with McCormick to type in the corrections. He told McCormick he always wrote a part for himself in every script so he could be an actor in the movie -- like Alfred Hitchcock. In the first draft he wrote a scene with a fat man taking the character of Jane McCormick as a prostitute up to his hotel room and passing out before they had sex. "He wanted to be the fat guy running around the set with Angelina Jolie half naked -- living out his wildest dreams."

During the rewrite sessions in Las Vegas, McCormick met Eppolito's neighbor, Stephen Caracappa. He slipped through Eppolito's door without ringing the doorbell, showing himself in and walking through to the back patio.

"So you're the famous Janie I've been hearing about," Caracappa said.

"I don't know how famous I am," she replied.

Caracappa laughed.

Small talk was exchanged about the old days, when Vegas was Vegas, and McCormick had been Sinatra's escort. Caracappa said he loved the heat of the desert. "I thought the poor man was a cancer patient. He was so terribly thin. He was real quiet. After ten minutes he left. Louis told me that they had been partners. He showed me a photograph of them sitting together at a desk in New York. I thought it was weird that Steve lived across the street from Louis.

"You guys were cops together in New York, and now he lives next door to you in Vegas?" McCormick asked. "You must have been close."

Eppolito smiled. "Like brothers," he said.

"I Never Met a Stranger" was structured as a biopic, but the effort was amateurish, the dialogue wooden. Characters were one-dimensional. Transitions were disjointed, both predictable and improbable. Eppolito refused to do further rewrites. He would do no further work until the movie sold, he said. Eppolito had little idea how to write a screenplay, but he understood how to prey upon the frailties of a damaged and credulous woman desperate to tell her cautionary tale.

"I Never Met a Stranger" opens in the cabin of an airplane as it approaches Las Vegas. Two women are sitting beside each other: Jane McCormick and her longtime companion, Patti. "In the background we hear Wayne Newton singing an upbeat tune," Eppolito wrote. The camera closes in on the McCormick character. "She's a very beautiful, well-kept woman approaching sixty years old. She looks much younger than her age because of her flawless skin and well-groomed manicured hands and beautifully styled blond hair." Patti, likewise, is "a tall beautiful professional woman." The Pilot comes on the intercom to announce the descent into Las Vegas. "The temperature is a hot 99 degrees and zero humidity," the Pilot reports. "The local Las Vegas time is the bewitching hour of midnight. I have to tell you that because as you know you won't see any clocks in the casino."

The screenplay proceeds in this fashion for more than one hundred pages. In the first act, in Vegas as a tourist, the character "Jane," also known as "Janie," encounters a young woman sitting in a bar in the Sahara who happens, at that moment, to be in the middle of being convinced by a pimp-like boyfriend to turn a trick. "Jane looks towards the young couple and sees the beautiful young girl appears to be in distress," Eppolito wrote. "She can overhear their conversation." The ensuing exchange of dialogue typifies Eppolito's work.

''It's gonna be a piece of cake," the boyfriend says. "Besides with a body like you have, he'll cum in two minutes and it will be all over."

"I don't know if I can do it," the young woman says. ''It makes me feel dirty."

"You told me you loved me but you sure aren't showing it," the boyfriend replies. "Now is not the time to find your morals. I told you the first one would be hard and after that it will be downhill all the way. Meanwhile with your good looks and body we'll make a fortune. In no time we'll be able to get married."

"I love you," the young woman says, "and I'll do anything for you -- even this."

The boyfriend has already lined up a customer who is about to meet the girl at the bar. He departs to gamble, offering a parting piece of wisdom about becoming a prostitute. "Trust me, baby, you might even end up liking it."

Janie intervenes. She says she wants to talk to the young woman. "I know you very well," she says. ''It was me sitting on that stool forty years ago." She tells the girl what they have in common: broken home, sexually abusive father, the long forlorn search for love ending in being turned out as a hooker. "The same thing happened to me, and I never told anybody about it, but I will now. I'll tell you my story."

"Why would you want to tell me?" the young woman asks.

"'Cause it could change your life," Janie softly says, "and trust me, if I had someone sitting next to me forty years ago I would have listened. I would have listened good."

Flashing back decades, we hear Janie narrate a tale that takes her to Las Vegas in the early sixties and the age of the cocktail generation and the Rat Pack. The plot follows Jane as she descends from tragedy to tragedy as a child and young woman, enduring sexual abuse, rape, spousal abuse. Her two young children are taken away from her to her in-laws, May and Clarence Heck. Trying to earn enough money to get them back, Jane turns to prostitution. Her pimp boyfriend, the handsome young Tyler Moore, is stereotypically manipulative and cruel.

The character Janie has an ambivalent relationship with prostitution. The money is great. She moves in high-roller circles, swanning through casinos and hotel lobbies. She is also despondent and desperate. Sexy and carefree in one scene, in the next she is suicidal. Eppolito the writer flits breezily back and forth between glamour and despair without considering the contradiction or the implications for the character named Jane McCormick. In its psychological dimensions, "I Never Met a Stranger" was reminiscent of Mafia Cop. In his memoir, the character of Detective Louis Eppolito careened back and forth between cop camaraderie and the glorification of organized crime. Beaten mercilessly as a boy by his father Fat the Gangster, Eppolito professed admiration for his father's sense of honor and respect. As a detective in the Six-Three, Eppolito thrilled when he shoved the mouth of a double-barreled shotgun down the throat of a wiseguy. The actions did not belong to a complex character, but to a man animated by self-pity. Memory, conscience, taking responsibility for one's own deeds -- none of these elements were evident in "I Never Met a Stranger" or in his book Mafia Cop.

The script reaches its apogee one night in the Sands lounge when one of Janie's friends introduces her to Frank Sinatra.

"How you doin' baby?" Sinatra says.

Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr. invite Jane up to a suite in the Sands.

"The Rat Pack is in the room and a group of call girls, mostly Jane's friends, are walking around the room in spike high heels, their panties and bras," Eppolito wrote. "There is music loudly playing and champagne being poured for everyone. Frank walks over to Jane and takes her hand. She puts her drink down and he leads her to his bedroom."

A montage of scenes follows, with Sinatra's "The Summer Wind" playing in the "b.g." "I was living a life few people could dream of," Jane says in voice over. "Can anybody imagine being part of the Rat Pack!" In one scene, Jane and her girlfriends are sitting at a table in a Vegas lounge. "We see a number of tuxedo pants and patent leather shoes indicating that there are a number of the Rat Pack on stage," Eppolito wrote.

In real life, McCormick convinced herself the completed script for "I Never Met a Stranger" would bring her fame and fortune. Eppolito had promised her as much. In their written agreement, Eppolito undertook to use his contacts in show business to help McCormick sell the script. He told McCormick that the Showtime channel was considering the script and would get back to him soon. HBO, Movie of the Week, Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini, who had been involved in producing Turn of Faith, were all supposed to be interested. McCormick contacted Mancini. Boom Boom told her that the movie would have to be rewritten extensively.

"I didn't like the script," McCormick said. "I felt like I was being conned." McCormick was told the script wasn't right and that Louis Eppolito was a struggling writer. "I got depressed. I started calling him up, after I had a few drinks, to cuss him out." McCormick now felt she'd been duped. Eppolito didn't have the movie industry connections he'd led McCormick to believe. "I said I had to declare bankruptcy because of him. Louis got angry. 'Don't call me when you've been drinking,' he said. 'You don't know who you're dealing with.'''

That was certainly true. But it was also true Eppolito did not always know who he was dealing with, either.
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Re: The Brotherhoods: The True Story of Two Cops Who Murdere

Postby admin » Wed Jun 18, 2014 2:20 am



By the fall of 2004 the fallen accountant Steven Corso had insinuated himself deeply into the inner workings of the organized crime underworld in Las Vegas with the FBI tracking each move. Dining often at Casa di Amore, in a matter of months he had become a fixture on the scene. Corso's main contact was a Bonanno associate who ran an escort agency. Convinced of Corso's promise as a financial advisor to the Vegas mob, the Bonanno associate introduced Corso as being "with Jerry of the Fulton Fish Market." The reference was to Jerry Chilli, a Bonanno mobster convicted of a wide variety of racketeering crimes over three decades in the mob, including forgery, loan-sharking, attempted manslaughter, and conspiring to sell $300,000 worth of stolen salmon fillets. Chilli was known to operate out of New York City's Fulton Fish Market, a venerable open-air market on the Lower East Side with every kind of fresh fish and seafood for sale -- notoriously corrupt and later shut down by the government, it moved to Hunt's Point in the South Bronx. Wily enough to run a credit card scam while in prison in Florida during the nineties, Chilli had relocated to Florida but had interests in Vegas.

Dropping Chilli's name had a warming effect. In the mafia, "being with Chilli" meant that Corso was under the protection of the mafia. Corso was proposed and accepted as a member of the Senior Citizens Club of Las Vegas. Corso became a regular at the club's Thursday lunches, where attendance was required. He even cooked lunch there. Corso wore a recording device to capture his conversations with hundreds of people moving in suspect circles.

In October 2004, Corso was approached with a proposition. Corso was now tight with two older Gambinos: Mike DiBari, who claimed he had once been a close friend of John Gotti, and another man named John Frate. DiBari suggested to Corso that he meet their friend "Lou." DiBari appeared to be close to Lou. DiBari told Corso that "Lou" was working on a movie. "Lou" had written a screenplay and was now looking to raise money. Corso had a reputation as a man with access to money, especially illegitimate money. "Lou" was a retired New York detective who had moved to Las Vegas and gone into the movie making business. DiBari was to make the connection.

"Lou is one of us," Corso was told. "You can deal with him."

Until "Lou" was mentioned by DiBari and Frate, Corso had never heard of Eppolito, Mafia Cop, or the newspaper headlines generated by Casso's confession in 1994. In the time since he had become a cooperating witness, Corso had collected scores of such names, and there was a routine followed. Corso notified Las Vegas FBI Special Agent Kevin Sheehan, who was running Corso, and asked if he wanted him to meet with "Lou." As it happened, Sheehan was friendly with Las Vegas DEA Agent Chris Moran. Unlike New York City, where interagency rivalries were blood sport, law enforcement officials in Las Vegas often liked and trusted each other. Because of their good relations, Special Agent Sheehan knew that the DEA office in Vegas was surveilling two retired NYPD detectives as part of an investigation being run by the Eastern District of New York and that Louis Eppolito was one of the targets of the investigation. Moran had pulled the phone records on the NYPD detectives' telephone lines, and attempted surveillance. Nothing of significance was found. But when Sheehan told Moran about Corso's contact with a retired NYC cop named "Lou" who was closely associated with Las Vegas organized crime figures, Moran passed the information on to the New York office of the DEA.

"I had been getting antsy about the Vegas side of the case," Oldham recalled. "I didn't believe the case would be made the way it should be made unless we went out to Vegas and set up on Steve and Louie ourselves."

In the offices of the Eastern District on Pierrepont Plaza, Robert Henoch knew that what Corso offered was potentially a huge break. For months, he and Oldham had prepared to take the case to trial and fight on the subject of the statute of limitations. The last known crime committed by Caracappa and Eppolito had been the murder of Eddie Lino in November 1990. Caracappa and Eppolito had continued to receive their monthly payment until Casso's capture in 1993, which amounted to evidence of their ongoing conspiracy, but otherwise there were no further crimes with which to charge them. The two NYPD officers had left New York for Las Vegas in the early to mid-nineties, absenting themselves from the geographical center of the mafia. Had they committed any crimes in their new surroundings? DEA Agent Moran's investigation had not revealed any. Oldham and Henoch recognized that using Corso could alter the entire case. If he were successfully introduced to Caracappa and Eppolito under the guise of facilitating illegal ventures, it could well be that "the cops" would incriminate themselves. Corso had been an excellent snitch for the FBI. The question was whether he could convince Caracappa and Eppolito to let down their guard.

Oldham and Henoch wanted to think through the implications carefully, and not rush into an ill-conceived sting. Meetings were held. Word was passed from New York to the Las Vegas FBI agents to get Corso to wait. In the meantime, John Frate and his son, Mike, met for a lunch with Corso. They were eager to make the connection with their friend "Lou." The Frates handed Corso a manila envelope, which Corso opened. Inside was an inch-thick movie script titled "Murder in Youngstown." The film Eppolito wanted to make was based in the crime-ridden streets of Youngstown, the same working-class Ohio city where Eppolito's flop Turn of Faith had been set. The Frates wanted to know if Corso might help Eppolito raise the funds necessary to make the film. Corso followed his instructions from the FBI and responded that he had a "problem" meeting with Eppolito, given his past as an NYPD detective. Corso was understood to be an accountant for underworld figures. Associating with a police officer, even a retired one, was bad for business, and potentially dangerous for a man in the business of crime. The Frates reassured Corso about their close friend. "Lou was one of us," the elder Frate said, referring to their days back in New York, when Eppolito served the NYPD. "You can deal with him. If anyone has anything to be fearful about, it would be him -- with his background."

"The way cooperators often work, we flip a guy and then insert him into an investigation," Oldham recalled. "In Corso's case it was the opposite. The investigation of Caracappa and Eppolito was going forward. We were going to prosecute, come what may. We had surveillance up on Caracappa and Eppolito but it wasn't yielding anything. Frankly, I wasn't convinced that the Vegas DEA was putting much effort into the case. Corso stumbled into it. Having a CW like Corso, who we didn't plant, was unusual and a potent possibility. Eppolito was out trolling around the OC world for money. The relationship was Eppolito's idea, not Corso's, not ours. He wasn't being trapped by us, or 'entrapped' in legal lingo. Eppolito was constructing his own trap.

"But there were substantial risks in putting Corso with Eppolito. If Corso suggested criminal enterprises, all Eppolito had to do was say he wouldn't get involved in such matters and our prosecution would be in serious jeopardy. According to the rules of evidence, the government is required to provide defendants with all relevant material relating to their case. The rules include material that is exculpatory. All Eppolito needed to do was refuse Corso and there was a huge chance he could establish the 'withdrawal' defense. If Corso asked Eppolito to launder drug dealer money, Eppolito could state he would never do such a thing. If Corso asked if Eppolito would get him drugs, or hookers, Eppolito would be on tape saying no. If Corso tried to get Caracappa involved, Eppolito could say that he would never suggest such a thing to his old friend. Eppolito could say he and Caracappa were honest, decent men, retired police officers sworn to uphold the law, and that the idea they would take dirty money or deal narcotics was outrageous and ridiculous -- and the whole thing would be on tape. The stakes were high for us. Eppolito could save himself, or sink himself. Henoch gave the green light. We all crossed our fingers."

Within days, word reached Corso from FBI Special Agent Sheehan. "You're good to go," he was told. A meeting between Corso and Eppolito was arranged for ten days later. Corso drove to a gas station in Las Vegas and met John Frate. He followed Frate through the Spanish Springs area of Las Vegas to Eppolito's mini mansion on Silver Bear Way. Corso was wearing a wire. When Corso arrived he was introduced to Louis's wife, Fran, and his two daughters, Andrea and Deanna. The discussion turned to business. Eppolito suggested they retire to another room out of the earshot of others. They went to Eppolito's office. The walls were adorned with dozens of vanity photographs of Eppolito smiling with celebrities. There were brass-on-wood police plaques bearing the NYPD detective shield, certificates of appreciation, a framed copy of the cover of Mafia Cop, and a letter from Hugh Mo, the former deputy police commissioner of trials who had heard the charges that Eppolito had leaked intelligence to the Gambinos in 1984. Eppolito's collection of knives was displayed in a glass case, some worth as much as $5,000. Two safes were packed with 113 guns. The arsenal included .45s, .44s, .357s, .38s, .32s, .22s, .25s, .380s, 10mms, gold-plated revolvers, Lugers, Derringers, double-barreled shotguns, and semiautomatic pistols. "Mafia Cop, Louis Eppolito" was engraved on the side of one pistol.

Seated behind his massive faux mahogany desk, Eppolito told Corso he needed further funding to make "Youngstown," as he called his project. Eppolito claimed to have already raised $3.5 million. He needed $1.5 million more. Eppolito told Corso that a group of investors had pledged their personal assets with the Bank of America. The idea confused Corso. He had not read the script but it struck him as highly improbable that anyone with the means to fund such a project would be idiotic enough to gamble their financial security on the outcome of an unmade movie written by a failure like Eppolito. Corso asked for particulars. They called Eppolito's producer on the speakerphone.

"Why would an individual pledge his assets and risk losing it all if the movie didn't make money, or wasn't made?" Corso asked.

There was no good answer. From a business perspective, the deal made no sense. Under normal circumstances, if Corso weren't acting the role of a sophisticated accountant dumb enough to fall for Eppolito's preposterous proposal, the conversation would have ended then and there. But Corso was playing Eppolito, seeing where events led.

A second meeting was planned for the next day. The location was Corso's office. FBI cameras and recording devices capturing the encounter showed Eppolito proudly giving Corso a copy of his book, Mafia Cop. Eppolito said he had mastered a question that had mystified generations of producers and auteurs. Eppolito had a "foolproof formula" for making money on movies. All that was required was for Eppolito to stick to the formula and the money and accolades would roll in. Eppolito didn't describe the formula.

Corso feigned fascination.

On November 21, the two men met again at a Vegas Italian restaurant. Eppolito was in an expansive mood as they waited to be shown to their table. Eppolito told Corso about his supposedly burgeoning business selling his skills as a screenwriter to unsuspecting souls like Jane McCormick. As they stood at the bar waiting for their table, Eppolito told Corso how he worked deals with people who wanted to turn their life story into a movie. His price was $75,000 for a script, minimum. The deal was open to anyone, regardless of the nature of the story or how the funds to pay Eppolito were obtained. "I says, 'Put up seventy-five thousand dollars, I don't care where you get it from, and you and I will be partners.'''

The pair was joined by a client of Corso's who had funded other investments. The client had no idea Corso was wearing a wire and cooperating with a federal investigation. Over dinner, the conversation turned to the prospect of creating a film production company for "Youngstown." Instead of raising $1.5 million, Corso suggested that the amount of money being sought ought to jump to the whole $5 million. There were a couple of ways such a sum might be raised. A public offering of securities for Eppolito's movie might work, Corso said. Corso's "client" had a publicly listed company. Eppolito's existing corporate entity was called Deanntone Productions, a name created by merging the names of his children Deanna, Andrea, and Tony. The entity could be merged into the public company, and the reconstituted corporation would issue and sell shares of stock. Eppolito would be paid $250,000 a year in salary. Eppolito would retain a controlling interest in excess of 51 percent of the equity. Friends of the founders would be able to receive small amounts of restricted shares in the company in order to participate in the windfall. Such an arrangement was typical, Corso said, one of the benefits that befell a man in Eppolito's privileged position. Eppolito said he had friends who might be interested. In particular, a former "police partner" of his, named "Steve," might want to participate in such a moneymaking enterprise.

Eppolito lived far beyond his means, it was apparent to Corso. A successful screenwriter, in Eppolito's own mind, entitled to the finer things in life, he had to survive on his $70,000 NYPD pension and whatever money he could squeeze out of marks like Jane McCormick. The putting green in the backyard, the flat-screen television, the gold jewelry, and grotesque collection of knives and guns, were costly ostentation. Corso knew he appeared to be the answer to Eppolito's woes. Over a period of months, Corso ingratiated himself into every aspect of Eppolito's life. Just as Eppolito had played McCormick, preying upon her fantasy of fame and fortune, Corso played Eppolito.

"Likewise, of course, Eppolito was conning Corso. Eppolito was trying to pull Corso in, using whatever means he could -- mob stories, police stories, any and all bullshit he could come up with. Back and forth the fantasies went. With Corso's expenses covered by the FBI, he bought meals and flashed wads of cash, consciously creating the impression he was rich and held the keys to greater riches."

Closely monitoring developments in Las Vegas, Henoch, Oldham, and investigators in New York held a conference call with Corso. He was asked a series of detailed questions regarding Eppolito. Corso described Eppolito's house and office. He told the agents the type of cell phone Eppolito used and the many weapons Eppolito had on display in the house, including his knife collection. Corso explained Eppolito's screenplay scam and the fee of $75,000. Corso was asked if he thought Eppolito might be interested in obtaining the desired $75,000 if it came from drug money, or a high-ranking drug boss. Would Eppolito accept the money? Corso felt strongly that Eppolito wanted the money, regardless of where it came from. Corso told the federal agents he was confident Eppolito would go for the scheme very quickly. Eppolito was to be told he could have the money fast, within forty-eight hours, if he agreed. The con man ex-cop was about to be conned by law enforcement.

In the plan devised to test Eppolito's legal and moral mettle, Eppolito would be offered the chance to knowingly launder illegally acquired drug money as a means of getting investment in his movie project. [1]The FBI coached Corso to put the proposal to Eppolito concisely. Corso, a skilled liar, would easily handle the deception. Eppolito, with a weak heart and a long history of corruption, would be presented with a tissue of lies, and have the chance to participate -- or refuse to participate.

Corso laid the foundations of the proposal at his next meeting. Corso told Eppolito that he had found a potential investor in Eppolito's screenplay venture. On December 7, 2004, Corso and Eppolito convened in Eppolito's office, surrounded by the photographs from Eppolito's brushes with Hollywood fame and NYPD infamy. The offer, Corso told Eppolito, was from a Florida drug dealer looking for investments. The drug dealer was trying to transform drug money into legitimate ventures. Believing his own deceptions, Eppolito failed to see the larger deception engulfing him.

"The seventy-five," Corso said with a sigh, "it's going to be here next Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or Tuesday." He laughed. "It's either going to be cash or wire. You don't care, right?"

"No," Eppolito said.

"Do you care what someone does for a living?" Corso asked.

"I don't give a fuck about nothing," Eppolito said.

"I think the same way you do," Corso said.

"Here's what I tell people," Eppolito said. "As long as you're not asking me to do it, if this is the biggest drug dealer in the United States, I don't give a fuck. But don't ask me to transport drugs for it. I don't do that. That's what I tell somebody. If you said to me, 'Lou, I want to introduce you to Jack Smith, he wants to invest in this film.' And Smith says, 'Seventy-five thousand comes in a fucking shoe box.' That's fine with me. I don't care. I've had people give me money before. That doesn't bother me, and I don't question people."

"Right, okay," Corso said.

Eppolito told Corso about an investment in a film project he had previously received from a Vegas wiseguy named "Mike" who used to drive for Joe Bonanno back in New York City. "I don't give a fuck, like I said, about that. I know him. I respect him. He respects me. I have a thing, as stupid as it is, I don't put my hand in your pocket, and I don't like it when it's done to me."

''I'm not putting the money in," Corso said.

''I'm talking about for your end," Eppolito explained, referring to the sum Corso could expect to make for putting the Florida drug dealer together with Eppolito. Brokering such a deal, it was understood in the mob, required the go-between to be compensated. Eppolito said that the wiseguy Mike and his son had presented him with $25,000 in cash.

"Mike came up, 'Ba-boom, here,'" Eppolito said.

"Cash in the cardboard box?" Corso asked.

"Yeah. When I sell the movie, the first day that they yell 'Action' on the set, they have to give me a check. So let's say I sell the movie for one hundred and twenty-five thousand. I give you back your twenty-five thousand dollars, and I give you twenty-five percent of what I made. So you make a hundred percent on your money."

"Okay," Corso said, not contesting Eppolito's misrepresentations, or the wild improbability of "Youngstown" or any Eppolito-written project being made.

During the preparation of Corso for his dealings with Eppolito, Henoch had been careful to instruct Corso to not try to massage conversations to get Eppolito to say specific things. Cooperators too often concerned themselves with trying to satisfy the terms of a criminal statute to ensure that the target would be convicted -- and that the CW would be rewarded. The practice was foolhardy, Henoch believed, practically and legally. If a CW attempted to steer the target to say preordained words, suspicions could easily be aroused. Juries would be less inclined to credit an investigation that looked to have stacked the cards against an accused. Let the conversation take place naturally, Henoch had told Corso. Don't talk too much, Henoch had said, an instruction an inveterate talker like Corso found hard to obey.

Corso broached the subject of the investor's mob connections by insinuation. "This guy is very quiet," Corso said of the Florida drug dealer. "He's an Italian guy. You don't mind dealing with Italians, right? He's a strong guy."

"I don't care who it is," Eppolito said. "Listen to me, I got people from the Gambino family that call me all the time. They say, 'Louie, we have money.' I says, 'It's not a question about your money, it's you don't have enough to make the movie. You want to give me three hundred and sixty thousand?'"

"I'll take it," Corso said, picking up on Eppolito's thought. "If you want to give me three million I'll take it."

"I'll make the movie," Eppolito said. "But it's not enough just to say to me you have money. Especially when they have the mentality that they have all their lives. It's always a scam, always a scam."

Eppolito then told Corso a story about a Gambino wiseguy from upstate New York. Eppolito said he had known the wiseguy since he had been a teenager living in Brooklyn taking long drives with his gangster father as they made the rounds of Gambino social clubs. The wiseguy was now sixty-five, nearly a decade older than Eppolito, but still an earner. "A hustler, not a boss or a capo," Eppolito said.

"That would be called a soldier?" Corso asked.

"An earner," Eppolito said. "He's out there doing whatever he's got to do."

"You can educate me about this stuff," Corso said.

"He's got more clout than other guys because he brings in money. You know what I mean? He might be scamming, he might be doing this, he might be doing that."

Eppolito said the wiseguy called to make an arrangement to meet. But the mobster only said "Hello, it's me," and then fell silent. Corso laughed at Eppolito's imitation of a paranoid gangster on the phone. The mobster told Eppolito he wouldn't talk on the phone, Eppolito told Corso, because he didn't know who might be listening on a wiretap. "I said, 'What are you doing that's so bad nobody could know? If they're bugging my phone, congratulations, they get my wife talking all fucking day.' I don't talk on the phone."

Eppolito imagined himself a raconteur. He enjoyed telling Corso about New York mob culture, a subject he was an expert on. Eppolito told Corso he had made an appointment to meet the Gambino made man at the Bellagio, the landmark Las Vegas hotel with a vast fountain in front that is claimed to be "the most ambitious, commanding water feature ever conceived." Eppolito's wife, Fran, didn't want him to go. "She said, 'You don't even know if you're going to get killed.' I said, 'Who's going to bother me? I don't bother no one.''' According to Eppolito, the two men shared the bear hug and two-cheek kisses customary for greetings in the mafia. The avuncular gangster told Eppolito he had come up in a conversation at Puglia's, an Italian restaurant on Hester Street between Mott and Mulberry streets in Little Italy in lower Manhattan.

Corso hung on Eppolito's every word. "He says, 'I ran into a good friend of yours. He said you're looking for money.' I says, 'I'm always looking for money.' He says, 'Tell me what the thing is, and let me know what you need because these people have money.' I says, 'I need to raise three-and-a-half-four million dollars on a script I have here.'"

Eppolito paused and asked if Corso had taken the time to read "Murder in Youngstown." Corso admitted he had not. "I've been busy," he said.

"That's all right," Eppolito said. "I says to him, 'I got a script I can do in Vegas, it's three-and-a-half million. It's not as big as 'Youngstown.' 'Youngstown,' we have a better shot of making more money, but this shot here, we have a shot of selling this movie in Europe alone for five. That's only one group of people that's in Europe. I says, 'We sell that to fucking Europe, you're probably looking at five to seven million dollars.' Everyone who can't come here wants to see Las Vegas on the screen. There's shots of Vegas, the hotels. That's all second-unit directing. You can send out one guy and his crew, get in a car at night and go down the Strip and take both sides of the street and use, as you want, from those clips, you know what I mean?"

Eppolito went on. "He says, 'I'll give you six hundred thousand tomorrow.' I says, 'Where do we fucking fall off the train? Three-and-a-half million I need. Six hundred thou doesn't go.' He says, 'I wanna come in. I'll take a percentage.' I says, 'That is so fucked up.''' Eppolito explained the basics of movie financing, as Eppolito understood them, to the Gambino wiseguy. The investor with the majority share was paid first and foremost. Minority stakeholders were the last to see any profits. "I says, 'I want the people to make money, but whatever it is with me I want to make money.'"

"Was he insulted that you didn't want to take his money?" Corso asked.

"He just doesn't understand," Eppolito told Corso. "I says, 'Let me tell you the ways the Jews do it. There's no better way. The Jews say there's four of us, that's a quarter each. The way Italians do it is to want sixty-five cents, a dime for another guy, three cents, seven cents, but always make sure I get the most.' I says, 'Jews don't care because there'll always be another dollar, and another dollar.' Italian people for some reason, and I don't know the reason, they always ask how am I getting fucked? Where I am getting fucked? It's like their assholes are puckered."

Eppolito turned to the piece of business at hand, as the two men continued their meal. The unnamed Florida investor was willing to send Eppolito the desired $75,000.

"Do I meet this guy, or no?" Eppolito asked Corso.

"I don't know," Corso replied.

"I could bring you the papers. Let him sign. He could sign it fucking 'John Wayne.' I don't give a fuck what name he uses."

Over the weeks they'd known each other, Corso saw Eppolito constantly. He went to Eppolito's daughter's college graduation party. He expressed an interest in dating her, despite an age difference of more than two decades. It seemed to Corso that Eppolito was withholding his approval of a liaison with his daughter pending the outcome of their business dealings. If Corso came through with the money, it seemed, Eppolito would encourage his daughter to see the much older, ruddy-faced, corrupt accountant.

Despite his corpulence and poor health, Eppolito was eager to impress Corso with his propensity for violence. Early in their relationship, Eppolito fantasized about an incident in which he purportedly met a sixty-seven-year-old gangster associated with Eppolito's deceased mobster father. The gangster now lived in Las Vegas. Eppolito's recollection of his conversation was recorded by the listening device Corso was wearing. "He took my kids, Deanna, Andrea, Tony, Fran, her mother, and me and he said to my family it would be an honor for me to kill anyone who fucks with your family. Just tell me who it is and I will take care of it. You will never hear about it. You'll read about it. It would be an honor because I loved your father so much."

On December 20, over another meal with Corso courtesy of the FBI, Eppolito explained to Corso the dealings he had with a man he had hired to work on his house. The contractor was a member of the Hell's Angels, Eppolito said, his voice registering clearly in the small recording device Corso wore. When a dispute about payment arose the contractor came at Eppolito with a hatchet, the retired tough guy cop told Corso. Eppolito said he grabbed the axe from the biker. "Do you think I won't put this through your fucking head, faggot?" he told Corso he said to the biker. "I says, 'You are nothing but a faggot.' I says, 'Your tattoos don't show me shit.' I says, 'If you don't finish this job today or tomorrow I'm going to personally kill you in front of your friends, then I'm going to kill your friends.'"

Eppolito told Corso he had brandished the axe as the violent Hell's Angel biker cowered in the face of the obese screenwriter in his late fifties in need of a double bypass operation. "I says, 'I'll put this right through your fucking head.' I says, 'You're not taking my kindness for weakness.' I says, 'If you ever want to push me, I will personally kill you, and I'll do it in front of your mother and father and then I'll kill them.'"

There was a profound lesson in the incident, Eppolito told Corso, an important truth about Eppolito's character revealed in his treatment of a biker who had the temerity to threaten the former NYPD mafia cop and son of Fat the Gangster. "You got to let people know the obvious," he said to Corso. If a hand or axe were raised against him, Eppolito said, following the dictates of cosa nostra to the letter, there was only one response possible. "You'll kill them first. That's imbedded in me."

In late December, Henoch flew to Las Vegas to meet with Corso. Eppolito's earlier mention of Stephen Caracappa had turned the FBI investigation of Eppolito into a potential prosecution of both men. The time was not ripe to move on Eppolito, Henoch decided. The story needed more time to develop. As talk of the $5 million deal continued, Eppolito insisted he needed cash right away. The sum Eppolito referred to continuously was $75,000.

By Christmas, Eppolito was growing agitated. Corso was a continuous presence in his life, in person and on the phone. But no money had arrived from Corso's Florida "connection." On December 26, Eppolito had open-heart surgery, a double bypass. Corso went to see Eppolito in the hospital. Wearing a wire, he offered his best wishes to the convalescmg ex-cop.

"I don't want to die, but I'm not afraid to die," Eppolito said. ''I'm not afraid of anything."

Corso continued to string Eppolito along during the month of January as Eppolito cajoled and pestered him for the money. Throughout Eppolito's dealings with Corso, Stephen Caracappa had been a subject of discussion between the two men. Eppolito told Corso that he and his former NYPD partner, Caracappa, worked together in the "protection" business and that Caracappa was Eppolito's advisor and confidant. Corso knew Caracappa read everything Eppolito wrote -- original screenplays, commissioned life stories, spec television scripts. The two retired detectives living across from each other on Silver Bear Way were dear friends with a deep bond.

On January 31, 2005, Corso met Eppolito for dinner at Vegas's Il Mulino of New York, an Italian restaurant in the upscale Forum Shops of Caesar's Palace. Eppolito was accompanied by a man named Al Pesci whom Corso had met at Eppolito's daughter's graduation. Eppolito also brought Caracappa with him. Pesci and Caracappa had many questions for Corso regarding the nature and structure of the financing deal he was offering Eppolito. Caracappa, in particular, wanted details on how the public offering would be conducted.

"I'm looking out for Lou," Caracappa said. "He has been hurt on other deals."

Corso nodded.

Caracappa said, "We bring you into our group -- our family, our closeness -- and we don't want to be hurt by it."

On February 3, Corso and Eppolito met again in Eppolito's office. As always, Eppolito wanted to know when he was going to get his money. Corso explained that the Florida investor was nervous that the transfer of money would be detected by law enforcement officials. They were young guys, Corso noted. He said the contracts should be completed using fictional identities. "Movie names," he said. Payment would come the week of February 14. The method of payment preferred was in amounts less than $10,000, Corso said. He explained to Eppolito that the federal government tracked large transactions by requiring banks and financial institutions to notify it if a deposit or withdrawal was over $10,000. The method of notification was a currency transaction report, or CTR. The drug dealer would pay in small tranches and thus not arouse suspicion.

"This is how the money is going to come in," Corso said. "I just want to make sure you're all right with it. What a CTR is, any time you get a deposit in your account over ten thousand dollars it flags. Okay? Let's say these guys hire me, they want to buy a restaurant. They want to invest in a public company. They pay me, I don't give a flying fuck. But this is drug money that's coming. I know you don't care, I'm just saying."

"Yeah," Eppolito said.

"Just so you know," Corso said.

Eppolito understood what was happening -- or thought he did.

On February 15, Eppolito received $5,000. The money was transferred by wire by the FBI, a method that created an electronic record of the transfer. Eppolito and Caracappa and Corso convened for dinner at yet another Italian restaurant. Fellini's boasted rooms with frescoes of Italian cities painted on the walls and a clientele said to include "Legends of Entertainment." As they ate and drank, courtesy of the FBI, Corso pretended to be upset that Eppolito had still not been paid in full. Corso said it was a matter of honor. He had given his solemn word to Eppolito that the money would be paid in full. The delays were upsetting and humiliating, Corso let it be known, growing more and more exercised. Corso was a fast talker, like Eppolito, and his red-faced outrage was exaggerated to mimic sincerity. Caracappa urged Corso to calm down.

"You got to understand one thing," Caracappa said to Corso while Eppolito was in the men's room. "Trust me when I tell you this. Don't put too much pressure on yourself. It's going to happen. You believe it's going to happen, then it's going to happen. Calm yourself down. I'll tell you why. You're going to make yourself sick over it."

Corso muttered his agreement.

"I've been in this business a lot longer than you," Caracappa said. "I know what I'm talking about here."

"Steve, if I don't have my word, I've got nothing."

"If I didn't believe your word, I wouldn't be sitting here with you. Or you wouldn't be sitting here with me and him."

"If I tell you something, it's going to happen."

"But you know what? Give it a little bit," Caracappa said.

"They're being very careful," Corso said. "They want to keep it under ten thousand dollars. I explained that to him."

Caracappa understood Eppolito's manner when involved in matters of money. "Is he being concerned about this?" he asked.

"I don't know this," Corso said. "It's none of my business. But I believe he's under financial pressure."

"Well, he is," said Caracappa of his partner.

Eppolito returned to the table.

"They're just paranoid," Corso said of his Florida connection. "But five thousand dollars is more than you had yesterday. That's the way I look at it."

"What are they so fucking paranoid about?" Eppolito asked. "They're from Florida, right? Why didn't they send a guy with a fucking car? I would have flown down there and drove back. That would not be a problem for me."

"They just want to do it this way," Corso said.

"I don't give a fuck," Eppolito said.


During the months Eppolito tried to lure Steven Corso to invest in his moviemaking schemes, Corso befriended Eppolito's twenty-four-year-old son Anthony. Tall and thin, with a shaved head and large dark eyes, Anthony was in the thrall of his father. "Anthony was a C casino kid,' a young man trying to figure out how to make a living out of Vegas's largest industry," Oldham recalled. "Anthony was only a beginner but he was friends with another casino kid who knew the game well. Guido Bravatti, a Guatemalan immigrant, was in his mid-twenties, with a shaved head and goatee. He worked in the clubs of the Venetian Hotel on the Strip. Corso met Bravatti through Tony Eppolito. Bravatti portrayed himself as a guy who could get anything. The first time he met Corso he offered to get him hookers. Caracappa had also met Bravatti through Anthony Eppolito. Caracappa took a shine to Bravatti. The kid was a jack-of-all-trades. He came over to Caracappa's house and helped Caracappa's wife set up her computer. Bravatti could get hookers, drugs, seats to a fight. He was an operator, a facilitator, and that appealed to Caracappa. The old Major Case Squad detective took Guido under his wing.

"By the time Corso sat down for dinner at Fellini's with Caracappa and Eppolito on February 15, the ground had been laid for the next gambit. The money-laundering charge against Eppolito was complete and the linguini hadn't even been served. The tapes were irrefutable proof that Eppolito was only too happy to take drug money, in cash, as an investment. All the requisite elements had been proved. Corso had let the conversation unfold naturally. Eppolito had obliged. That charge was airtight.

"From the start we had talked about asking Caracappa and Eppolito if they could supply Corso with drugs or prostitutes. When Henoch talked to Corso he asked if he thought Eppolito might be willing to deal drugs. Eppolito said in December he wouldn't touch the drugs himself, but it was unclear if he would participate in a transaction as long as someone else actually handled the drugs. Corso was sure Eppolito would want to be in on a drug deal -- any deal we offered. Eppolito said he would do anything for money, and Corso believed Eppolito meant what he said. 'Toss it out there,' Special Agent Sheehan said to Corso. If Caracappa and Eppolito had even a lick of sense, or decency, they wouldn't go for the bait. Taking money from a drug dealer was one thing. Dealing drugs was another."

During the main course at Fellini's, Corso broached a new subject. Over red wine and pasta he suggested an escalation in their business relationship. Attempting to sound offhand, his voice audible over the din of dinner, Corso upped the ante.

"The other thing I want to talk to you about," Corso said to Caracappa and Eppolito. "Don't take it the wrong way. I got these guys. These four young guys are coming in. They're young Hollywood punks. They're my clients. Two are famous. They're coming to Vegas this weekend. These are guys that are going to invest. They may need protection, but I haven't asked them about that. The reason I tried to get in touch with the Guid-ster ... Did you talk to him today?"

"Who?" Eppolito asked.


"No," Eppolito said. "I have to see my son. My son knows him."

"These guys have been my clients for three years," Corso said. "They're younger. Two of them are famous. They're coming for the whole weekend."

"How famous?" Eppolito asked "What are you talking about famous?"

"You'd know their names," Corso said.

"Are they actors?"

"Yeah," said Corso. "They're going to invest."

The Cheddar was set before the mouse. Caracappa and Eppolito were within reach of a huge windfall. All they had to do was one small thing: commit a federal felony. The movie stars Corso had dreamt up as the lure for Eppolito -- the combination of fame and fortune -- were going to give him money for his scripts. The amount wasn't just $75,000. The Hollywood actors, with all of the cascading contacts and opportunities such a connection promised, were going to buy four scripts. Eppolito would receive $300,000. The deal sounded too good to be true -- because it was.

"It's not my problem," Corso continued, "but my thing is that these young guys like to party. They do things that I have no knowledge about. Basically, it's designer shit -- designer drugs."

"Tony can take care of that for you," Eppolito said, referring to his younger son. "My son can bring them to all the top places."

Corso wanted to make it perfectly clear to Caracappa and Eppolito that he was talking about purchasing drugs, not getting into clubs or hiring hookers. "What they want ... " Corso's voice trailed off. "This is why I was thinking about Guido. They don't want to go to the places. They want me to get them ecstasy or speed. I don't know what that is."

"You got to ask Guido," Eppolito said.

"Guido's the guy?" Corso asked.

"Guido can handle it," Caracappa said.

"Guido can handle it?" Corso asked.

"All those places, yeah," said Eppolito.

"So I just gotta get in touch with Bravatti," Corso said. "That's why I was trying to get in touch with him. That and to see if I can do any accounting with him."

After their dinner, Eppolito called Corso with Bravatti's number. Corso took the number but refused to discuss the drug deal with Bravatti on the telephone.

"I don't talk about anything illegal on the phone," Corso said.

Eppolito grunted.

Corso and Bravatti talked the next day. Bravatti had heard about Corso's dinner with "Uncle Lou" and "Uncle Steve." The story about the incoming celebrities and their needs had been conveyed. Bravatti asked if Corso was free to meet for dinner. Bravatti was going to bring his "partner" along.

El Molino on West Sahara Avenue was a Mexican restaurant specializing in fajitas and margaritas. Corso arrived at six p.m. wearing a wire and expecting Bravatti to arrive with his "partner." Just after seven, Bravatti arrived. Anthony Eppolito was with him. The former NYPD detective turned screenwriter had shown he would do anything for money, including dealing drugs, provided he didn't have to touch the drugs himself. Corso had not considered the possibility that "anything" included using his son to do the dirty work Eppolito eschewed as too dangerous.

The three were shown to the table. Drinks and dinner were ordered. Corso had rehearsed what he was going to say. Trust was the first order of business. Corso had to know that he could trust Bravatti and the younger Eppolito. "I asked Tony's dad and Steve if I could trust you," he said to Bravatti. "I know I could trust Tony because I know his dad. They vouch for you up and down. I made them swear that I could trust you. I need ... "

Corso paused.

"These guys need to get an ounce of meth and about six to eight pills of ecstasy for their party," he said.

"No problem," Bravatti said quickly.

"I don't know how much it's going to be, but whatever it costs I'd rather do it in my office," Corso said nervously.

"Because you're Dad's friend, because of that, there's no way that anybody you would bring to us would get fucked," Tony Eppolito said. "Believe me."

"I know that," Corso said. "That's why I'm coming to you guys. But I don't want to get fucked."

"No," said the younger Eppolito.

"I got to be careful," Corso said.

"Don't worry about it," Eppolito said.

"If it's a thousand, if it's eight hundred," Corso said, "I don't give a fuck what it is. I need it tomorrow afternoon if I can."

"Do you only need an ounce?" Eppolito asked.

"An ounce of speed and, like, six to eight pills?" Bravatti asked.

"I don't know what else you guys can provide," Corso said.

"We can provide anything," Bravatti said.

"I don't know," Corso said.

"I can get you anything you want," Bravatti repeated.

"I don't know nothing about this shit," Corso said. "You tell me if there's something in addition that you like and you want them to try and I'll buy it from you. I just don't know anything about it. Okay? The reason I'm doing it is -- first of all because they pay me a lot of money."

Bravatti laughed.

"No shit," Tony Eppolito said.

"Whatever they want, I want to be able to give to them. Because the number two reason I'm doing this, I want their minds to be perfect. The only thing I care about is they cough up the money. That's all I give a shit about."

"As long as you take care of my Dad I'll give you whatever you want," the younger Eppolito said. "I don't give a shit."

"There's seventy-five times four coming to your Dad," Corso said.

"To be honest, I'll make money off the deal," Bravatti said. "But as long as your deal goes through and they have a great time they'll keep coming back."

"If you got something else I'll buy it," Corso said. "I don't give a shit. They're going to be with a couple of girls, but look I don't know what they want. I don't know what you can provide. They might want girls, if you've got access to girls that are hot. These guys got money."

"We've got access to everything," Bravatti repeated again. "Do they like prostitutes?"

"They're bringing their own girls?" Eppolito asked.

"These are the type of guys, they would say to the girls go out there and have a good time."

"We got girls," Eppolito said.

"I've got porn stars," Bravatti said. "I've got access to everything."

"Are they --" Corso began.

"Top-notch?" Bravatti interrupted. "They are. I've been in Vegas twelve years so I know the town pretty well."

"These guys are coming in tomorrow night," Corso said. "Will you be able to get me the shit tomorrow?"

"I could have it to you tonight," said Eppolito.

"I could have it to you tonight," Bravatti agreed.

"Tomorrow's good," Corso said.

The next morning Corso arrived for work at nine, as usual. The meeting with Bravatti and Tony Eppolito was set for two in the afternoon. Corso worked through the morning. He was a cooperator for the FBI, but part of his deal with the Bureau allowed him to perform accounting for legitimate clients. Over the months, Corso had developed a small but promising practice. Despite the depths of his situation, Corso was attempting to claw back some version of a life to carry forward after his time as an FBI snitch was finished and he had served the sentence he was given, if any, for his crimes.

Before Bravatti and Eppolito arrived, Corso was summoned to the "other" office. DEA and FBI agents were in the adjacent room monitoring the video and audio surveillance equipment. They frisked Corso, emptying his pockets to ensure he had no cash or contraband that would sully the anticipated drug transaction. Corso was furnished with $1,400 in hundred dollar bills. Corso began to wait for Bravatti, hoping Tony Eppolito wasn't with him.

Guido Bravatti and Tony Eppolito arrived on time. Corso gave them a tour of his five-room suite, excluding the DEA and FBI office accessible through a side door. The small talk over, Corso locked the front door of his suite. The threesome made their way to Corso's office. Eppolito and Bravatti sat in high-backed chairs opposite Corso. Under the gaze of the FBI video camera, Tony Eppolito placed the crystal meth on the desk.

"From the outset, the younger Eppolito and Bravatti had been enacting an orchestrated pantomime for Corso. Bravatti promised anything Corso wanted. Tony Eppolito was the concerned and connected son of the ex-cop gangster who could be trusted. The two-bit punk drug deal was infused with an interior and unspoken conversation. Sending his son meant that Louis Eppolito was in earnest. Providing an ironclad guarantee that Bravatti was credible showed approval by Caracappa. The two young men had prepared their performance to draw Corso further into their web -- as Corso drew them into ours."

In Corso's office, the younger Eppolito was about to deliver the goods. "My friend got it for eight hundred," Eppolito said as he handed over the baggie containing the drugs. "He wants nine hundred."

The surveillance camera angle was perfect: Corso was in the foreground, back to the camera, while the two young men sat on the edge of their seats eagerly as Corso picked up the drugs and inspected the baggie.

"Good," Corso said.

"It'll blow your mind," Bravatti said.

"Was it hard to get?" Corso asked.

"It was easy," Eppolito said. "They sell it to wannabes like us. Actually it's a little hard to come by an ounce. It's a large quantity. Selling smaller amounts is easier. An ounce can be chopped up and sold in much smaller pieces and make a lot more money."

With one transaction complete, back in New York Oldham and Henoch began to plan further operations. A second delivery of drugs was proposed, in order to show a pattern of narcotics dealing by the criminal enterprise Caracappa and Eppolito were still operating in Las Vegas. In Vegas Corso tried to contact Tony Eppolito but failed to reach him. Another drug delivery was attempted but a DEA agent involved fell ill and the transaction had to be postponed. Two weeks later, Corso met with Eppolito and one of his daughters. Eppolito appeared upset.

"How you feeling?" Corso asked, with concern.

"I got a panic call from my son," Louis Eppolito said. "I'm very, very fucking upset. Don't call him or Guido anymore. No more. They don't exist. "

"What's the problem?" Corso asked.

"Don't call them anymore, okay," Eppolito said. "Do not call them anymore."

"They were supposed to meet me --"

"They're not meeting you."


"I told them not to."

"How come?"

"It's an over situation. I don't want to go into it. I don't want to discuss it. Just do not reach for either of them. If the guys from California cancel out, it's fine with me. It's not going to have any bearing on me. I don't give a fuck."

"You seem upset," Corso said.


"You want to tell me about it? No? Okay."

A fourth meeting was set for March 3. Corso arrived as agreed. No one else turned up at the appointed time and place.


By early March, Oldham and Henoch were growing increasingly concerned about security. If Caracappa and Eppolito got word of the investigation, there were many things that could go wrong. First, the cops could go on the run. Second, they could go after Corso. Third, there were the wild cards that got dealt in any investigation. "The most unpredictable moment is just before you take them down," Oldham recalled. "Years of work had gone into making the case against Caracappa and Eppolito. We had Burt Kaplan, Tommy Galpine, Monica Galpine, Pete Chiodo, and Al D'Arco. We had the Vegas charges -- money laundering, drug dealing, hours of Eppolito bragging about his capacity to kill. We had reached that exquisite moment when things could only go downhill or wrong. Caracappa and Eppolito were still connected inside law enforcement in New York City. Most of the guys they'd worked with had left the force, but that didn't mean they had no juice."

Henoch was planning the arrest for late March. Methodical by nature, a prosecutor with the mind-set of a military logistics specialist, he wanted the angles thought through before acting. Then Henoch got a phone call that changed their plans. The call came from Bob Nardoza, a public affairs officer in the Eastern District. Nardoza said he had received a call from the Brooklyn DA's office's public information officer, Jerry Schmetterer. Officials there wanted to know if the arrest of Caracappa and Eppolito could be arranged for a Sunday.

"If the takedown came on a Sunday, we were told, the television show 60 Minutes would run footage from the press conference on that night's broadcast," Oldham said. "The publicity that the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Brooklyn DA would receive would be enormous. If things went wrong we couldn't have dug ourselves a hole deep enough to hide in. The stupidity of the notion was stunning."

Sensing disaster, Henoch began to record events so that he would have contemporaneous notes if the case went off the rails. The next day, 60 Minutes reporter Lesley Stahl turned up on the front steps of Tommy Dades's house asking if he would talk to her. Dades turned Stahl down and called Mark Feldman. Now there was a real possibility that the outcome of the investigation could be altered.

Henoch had planned to continue working Corso with Caracappa and Eppolito. The two former NYPD cops had grown suspicious of Corso, but it seemed it would be worth seeing whether they would be willing to engage in more money laundering and drug deals. Now that plan was precluded. There was no time to lose. Caracappa and Eppolito needed to be arrested as soon as possible.

As the team prepared, Oldham made inquiries among doctors about the recovery time for an open-heart surgery patient. Oldham wanted to know how long after such an operation it would be considered safe to place a patient's heart under the strain that Eppolito's would face as he was arrested. "I didn't want to be handcuffing a purplish fat man as he lay dying."

Oldham flew to Las Vegas, as did Intartaglio, Campanella, and Manko. The tactical meeting for the arrest took place in the morning in the DEA's Las Vegas field office. It was in another of Las Vegas's gated communities, enclosed by a ten-foot cinderblock wall, ringed with surveillance cameras. Entry was gained to the compound through electrically operated heavy metal gates.

At noon Oldham received a call from Henoch. The prosecutor told him that Kaplan had failed a lie detector test. Henoch was no longer sure they should go through with the arrest. Oldham argued that the failed lie detector test was irrelevant. Polygraphs were not admissible in criminal trials. It had been decided by the courts that the probative value of polygraphs was outweighed by the prejudice they invited. Experienced law enforcement officials knew that the tests were useful as a threat or a tool but not as direct evidence. Kaplan's truthfulness had been verified by every traditional means possible. Henoch had spent many hours with Kaplan during the proffer sessions. Oldham knew Kaplan was telling the truth about Caracappa and Eppolito. That was the case at hand. Oldham made a raft of phone calls to senior federal attorneys to learn their views on the consequences of Kaplan failing the polygraph. The consensus was that the failure should not abort the arrests. By late afternoon Oldham and Henoch had reached an agreement. The takedown would proceed on schedule at Piero's, a "family" -style establishment owned by a local businessman named Freddie Glusman. In an advertisement, Glusman boasted, "No one gets bothered in my restaurant. I don't care who the celebrity is or what they have done. I see to it that they are allowed to dine in peace and quiet ... No exceptions!" Known for its "awesome bucco" and spumone and as a regular hangout for the Rat Pack in the sixties, Piero's was frequented by diners who enjoyed its notoriously colorful ambience. Glusman was noted for joking, "the boys still come in here, but now the FBI follows them."

On the evening of March 9, 2005, four agents lolled in the vestibule entrance to Piero's. They knew Eppolito and Caracappa were coming. The former detectives were expecting to meet Corso for an evening of food and conversation. Traffic was light, but it was still early evening. Manko and his team idled in their car a short distance away. Although it had taken DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge John Peluso nearly half an hour of cursing and channel surfing, the portable radios now worked properly. The designated DEA chase cars reported that a Cadillac Escalade SUV carrying Eppolito and Caracappa was a few miles away from Piero's and making good time. The parking valet leaned on a railing reading a paperback book.

"As the cars drew nearer I moved my car to a position across the street from the restaurant. Minutes passed slowly. The Escalade came into view turning onto Convention Center Drive from Country Club Lane. It slowed and turned into Piero's lot, coming to a stop under the valet parking portico. Louie left the driver's seat as Steve stepped from the passenger side, taking a second, running the flattened palms and fingers of both hands from his shoulders to his waist to smooth the lines of his suit jacket.

"Having been a policeman for approximately 10,496 days of my life, I pulled into the lot behind the Escalade, at the same time cutting off entry to the chase cars. Clearly not part of the plan, not tactical genius. I reached Steve as he was about to enter the restaurant, at the same time Louie was being pushed out of the restaurant by the four agents in the vestibule. We sprawled both men against the exterior wall of the restaurant. As I searched Steve and Peluso handcuffed him, an agent relieved Eppolito of a large silver-colored semiautomatic handgun that had been tucked in his waistband.

"That night at the DEA field office, I passed what appeared to be a reinforced concrete and fiberglass room. It gave the impression of being a fish tank of some sort. I saw Steve sitting alone handcuffed to the single bench that ran along one wall. I stepped into the room and sat down next to him. He looked at me hard for a minute. 'I know you. Where do I know you from?' he asked. 'I'm Oldham. We worked together at Major Case.' Caracappa smiled as his face lit with recognition and then he slapped and squeezed my thigh. He didn't get it. He thought he'd been arrested for violating some local ordinance in Las Vegas -- spitting on the sidewalk, or something. He looked at me and asked wryly, 'Hey, who'd I kill to end up in this fucking place?' I cupped my hand and leaned over and whispered into his ear, 'Eddie Lino.' He looked stunned. He didn't ask, 'Who?' He turned away from me, leaving me staring at his back, and muttered, 'I don't know no thin' about that.'''



1. The federal offense of money laundering sprang from the tax evasion convictions of Al Capone in 1931. As a result of that case, Meyer Lansky started the practice of squirreling his money in Swiss bank accounts using a series of shell companies. The cat-and-mouse game between organized crime and investigators took on the trappings and sophistication of high finance. Thus did hiding ill-gotten gains become as important and chancy as acquiring them in the first place.
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Re: The Brotherhoods: The True Story of Two Cops Who Murdere

Postby admin » Wed Jun 18, 2014 2:21 am



The arrest of Caracappa and Eppolito made headlines around the world. "Among the most startling allegations of police corruption in memory," said the New York Times. "Could be the last of the red-hot organized crime trials ... equal parts titillating and chilling ... a courtroom pageant for the ages," predicted New York magazine. "The most shocking scandal to hit the New York Police Department for a century," said the BBC.

The federal government was feeling triumphant in the aftermath of the bust. "This indictment is an indication that the passage of time is never a safe haven for those who violate the law," the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency said in a press release. "With the charges announced today," U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District Roslynn R. Mauskopf said, "these defendants will rightfully face justice, ensuring that their conduct will never tarnish the reputation of a proud and honorable police department." Mauskopf emphasized that the arrest did not mean that the investigation was complete. The capture of Caracappa and Eppolito gave the government the opportunity to accumulate more evidence as people with information came forward or were found by the cadre.

News of the arrests caused a chemical reaction in the country's entertainment industries, many of them centered in the same city where the story was located. The words NYPD, murder, and mafia set in proximity to one another fused to become a new substance -- an enticing media property. Hollywood producers, Manhattan literary agents, and newspaper reporters began to prowl around the case looking to make deals; all were claiming special access to the main players who had inside information. Detective Tommy Dades, now retired and spending evenings working with kids boxing in a gym in Staten Island, suddenly became prominent, having emerged in reports as the easy-talking sleuth who had "broken" the case. "Dades' relentless investigation of Eppolito and partner Stephen Caracappa resulted in the arrests Wednesday of two of the allegedly dirtiest cops ever -- cops who thought they had gotten away with murder," the Daily News reported. The work of Oldham and other members of the cadre went largely uncredited.

The subterranean skirmishing between the Eastern District and the Brooklyn DA finally came into the open on national television on the CBS show 60 Minutes on Sunday, April 10, 2005. Denied the chance to prosecute Caracappa and Eppolito by the Eastern District, unnamed sources in the Brooklyn DA's office contrived to put forward a version of events that gave credit for the case against the newly dubbed "mafia cops" to a single investigator: Tommy Dades. The 60 Minutes segment was reported by Ed Bradley, and began with a review of the show's closeness to the case over many years. "I spoke to Anthony 'Gaspipe' Casso in 1998 in prison where he began serving a life sentence after admitting to thirty-six murders," Bradley said. "Casso's claims couldn't be substantiated at the time, so we couldn't air them until now, now that the detectives have been indicted."

The videotape of Gaspipe Casso appeared onscreen next. Dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit, Casso described the kidnapping and killing of Jimmy Hydell in 1986. "Louie and Steve made believe they were going to arrest him," Casso said. "The kid thought they were taking him to the station house. But they took him to a garage. They laid him on the floor, tied his feet, put his hands in cuffs, and they put him in the trunk of the car. The guy is kicking in the trunk, making noise. I took him to a place I had prearranged. It was somebody's house I could use. I sat him down. I wanted to know why I was shot, who else was involved, who gave him orders. After that, I killed the kid myself."

"You killed him?" Bradley asked.

"Right," Casso said.

"With just one shot to the head?"

"No," Casso said, a sly grin creasing his face. "I didn't shoot him in the head. I was in somebody's house. You'd make a mess that way. I shot him a couple of times. I didn't torture the kid. Maybe I shot him ten, twelve times. I gave Louie and Steve I think $45,000 for delivering him to me."

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes was then interviewed. "I've seen organized corruption cases but the allegations that two cops were hit men in addition to giving up people for hits is absolutely shocking," Hynes said.

The clip of Eppolito in Goodfellas was played, followed by a shot of the cover of Mafia Cop. Bradley reported that Gaspipe Casso had been deemed an unreliable witness and his cooperation agreement had been breached by prosecutors. But only after an ex-cop named Tommy Dades "helped break the case wide open" did prosecutors start to believe Casso's stories about Eppolito and Caracappa.

Next came a Bradley interview of Dades.

"You sat for months by yourself poring through records, computer files, phone logs?" he asked.

"I would go over as much information as I could, to try to come up with a mistake that they made here, a mistake they may have made there."

"Was there a moment when you said, 'I got them'?"

"There was a moment that got me very excited, that I knew I was on the right track," Dades said.

Bradley reported that Dades had discovered how Caracappa had run a search on an NYPD database for a man named Nicky Guido.


The obsession with who should get credit for the arrests obscured and infected the ongoing investigation of the case, which, now that a trial loomed, rapidly took on greater urgency. The first order of business was continuing to debrief Burton Kaplan. For prosecutor Robert Henoch, the process required a stringent protocol. Over the months to follow, he would get to know Kaplan's life story in as much detail as humanly possible. Yet Oldham was increasingly isolated. He didn't want to sit in a room and listen to Henoch ask Kaplan one question after another. Henoch was good at giving orders. Oldham was terrible at taking them.

"The other guys were resentful because I wasn't doing my share of the shit work," Oldham said. "But I'd been doing it for years. I thought I had equity in the case. Among other things, we fought about the Eddie Lino charge. Henoch thought we needed to do a DNA test on the watch found down the road from Lino's car, to see if it was Caracappa's. I disagreed. I told him it wasn't Steve's watch. I was in Major Case with Caracappa at the time of the Lino hit. I knew Steve wouldn't wear a cheap watch like a Pulsar. His taste ran more to the expensive -- he wore suits hand-tailored in Hong Kong. More to the point, if you run a DNA swipe on the watch and it comes back negative, then it looks to the jury like you don't know what you're doing."

The claim that Tommy Dades had "made" the case upset investigators in the Eastern District as well as many in the Brooklyn DA's office. Dades had quit six months before the arrest of Caracappa and Eppolito; he had left of his own volition. He had nothing to do with Kaplan, before or during or after his proffer. The assertion that Dades "made" the case was absurd to many insiders. But tensions remained between those involved, as frequently occurred in the rough and tumble of New York City OC cases. Much of the dispute inside the Eastern District revolved around semantics. What did "making" the case mean? What was the "case"? Was it "made" when Kaplan flipped, or did "making" the case demand the yearlong investigation to corroborate Kaplan and then present the evidence to the jury? To a large extent, the term meant different things to different investigators and lawyers. For Oldham, the case was "made" when Kaplan agreed to talk. There was an enormous amount of work to be done, but once Kaplan agreed to divulge the actions of Eppolito and Caracappa the key pieces of the puzzle had been put in place. For Robert Henoch and his team of attorneys inside the Eastern District, "making" the case meant securing a conviction. Both definitions of "making" a case were arguably valid.

The task of placing the case before a jury fell to Henoch, and his two associates, Mitra Hormozi and Daniel Wenner. Kaplan's narration of events was critical, and his testimony would make or break the trial, but it was also vital that every shred of evidence that corroborated Kaplan, including Caracappa's check of the wrong Nicky Guido, be amassed, structured, and prepared for presentation to a jury. In addition, other witnesses would have to be interviewed and prepared.

The lead resources for Henoch in the months after the arrest were Bobby Intartaglio and Joel Campanella, both experts on organized crime. Oldham chafed. He and Henoch started to argue even more. Oldham had chosen Henoch, and now Oldham felt pushed to the margins.

"The Caracappa and Eppolito case was an orphan for years," Oldham said. "Many people wanted to get them but no one thought it could be done. The FBI and DEA wouldn't put any resources into it. Mark Feldman gave it to the Brooklyn DA's office. But once the case was made, there was a gold rush. Everyone wanted to jump on the bandwagon. It was getting crowded and I wanted off."

Oldham was also caught up in other cases. He got a letter from an inmate in the New York state system named Oswaldo Medea saying he wanted to talk about the murder of a police officer in the past. "I researched his claim and I couldn't find a murder of a police officer that was unsolved. The NYPD claimed we had solved every murdered officer case but two. Then I realized that the NYPD had absorbed the New York Housing Police in 1995. The cop Medea was talking about was a housing cop, so he wasn't technically a cop. I brought Medea down from Attica. He was doing multiple life sentences. He was a very scary guy. Wiry and mean, you could see he would kill you if he got riled. Another inmate had told me he had twenty-three bodies. Medea told me it was actually more like forty. He was very serious about being who he was. Medea had a code of honor. He said he would snitch on himself but no one else. He admitted he killed the cop. It was a coup, closing an old murder of a police officer. All Medea wanted for his cooperation was to spend ten years in federal prison in Florida. He knew he was never getting out, but he wanted to retire to a cell in a warm-weather state. In return we would close the murder of a police officer, which means something to my kind. We don't like open police murders. They send the wrong message. Every cop wants to close those cases, even if takes thirty years. But the front office wouldn't sign off on the deal. They didn't want it to seem like the government was rewarding Medea's behavior.

"The fights were enervating. I was feeling depleted -- not just physically but like my beliefs were out of date. They called us dinosaurs around the office, the law enforcement counterparts to Burt Kaplan and the last of the old-school hard cases. The office politics were killing me. I knew I wasn't going to get better cases than Louie and Steve, and a guy who professed to have killed forty people plus a cop. On the flip side, it couldn't get any worse. For the first time in the Eastern District I was being told what to do. I was told to stay away from organized crime cases. I was ending up where I began when I first came to the Major Case Squad and Caracappa locked me out of the Organized Crime Homicide Unit. Working on Steve and Louie didn't win me any friends. The opposite.

"The years had taken a toll. Detectives will tell you there is only so much murder and misery you can take. There comes a time when you either submit and you will be diminished if you stay on the job, or you get out and try something else in life. I decided it was time to retire. I was done. I was finished. Tired, worn-out, ready for a new challenge." [1]


On the morning of March 31, 2005, three weeks after the arrest of Caracappa and Eppolito, NYPD helicopters hovered above a parking lot on Nostrand Avenue in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn. Below, Dr. Bradley Adams from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner excavated the earth underneath a covered parking shed. A leading forensic anthropologist, tasked during the nineties with exhuming the remains of more than fifty American servicemen buried during the Korean and Vietnam wars, the youthful and earnest scientist diligently sifted through the soil looking for evidence of disturbance. Adams dug slowly, carefully, using his hands and a masonry trowel in the sandy silt and clay. Signs of digging, or compaction, would indicate that he was looking in the right spot. The only clue Adams had was a report that a body was buried in the earth under one of the parking sheds.

The lead had come from a tiny, seemingly insignificant document buried inside an NYPD murder file nearly twenty years old. Going through the evidence boxes related to the 1987 homicide of Frank Santora Jr., the cadre had come across Santora's phone book. At the time, Burton Kaplan was being debriefed by Henoch in a New Jersey motel. During the proffer sessions, Kaplan had said that when Caracappa and Eppolito snatched Jimmy Hydell in the fall of 1986, they had taken him to a parking lot in order to transfer him to the trunk of their car for the hand off to Casso at the Toys 'R' Us at the end of Flatbush Avenue. Kaplan remembered that Santora and Eppolito had a connection inside the Brooklyn lot where they had taken Hydell that day. It was noticed that Santora's telephone book contained an entry for "Pete's tow truck" and two numbers, one in Brooklyn, the other in Pennsylvania. Oldham and his cadre colleagues tracked down the numbers and found they led to a parking lot on Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn. Further inquiries had identified a man named Pete Franzone as the operator of the lot in the eighties.

On the day Caracappa and Eppolito were arrested in Las Vegas, Henoch had instructed FBI Special Agent Michael Wolf to approach Franzone and inquire about his knowledge of the two retired NYPD detectives. Panicked, Franzone denied any connection. He was terrified that Special Agent Wolf was, in fact, an impersonator sent by Caracappa and Eppolito to see if Franzone would rat on them -- and kill him if he did. After Wolf left, Franzone picked up the yellow pages and called the first attorney he saw in the book, Alan Abramson, a lawyer who just happened to be a former assistant district attorney for the Brooklyn DA. Franzone told Abramson that a man was buried under a concrete slab in one of the parking sheds he used to manage. Abramson convinced Franzone that he needed to tell law enforcement what he knew about the two "mafia cops" making headlines at the time.

On April 1 Dr. Adams returned to the site and began excavation in an adjacent garage. The FBI Evidence Response Team brought a small backhoe to expedite the process. A large block of concrete formed the floor of the garage. The slab was removed. As he began to dig, Dr. Adams quickly saw indications of white material flecked in the soil. He thought it was lime, a substance believed by many to speed the process of decomposition -- when in fact the chemical composition slows insect activity and therefore keeps a body intact longer. He began to dig with great care. As he went deeper he encountered a piece of black fabric. Dr. Adams probed further, the hole reaching down three and then four feet. The soil was extremely loose. Moving his hands through the earth, Dr. Adams felt the shape of a shoulder blade. Gently removing the remaining dirt, he revealed the decomposed corpse of a man lying in the fetal position, his head bent and arms and legs folded under his torso.

The pit measured twenty-nine inches in diameter and was precisely five feet deep. Dr. Adams removed the body. The man's head was disconnected, part of normal decomposition, and stuck in a plastic Shop Rite shopping bag. The remnant of a yarmulke clung to his head. His wrists were tied behind his back. He was wearing rubber galoshes over his shoes, indicating he had been killed in the winter. A wallet was removed from his pocket. The American Express card inside was for one Isidor A. Greenwald of Blue River Gems Inc. He had been shot twice in the back of the head. One slug exited through his forehead. The other slug exited through his left eye. For nearly two decades, this had been the unmarked grave of the jeweler Israel Greenwald.


The federal courthouse of New York City's Eastern District is located at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge. It is a landmark for both sides of the organized crime industry -- gangsters and cops. Over the decades, hundreds of Brooklyn wiseguys have entered the courthouse's revolving doors, some acquitted and returned to the streets, the vast majority convicted and transported on a Bureau of Prisons bus to a penitentiary on the outskirts of a town in middle America.

In their first appearance in court, Caracappa and Eppolito seemed dazed as they emerged from the holding cells. The two former detectives had been held in Las Vegas and then transferred to Atlanta and from there to Brooklyn and the Metropolitan Detention Center. Both men appeared shaken as they gazed at the onlookers packed in the gallery. Caracappa was sickly, pale, and disoriented. Eppolito appeared in worse condition. Dressed in prison garb -- T-shirt, cotton slacks, slip-on sneakers -- Eppolito had the pallor of a man at death's door.

Judge Jack Weinstein stared back at them with cold solemnity. Eighty-three years old, tall, still muscular, his face distinguished by a hawkish nose and prominent eyebrows, Weinstein was arguably the best trial judge in the country. A longtime professor at Columbia University and author of an authoritative text, Weinstein on Evidence, he had been appointed to the bench in 1967 by President Lyndon Johnson. In the decades since, he had established a reputation for maverick decisions, often of a liberal bent, and a courtroom manner that moved quickly from courtly gentility to sharp irritability. The august cadences of his voice suggested the dispassionate grandeur of the late actor John Houseman. Born in Wichita, Kansas, in 1922, Weinstein had been raised in Brooklyn and in the thirties appeared as an actor on Broadway, in productions of Subway Express and I Love an Actress, as well as auditioned for a part in the 1928 production of Peter Pan starring famed lesbian actress and theatrical impresario Eva Le Gallienne.

Judge Weinstein was no innocent. During his teenage years, he drove a truck on the docks of Brooklyn, exposing him to the criminal forces that controlled the commercial underworld and shaped Gaspipe Casso, junior and senior. Weinstein had served as a submarine officer in the Pacific during World War II. In the final days of the conflict, after the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the subsequent Japanese surrender, Weinstein's submarine got an enemy ship in its sights while on patrol. The war was over but hostilities had not officially ceased. The captain of the American submarine trained his torpedo sights on the ship. Weinstein, a junior officer, asked if it was necessary to sink the ship -- and kill the men aboard. The captain replied that he was still under orders. The ship was struck, and the crew perished. The experience seared Weinstein, and provided the impetus for a lifelong interest in the existential question of what a man with power should do when literal adherence to the letter of the law seemed to thwart justice. It would be a question that would find its way into the fates of the men who now appeared before him.

Vigorous in his great age, often rising with the dawn to row or swim in Long Island Sound near his suburban home, Weinstein remained perhaps the most prolific judge in the Eastern District. Intellectually, he was the equal of any sitting judge in the country -- and known for wanting to be known as such. As he heard both criminal and civil matters, as do all federal trial judges, many of Weinstein's decisions were animated by the dilemmas created when courts are confronted by large social questions. For years Weinstein refused to enforce draconian mandatory drug sentences, which frequently imprisoned low-level mules and couriers caught with small amounts of narcotics for decades. He had been instrumental in the creation of class-action lawsuits, deciding cases involving veterans of the Vietnam War who had been exposed to Agent Orange, illnesses caused by asbestos, and the impact of antidepressants on mental health. Over the years, hundreds of writs for habeas corpus -- claims of convicts saying they had been unjustly convicted -- had piled up in the dockets of the judges in the Eastern District, a backlog thought impossible to clear. Single-handedly, Judge Weinstein took all of the claims and worked through more than five hundred in one year. Most were frivolous but approximately a dozen inmates had their claims vindicated. He was, in sum, a man of Olympian talent and industry, fearsomely independent in habit and mind.

Like all Brooklyn judges, Judge Weinstein had encountered his share of organized crime cases. Over the years members of all five New York crime families had appeared before him, as had the various populations of the OC industry in Brooklyn -- criminals, cops, reporters, attorneys, judges. It had been Jack Weinstein who had tried the case of Vincent Chin Gigante in 1996. [2] In a profile by the New York Times after the Gigante conviction, it was noted that at trial Weinstein had finally managed to get Gigante to stop wearing pajamas and a bathrobe and to dress appropriately for court. "To liberals," said the article, "Weinstein is the emblem of the 1960's notion that the country's problems can be solved by good intentions and that the legal system can be a tool for reform. To conservatives, he is the epitome of judicial power run amok." A legal scholar from Yale Law School was quoted saying of Weinstein, "He thinks of himself as a man who can integrate the formal requirements of the law with the practical requirements of justice." He is known in legal circles for his prodigious ego; the New York Times reported that a courthouse joke about the judge went, "God has been seeing a psychiatrist lately because He thinks He is Jack Weinstein." Friends of Weinstein's were interviewed, and it was said that beneath the gruff, confident exterior he did not believe he had lived up to his own goals in life. Evelyn, his wife of nearly sixty years, who worked as a psychiatric social worker, said that she didn't recognize the person lionized by his colleagues. "I always think he doesn't think he's done enough," she said.

United States v. Stephen Caracappa and Louis Eppolito would be Judge Weinstein's last great case, perhaps drawing more worldwide media attention than any matter that had ever come before him. It was a trial Weinstein was uniquely qualified to oversee for many reasons, not least of which because he had a long-standing and intimate awareness of the criminal career of Burton Kaplan. In the early seventies and again in the early eighties, Weinstein had tried and sentenced Kaplan. Kaplan's wife and daughter, Eleanor and Deborah, had gone before Weinstein to plead for leniency. In 1973, Kaplan had written to Weinstein from Lewisburg Federal Prison seeking leniency. "I have never been involved in any violence in any form, physical or verbal, in my life," Kaplan wrote. "I detest it and all it stands for." Weinstein, it may be assumed, remembered this as "the cops" stood before him.

In a series of pretrial decisions, Weinstein appeared to live up to his reputation for liberality on the bench. The statute of limitations and the fiveyear time limit to bring a RICO prosecution troubled him in particular. The government's case was weak, Weinstein said, and there were significant problems with the way that the indictment was structured. Tying criminal acts in the eighties and early nineties in New York City to the criminality in Las Vegas in 2004 strained the plain meaning of the words of the law, Weinstein said. Henoch argued that the acts in New York and Las Vegas were connected for several reasons. The core players were the same. Eppolito continued to utilize his mob bona fides to make money for himself and Caracappa. They continued to commit crimes together, when the opportunity arose. They continued to associate with each other, in the pursuit of lawful and unlawful enterprises.

The scope of the case the government could present had to be determined. Over the years, Oldham had collected voluminous evidence regarding the character of the two cops. Caracappa had been known as "Stevie Aces" as a young man on Staten Island, caught during a burglary on a lumber yard. While Caracappa was partnered with Eppolito in the Brooklyn Robbery Squad, they had stuck up bodegas with paper bags over their heads, according to Kaplan. The evidence, if presented to a jury, would form the basis for a judgment about the kind of man Caracappa was -- despite his illustrious career on the NYPD.

The same was true for Eppolito. Mafia Cop was a study in the character of Eppolito -- reading its glorification of violence, crime, and the mafia was not likely to endear him to a jury. Within the dozens of hours of recorded conversations with accountant Steven Corso in Las Vegas, Eppolito had proved himself to be an ardent racist. He talked about "niggers" nearly as constantly as he avowed his love for violence and killing. If this information became evidence in a trial, the prejudicial effect would be enormous. Eppolito would be a deeply unsympathetic character -- especially to a jury likely to include a significant number of African- Americans.

Weinstein leaned heavily in favor of the defense. He decided to disallow" character evidence." This meant the two retired detectives would not be allowed to call witnesses to prove what exemplary members of the force they had been. If such evidence was submitted by the defense, it would "open the door" to the prosecution countering the testimony with their proof of Caracappa and Eppolito's bad character. Thus, the contents of Mafia Cop were excluded from trial. The tapes of recorded conversations in Las Vegas between Corso and Caracappa and Eppolito were to be edited to only the portions that bore directly on proof of guilt of the charges that they had trafficked narcotics and laundered money. Weinstein effectively split the difference, Solomon-like, forcing both sides to concentrate on the substance of the indictment.

Even with the strict limits placed on the government, Henoch proposed putting one hundred witnesses on the stand against Caracappa and Eppolito. The trial would last three to four months, Henoch told Weinstein.

The judge rejected the notion.

"Rethink your trial strategy," Weinstein said testily. He would not countenance the prosecution putting on a case that veered away from the charges. Many judges permitted the government to shape their evidence as they pleased, affording the defense the same opportunity. The approach appeared fair, but too often trials got out of control if attorneys were given too much leeway. Henoch was forced to cast a critical eye over his evidence. "What I was going to leave out was as important as what I was going to put in," Henoch recalled. "We reconfigured the indictment in order to more accurately reflect Steve and Louie's criminal scheme. The focus was properly placed on them, and less on cosa nostra. The two of them were their own criminal enterprise. Associates like Frank Santora, Burton Kaplan, Gaspipe Casso, Steven Corso, and Guido Bravatti came and went in their conspiracy, but the enterprise was ongoing. The case law was solid that a RICO enterprise can consist of two people. It had been done before. It wasn't that novel in that regard. We aimed to capture the essence of who they were and what they did."
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Re: The Brotherhoods: The True Story of Two Cops Who Murdere

Postby admin » Wed Jun 18, 2014 2:22 am



Twenty thousand pages of documents were delivered to the defense attorneys by the federal government during pretrial discovery. They included the FBI debriefings of Anthony Casso, Al D'Arco, Fat Pete Chiodo, and other relevant gangster records; surveillance tapes from Kaplan's Staten Island warehouse; and hundreds of hours of recorded conversations in Las Vegas between Corso and Eppolito and Caracappa.

A bail hearing was held in June 2005. After three months in custody, Eppolito's skin was ghostly and his swept-back pompadour white. The weight he had carried for decades, the sag of a glutton, had begun to disappear. He was fifty pounds lighter than on the evening of the bust at Piero's in Vegas. Aged fifty-seven, he looked a decade older and seemed even more disoriented as he smiled at the faces in the gallery. Caracappa, on the other hand, had regained his bearings. He moved slowly and precisely, staring with black eyes at the press. If incarceration had weakened Eppolito, making him into a pitiable figure, it had turned Caracappa stone cold.

The prosecution opposed the application for bail. Despite the age and ill health of the defendants, Henoch argued, they represented a threat to the public. Weinstein decided to grant Caracappa and Eppolito bail. The terms were onerous. The security required was $5 million. The two men would remain at all times in the houses of local relatives: Caracappa with his mother on Kramer Street on Staten Island, and Eppolito with his brother-in-law on Long Island. Telephone conversations would be conducted only with their attorneys and members of their family. All calls would be recorded and monitored by the government. Both men would wear ankle bracelets with an electronic tracking device to ensure they did not leave their houses. In order to prepare their defense, they were permitted to go to and from their attorneys' offices to review evidence and plan strategy.

"The risk of flight might have appeared minimal," Oldham said. "They were two old guys with dodgy health. But I figured one of them was going to run. I know I'd probably hit the road. Weinstein was a smart old dog, but he was not predictable in any way."

As Eppolito left court that spring day, walking into the shove and shout of the fifty-strong scrum of cameras and reporters trying to make breaking news, he lifted the leg of his argyle elastic-waisted leisure pants and displayed the ankle bracelet. Caracappa did not come out through the public exit. He was allowed to leave the courthouse using a back way, to avoid the frenzy.

Granting bail was an indication that events might be turning in favor of the defense, perhaps decisively. During the summer Eppolito arrived at court surrounded by an entourage of relatives, including his wife and daughter Andrea. He answered questions from reporters and eagerly protested his innocence. The entire case was a frame-up, he said. Stopping at the security checkpoint inside the courthouse, the gregarious and confident Eppolito greeted the court security guards running his possessions through X-ray machines. The guards were retired NYPD cops, some of whom had served with Eppolito. The entire case was an outrageous mistake, Eppolito's manner said, and he clearly imagined himself still to be a member in good standing of the fraternal order of former cops with the NYPD shield on their pinkie-finger rings.

Caracappa, by contrast, arrived alone, or in the company of former Major Case detective Jack Ryan. He kept his counsel, never saying a word or exchanging pleasantries. He was as aloof and austere as he had been fifteen years earlier, when Oldham arrived at Major Case.

The defense's accumulated victories were due to the representation of Eppolito and Caracappa by two of the leading defense lawyers in the country. Bruce Cutler and Eddie Hayes were flamboyant, well-known figures in New York. During preliminary proceedings, as fall turned to winter, Cutler and Hayes arrived for hearings at the courthouse wearing fedoras and trench coats with collars roguishly upturned against the chill. Longtime friends, the two lawyers had deep connections; Cutler had been a groomsman in Hayes's wedding and was godfather to his only daughter. Although wildly different personalities, the pair hosted a legal affairs cable chat show called Cutler & Hayes.

In New York criminal defense attorneys constituted their own tribe, complete with history, ethos, and ancient animosities. The religion of the New York criminal defense bar dictated that certain traditions needed to be upheld. The government, it was to be repeated ad infinitum, was to be suspected and resisted at every turn. The belief system had been shaped to a large degree by RICO. The law invited the possibility for abuse, in the hands of hell-bent investigators and prosecutors. RICO changed the entire idea of criminality in ways that have still not been fully understood. Guilt by association, hearsay, the use of cooperators who have a great deal of self-interest in striking a deal to save their skins -- they are all legitimate concerns. The system is subject to abuse in new and unpredictable ways. The law was being used to fight terrorism. To the extent that the "war on terrorism" involves legal concepts, RICO provides dangerous precedent when applied to networks of association only superficially understood by law enforcement. Religion, ethnicity, and culture can be conflated with conspiracy and criminalized.

The creed of the defense bar had outward manifestations as well. The esthetic demanded that a leading attorney adopt a trademark affectation that branded him in the public consciousness. Cutler was the bald, barrel-chested brawler who didn't just defend mobsters -- he was friend, champion, and fellow traveler, in sympathy if not in fact. Hayes was the quick-witted, light-footed dandy. Wearing bespoke suits and handmade shoes, extremely proud of his appearances on various "best-dressed" lists, Hayes traded on a mixture of blarney and full disclosure about his less than charitable motives in practicing law. He had represented clients ranging from Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue magazine, to Robert De Niro, and the estate of Andy Warhol. Both lawyers admitted to suffering bouts of depression. "Melancholia," Cutler called it. Hayes freely allowed that he wept openly and often and uncontrollably.

To top-shelf criminal attorneys like Cutler and Hayes, the law was only one aspect of a big-time, media-saturated New York City trial. An overall attack needed to be decided upon. What narrative would be related to the public and the jury? How might the defendants be prosecuted? How might the defense prosecute the prosecution? Cutler and Hayes concentrated on the large-scale critical matters: strategy, cross-examination of government witnesses, media relations. But trial work required legal research, drafting motions, understanding the intricacies of arcane precedents and laws. Such details were not handled by lawyers like Cutler and Hayes. Each man needed a book-smart co-counsel attorney, and each happened to prefer a blonde: Bettina Schein, who ably filled that position for Cutler, and former NYPD deputy commissioner of trials Rae Koshetz, who was Hayes's aide-de-camp.

As a courtroom performer, Bruce Cutler was the personification of a mobster lawyer. Adopting a tone of high drama, Cutler described his role as a defense attorney as that of a "roving paladin," a term derived from the twelve peers of Charlemagne's court and meant to refer to a medieval knight of virtue and valor blessed with magical powers to salve wounds with a touch. Cutler had represented Chinese gangsters from the Flying Dragons, mobsters in the Windows Case, Hell's Angels bikers from Quebec, and an NYPD police officer in the infamous Morgue Boys case. But he had gained the largest measure of his fame during the trials and travails of Gambino boss John Gotti -- the "career maker," Cutler wrote in his autobiography, Closing Argument: Defending (and Befriending) John Gotti and Other Legal Battles I Have Waged. In the late eighties, he had represented Gotti for two acquittals, one state and one federal, verdicts that led to the nickname of "The Teflon Don." Over the years, Cutler had frequently met with Gotti at the Ravenite Social Club. In Closing Argument Cutler described accompanying Gotti on the mob boss's "walk-and-talks": "As I sauntered through Little Italy alongside him, turning left now onto Spring Street, I felt singularly alive, as though I were worthy, as though I could get the job done. I would learn that he made everyone feel that way."

Cutler's close identification with Gotti had resulted in the government succeeding in having him excluded from representing his longtime client in the 1992 trial that ended in conviction and a life sentence for the erstwhile Teflon Don. During those proceedings, Cutler was ordered by Judge Eugene Nickerson ("His Majesty," according to Cutler) to refrain from talking to the press during the trial. Cutler had continued to defend the Gambino crime boss, granting interviews to all of New York's major newspapers, as well as to 60 Minutes and Nine Broadcast Plaza -- where he appeared on a panel with Louis Eppolito to defend the mafia. "I went after the Eastern District of New York prosecutors," Cutler wrote in Closing Argument, "accusing them of bad faith and of manufacturing a case against John with the purchased assistance of self-avowed murderers; worse, I called them a 'sick and demented lot,' 'McCarthyites' who'd 'orchestrated' a conspiracy to 'get' John. I'd suggested to one reporter that it would be 'John Gotti today -- you [the public] tomorrow.' In short, I'd told the truth." Cutler was found guilty of contempt of court and sentenced to house arrest, followed by three years of probation and six hundred hours of community service. In October 2005, as the trial of Caracappa and Eppolito neared, Henoch had sought a similar gag order against Cutler and Hayes. The two attorneys had discussed the forthcoming trial on their cable television show, with Cutler claiming the defense would win, "knock on wood," and saying that the indictment was "legally defective." The motion was denied -- and Cutler continued to hold forth to the press.

Eddie Hayes, by contrast, had little interest in wiseguy cases. He did, however, have an avowed interest in the prospects of Eddie Hayes. "What's in it for Eddie?" was the first question he asked himself when considering taking on a client. The week before the trial began, Eddie Hayes published his autobiography, Mouthpiece: A Life in -- and Sometimes Just Outside -- the Law. Dedicated to novelist Tom Wolfe, who found in Hayes the inspiration for the defense lawyer Tommy Killian in The Bonfire of the Vanities, Hayes's book tells the tale of his rise from childhood under the rule of an abusive alcoholic father in working-class Queens to the heights of Manhattan society. [3]

Why did Hayes take on the case? His practice was thriving and he didn't need the money. There were powerful attractions, however. Hayes had remained close to cop culture since his days as a Bronx prosecutor, developing ties with a number of leading detectives in the Major Case Squad -- and meeting Oldham during his Biggie Smalls rap investigation, when Hayes represented Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs at the height of hiphop violence. Most of the allegations against Caracappa were not new, nor were they believed by many detectives who were friends of Caracappa and were convinced the case was the result of a mob-concocted conspiracy against an OC colleague. Hayes also craved the action of a trial that promised to be one for the ages. The wave of publicity couldn't hurt sales of his book, and, for the first time, Hayes would team up with his old friend Bruce Cutler. Hayes had represented Caracappa in 1994, when Casso's allegations first surfaced, so he would be seeing the job through to the end.

And then there was the substance of the case-especially Burton Kaplan and the government's use of cooperating witnesses. In Mouthpiece, Hayes wrote of growing up as an Irish Catholic kid in Queens. He and his friends all held the same beliefs, Hayes wrote. "Chief among these was the idea that the worst thing you can do is rat out a friend, and that if you did you would (and should) be killed ... The Irish don't rat. Bounce them off the wall for a week and they won't tell you a thing."


The arrest of Caracappa and Eppolito and coverage of the ongoing pretrial hearings summoned ghosts from the city's past. A New York attorney named Barry Scheck, who had once been part of O. J. Simpson's defense team, recognized the name of Louis Eppolito. Scheck had been instrumental in founding the Innocence Project, a legal clinic run out of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law that was dedicated to using DNA evidence to exonerate the wrongly convicted. One of the Innocence Project's cases involved a convict named Barry Gibbs. In 1988, Gibbs had been found guilty of the murder of Virginia Robertson, a twenty-seven-year- old black woman with prostitution convictions and a drug abuse problem. Her body had been found dumped in the weeds next to the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn. She had been wearing a rust-colored fur coat and there were rope burns around her neck. Detective Louis Eppolito from the Six-Three ended up with the case.

At the time, Gibbs had worked for the U.S. Postal Service for seventeen years. He, too, had a substance abuse problem. Gibbs had recently had an "encounter" with Robertson. Gibbs worked nights at a Brooklyn deli. Detective Eppolito came into the deli one night and took a can of soda from the refrigerator and drank it. He put the empty can on the counter. "You got a problem with me?" Eppolito asked Gibbs defiantly. "Yeah," Gibbs said. "You didn't pay for the soda." Eppolito threw money on the counter and left.

Two days later he was back. He put Gibbs in the backseat of his car with no explanation and took him to the Six-Three precinct house. There Eppolito showed Gibbs photographs of Robertson. He asked Gibbs if he knew her. Gibbs said no. Polaroids were taken of Gibbs and he was placed in a holding cell. Eppolito arranged for a lineup, and Gibbs agreed to submit to it, but when he saw the other participants he balked. None looked like him; all the men were much shorter and bore no resemblance. Gibbs was instructed to sit.

Convicted of murder as a result of Detective Eppolito's investigation, Gibbs had protested his innocence ever since. He had been framed, he said. The plea was common in prisons, but Gibbs had an unusually interesting case, Scheck believed. Gibbs had been convicted primarily on the say-so of a single eyewitness and the testimony of a jailhouse informant who swore that Gibbs had confessed to him in jail. "Each of the key pieces of evidence was incredibly weak," Oldham said. "Eyewitnesses need to be corroborated if a verdict is going to be reliable. Jailhouse informants make up stories all the time. If a prisoner knows a cop is after a guy, he'll write a novel about him. If a cop is dirty, all he has to do is drop a hint about his perp and the jailhouse will fill with canaries singing a cappella about the guy. Reading the homicide file, the Gibbs case was a monument to bad detective work."

But Scheck had been unable to have the case revived in the courts. He lacked DNA or any scientific evidence upon which he could base an appeal. The news of Eppolito's arrest rang a bell. Scheck recalled Eppolito had been the detective leading the investigation into Gibbs. Scheck didn't have to tell Gibbs. The name Louie Eppolito was branded on Gibbs's mind. As he wasted away in state prison, Gibbs had seen Detective Eppolito a number of times in the years since his conviction. Watching the movie Goodfellas, he caught sight of Eppolito in a bit role. Sitting in the common room in jail, he saw Eppolito promoting Mafia Cop on the Sally Jessy Raphael Show. At five in the morning on the day after Eppolito's arrest, Gibbs had heard a broadcast describing the arrest of two NYPD "mafia cops" -- and heard the name Louie Eppolito. Gibbs had screamed with joy, "There is a God!"

During the search of Eppolito's house in Las Vegas, the NYPD's file on the Robertson murder was discovered in Eppolito's cabinet, setting into motion a review of the case. At the same time, Scheck contacted prosecutors in the Eastern District. In the spring, a DEA agent interviewed the eyewitness who had claimed to see Gibbs kill Virginia Robertson. Peter Mitchell, an ex-Marine, told the DEA and the press a story Eppolito would later deny. Mitchell said he had been out jogging on the day of the murder. He called the police after he saw a man dragging a body to the side of the road. According to Mitchell, Eppolito brought him to the 63rd Precinct and threatened him. If Mitchell didn't testify against Gibbs, the heavyset detective reportedly said, he would plant drugs in the home of Mitchell's mother and arrest her for possession of narcotics. Being a black man in Brooklyn, Mitchell was aware of the power of a corrupt cop.

Eppolito's capture gave Gibbs new hope. On September 30, 2005, Alan Feuer reported in the New York Times that upon hearing of the arrest, "Mr. Gibbs raised his hands over his head, rubbing them gleefully together, then brought them down in a prayerful gesture." Gibbs said he was going to eat lobster tail and crab meat. "I knew I was innocent," Gibbs told reporters, "I just had to make people believe me."

The next day, the New York Post followed up on the Gibbs story with the headline, "Slain Gal's Ma: 'I'll Fight to Lock Up That Liar.''' Virginia Robertson's seventy-eight-year-old mother told the Post Detective Eppolito had given her false comfort at the time of her daughter's murder. Mrs. Robertson's husband was a retired Brooklyn cop. On the day of her daughter's death, Robertson's mother told the Post, Eppolito had come to her home to tell her the news. Informing the family of a homicide victim of the death of a loved one was a particularly melancholy duty for any police officer. Eppolito told the shocked and grieving mother that her daughter had talked to him, saying she hadn't meant to die like this.

"But Virginia Robertson had been found dead," Oldham said. "Eppolito had responded to a DOA. He had never had an opportunity to talk to the victim. He was turning the awful reality of a murder into a chance to aggrandize himself, be the hero cop, always at the center of his own drama. He was telling a story that was supposed to assuage the pain of the Robertsons. He would solve the case. Eppolito had promised to catch the killer. Barry Gibbs was his instrument of justice -- no matter what Gibbs hadn't done. As long as Eppolito got another medal, it didn't matter."

The Robertsons had found closure with Gibbs's conviction, it seemed, until the arrest of Eppolito brought to life the death of their daughter. "Eppolito is a liar," Mrs. Robertson told the Post. "How can dead people talk?" she asked in despair.

Eppolito vehemently denied the allegation. Cutler told the Post that Eppolito was "more upset" about the accusation than any of the other crimes he was charged with. "It cut to the core, angered, and frustrated him more so than anything else," Cutler said. Eppolito had been instructed by Cutler not to speak to the media, but he was convinced of his ability to convince others of his innocence, and while leaving a hearing in the Brooklyn federal courthouse, he told a group of journalists that he had not framed Gibbs for the Robertson murder. He had taken the murder file from the records of the Six-Three for a good reason, he said. "I had that file in my house because I was going to write a television show about the case," Eppolito said.


The last legal question outstanding before a trial could commence was the most important -- and most difficult. From the beginning, Judge Weinstein was troubled by the issue of the time limits in RICO cases. "It's a very thin connection between the end of the acts of these defendants in New York and what was happening in Las Vegas," Weinstein told the prosecutors. "The weight of the evidence is not strong, particularly in the light of the statute of limitations."

In response, Henoch altered the legal thesis underlying the RICO charges. At first, it had been alleged that the criminal enterprise to which Caracappa and Eppolito belonged was the Luchese family. The amended prosecution case said that Caracappa, Eppolito, and Kaplan constituted their own racketeering enterprise. If Eppolito and Caracappa constituted a miniature mafia, then the crime wave of the eighties and early nineties could be tied to their ongoing criminal activity in Las Vegas.

Weinstein's admonitions to the prosecution about the statute of limitations caused a commotion in the press. Weinstein's statements about the "weakness" of the case was only meant to refer to the statute of limitations, not to the factual allegations regarding murder, kidnapping, obstruction of justice, and the rest. Many reports conflated the two aspects of the case. The defense filed a motion to dismiss the charges and a hearing was held. Weinstein listened patiently to the legal arguments. The motion was denied. It became clear that the statute of limitations was the lone cause of Weinstein's criticism of the government's case. The charges against the two former NYPD officers were "horrendous," Judge Weinstein said. It was "vital for the public" to be allowed to try a "case which raises such serious doubts about the police department." "The defendants are entitled to put the government to proof regarding such grave insinuations." Weinstein glowered over his reading glasses. "This case has to be tried, and it will be tried."


At ten o'clock on the morning jury selection was to commence, there was no sign of Louis Eppolito. Hours late, he arrived. His failure to appear in federal court on time seemed to Eppolito of little consequence. In the hallway he explained to reporters that there had been a massive backup in traffic coming from Long Island, where he was staying with relatives. He had no access to a cell phone so he hadn't been able to send word that the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway had been turned into a parking lot.

Judge Weinstein was not interested in Eppolito's excuse. "Arrest that man," the judge snarled at the sight of Eppolito. Startled, Eppolito was placed in handcuffs by marshals. Faced with forfeiture of his parole, Eppolito appeared terrified as Cutler explained the circumstances to the judge. The aged Weinstein, it was apparent to observers, was capable of sudden and unexpected mood swings. He sternly admonished Eppolito not to be late again, and renewed the terms of his bail.

After the hearing, seasoned Daily News reporter and ex-cop John Marzulli shared the elevator down to the ground floor with Eddie Hayes. "Off the record," Marzulli asked, "was there a moment when you thought maybe Louie made a run for it?"

Hayes laughed. "I thought maybe he had a heart attack, to the tell the truth," Hayes said.

Jury selection in United States v. Stephen Caracappa and Louis Eppolito began with a pool of more than one hundred potential jurors gathered in the large ceremonial court on the second floor of the federal courthouse in Brooklyn. The walls were lined with oil portraits of distinguished jurists from the past. A forty-two question form was distributed. "Do you believe there are such entities as organized crime families, La Cosa Nostra, or the Mafia?" those present were asked. "Have you read the book, Mafia Cop: The Story of an Honest Cop Whose Family Was the Mob?" Weinstein addressed the assembled citizenry. "The trial will be dull and tedious at times," he said. "But for many of you it will be the most interesting experience of your life."

A parade of potential jurors formed before the bench, all of whom sought to escape their duty. Their claims ranged from financial hardship -- jurors would be paid $40 per day -- to the need to care for family members. Judge Weinstein heard the pleas with limited patience. "I'm nervous," said one man. "I'm scared," said another. A middle-aged woman was shaking as she sat down. Weinstein allowed them all to leave. "Why would the defendant hire a mob lawyer? No offense, Mr. Cutler," a beefy man asked, securing his dismissal.

The final jury consisted of a cross-section of metropolitan New York's polyglot, with an overrepresentation of black women -- six of the twelve empaneled. The majority was drawn from Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island, strongholds for law-and-order jurors. "Defendants want a particular kind of juror, as a rule, depending on their own racial and social profile. The prosecution want the opposite. In this case there was no clear way to know what kind of jury either side wanted. A bias against the police cut both ways. Caracappa and Eppolito were allegedly two dirty cops, so if you were inclined to believe police could be criminals -- if you had directly experienced police corruption-then you would be open to the idea of two cops working as hit men for the mafia. But dirty cops needed to be caught. It was a wash. Prejudice for or against cops was going to matter a lot less than facts. Proof was what the government needed. Reasonable doubt was all the defense had to raise."

Days before the trial was to begin, Caracappa's attorneys issued a subpoena to compel the production of the manuscript for this book. The subpoena demanded Simon & Schuster hand over to the defense all materials pertaining to the publishing agreement, notes taken by Oldham related to the investigation, and the book proposal written by the authors. In particular, the subpoena sought any documents regarding the visit by Oldham and Joe Ponzi to Burt Kaplan at the Metropolitan Detention Center in their attempt to get him to cooperate. Such details were "highly relevant to the defense of this case," the defense's letter to Judge Weinstein said. "Moreover, in light of Oldham's self-professed leading role in the investigation, the particulars of his deal with the publisher to write a self-aggrandizing book are highly relevant to the exploration of his motives to propel the investigation of this matter to indictment and conviction of the defendants, his potential bias, and the possibility that exculpatory material is lurking in notes and memoranda that he might have held back for publication at a later time."

Judge Weinstein heard a motion to quash the subpoena argued for the publisher by Elizabeth McNamara, an attorney retained by Simon & Schuster. The authors were summoned from the gallery to answer questions. Judge Weinstein asked why the defense didn't simply call Oldham to testify if it wanted to know what had transpired during Oldham's encounters with Kaplan, instead of making an end run and trying to compel a publisher to provide confidential material.

"I understood the gambit," Oldham recalled. "The defense wasn't going to call me. I wasn't going to help them get Steve and Louie off by testifying. But there was a chance I could help them by not testifying. One of the defense theories was that I had concocted the whole case in order to write a book and cast myself as the hero. There was one small problem-the evidence. The argument was flimsy, to be kind. They needed the jury to believe an evil detective had dreamed up a diabolical plot against two innocent law-abiding officers of the law."

Judge Weinstein had little patience for these arguments. The matter was an "open-and-shut quash motion," he said. Freedom of the press required that the defense's attempt to obtain the publisher's confidential materials be rebuffed. If the defense wished to question Oldham about his interrogation of Kaplan or any matter related to the case or the publication of the book, all it had to do was subpoena Oldham as a witness.

"Judge Throws 'Book' at Mob Cops' Defense" read the headline in the New York Post the next day.


Not long before, 60 Minutes once again became a player in the case. This time the CBS show claimed the exclusive of an interview with the aggrieved Stephen Caracappa. Ed Bradley spoke to Caracappa in the Manhattan law offices of Eddie Hayes. Caracappa said he was speaking on behalf of Eppolito, who had declined the offer to be interviewed.

"Caracappa was willing to go on television and talk about the case," Oldham said. "But he wasn't going to stand up in court and answer any questions that Henoch might ask him because he would surely be cut to shreds. He'd probably take the Fifth within seconds. As for the idea that Eppolito declined the interview request, to me it only indicated the degree to which Caracappa controlled Eppolito. Steve wouldn't let Louie make a move without his say-so. That was why Caracappa was looking over the movie deal Corso proposed in Las Vegas. Ed Bradley wasn't going to ask Caracappa any of the hard questions.

"Even after the arrest, Eppolito was unpredictable." He had been instructed by Cutler not to talk to the press but at every court appearance he stopped and held a press conference, as if protesting his innocence loudly and often enough would make it so. There was no way Caracappa was going to let Eppolito represent them on the most popular newsmagazine on the air."

Given the opportunity to put forward his case, Caracappa opted for a defense of outright and outraged denial. The charges were ridiculous, Caracappa told Bradley. "Anybody who knows me knows I love the police department," Caracappa said. "I couldn't kill anybody. I shot a guy once on the job and I still think about it. It bothers me."

A portion of the 1998 interview of Casso with 60 Minutes was aired. "I have two detectives that work the major squad team for the New York City Police Department," Casso had told Bradley in 1998.

"What were their names?" Bradley had asked Casso in the clip.

"Lou Eppolito and Steve -- Steve- I can't -- he's got a long last name. Cappa --"


"Yeah," Casso had said to Bradley. "Caracapra, whatever it is. I can't say it all the time, you know. Louie's a big guy, he works out. Steve is a small, skinny guy."

In the 1998 footage, Casso had described the kidnapping of Jimmy Hydell in 1986 and the delivery of the still-living Hydell to Casso in the Toys 'R' Us parking lot. "At that time, I gave Louie and Steve, I think, $45,000. They wanted to kill him for me. They were going do whatever I wanted with him."

On the 2006 broadcast Caracappa looked at Bradley impassively and calmly denied knowing Hydell and Casso. He claimed that he didn't know why Casso would lie but speculated that it might be "to save himself."

The former OCHU expert assigned to collect intelligence on the Luchese family neglected to mention that he had spent the best part of a decade studying the inner workings of Casso's crime family. Running the name Nicky Guido through the system, as the cadre's investigation had discovered, was a fact Caracappa did not dispute. Bradley asked incredulously if Caracappa was claiming that the records search and the subsequent murder of the wrong Nicky Guido were merely a coincidence. Caracappa said he ran countless names during his career. The check on Guido was properly documented in NYPD files, Caracappa claimed -- excluding the fact that the search had been disguised by putting the name in a cluster of other names Caracappa was running in an unrelated case.

"I was a New York City detective for twenty-three years," Caracappa said. "We don't go around killing people. I did not kill Eddie Lino. I'm not a cowboy."

Being a member of the police force did not automatically make you a good guy, Bradley said. There were a number of instances of cops who became killers.

Caracappa agreed.

"That's not a good answer, to say, 'I didn't do it because I'm on the job,''' Bradley said.

"It's my answer because I have pride in myself, Mr. Bradley," Caracappa said. "I wouldn't put my life in jeopardy, my family, disgrace the badge, disgrace the city, take everything that I'd worked for my whole life and throw it away and kill somebody in the street like a cowboy. That's not my style."

"If you felt you wouldn't get caught?" Bradley asked.

"Get caught?" Caracappa asked. "Everybody gets caught. The person who did this is going to get caught."

Caracappa met the camera's gaze with steady, cold eyes. Eppolito was not the monster the newspapers portray him to be, he said, adding that they would put up evidence to show that they could not have committed the crimes. We just couldn't have done them."

On 60 Minutes, Caracappa took his chances in the court of public opinion. On camera he attempted to come across as earnest and sincerely puzzled by the circumstances that had engulfed his life. He offered a defense of Eppolito. "If you knew Louie Eppolito and you spoke to Louie Eppolito and you spent any time with him, you would see he couldn't do that," Caracappa said. "The guy's gentle."

The face of Barry Gibbs appeared on screen. Gibbs was in late middle age, bearded, wearing a turquoise pendant, giving him the appearance of an aged hippy. He was extremely angry for being framed for the November 1986 murder of Virginia Robertson. Eppolito was shown offering his defense. "I was a very highly decorated cop," Eppolito said. "I worked very hard my whole life, and I want the people to know that I'm not the person that they are portraying me."

Ed Bradley asked Caracappa one final question. "You must know that if you get convicted on even one of these murder charges, you'll go down in history as one of the most corrupt cops in the history of the department."

"That's true, Mr. Bradley," Caracappa said. "But I won't be convicted because I didn't do this. I won't --" He stopped himself. "I didn't do it, so I'm not going to be convicted. I won't have that on my epithet."

In all likelihood Caracappa meant to say "epitaph," which is a memorializing inscription on a tombstone. An "epithet" is a term of revilement or contempt. A slip of the tongue, perhaps.

The appearance was the first and last time the former Major Case Squad detective spoke publicly about the case.



1. When he decided to tell his account of the investigation of Caracappa and Eppolito, Oldham didn't quite know how to present himself to potential publishers. He had no literary agent, and his tendency to mumble and speak obliquely did not suggest that he was ready for prime time. Eventually, of course, he found an interested publisher -- the publisher of this book.

2. It was in that proceeding that Gaspipe Casso had hoped to testify for the government, and thereby qualify for a light sentence. Weinstein was also close with Judge Eugene Nickerson, the federal court eminence whom Casso had plotted to kill while he was in the MCC awaiting his own trial on RICO charges.

3. Mouthpiece offered a surprisingly intimate portrait of Hayes's interior life, from bouts of depression to descriptions of sexual escapades. As a prosecutor in the Bronx during the crime-plagued seventies, he wrote that he often spent his nights in libertine midtown Manhattan clubs like Studio 54. "This was when transgender operations were still very new," Hayes wrote in Mouthpiece. "I didn't know what was going to happen when I brought someone I'd met in one of those places home with me one night. She was gorgeous and I had seen her in clubs for months. When I took her attractive, tight-fitting dress off, I saw she had the whole deal! She had worked hard and gone through great pain to turn herself from an effeminate guy from Spanish Harlem into a beautiful woman. I was game. I was too ill at ease for it to be a great sexual experience, but what I liked about New York at that time was that you could go out and something was always going to happen, something you couldn't begin to predict."
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Re: The Brotherhoods: The True Story of Two Cops Who Murdere

Postby admin » Wed Jun 18, 2014 2:23 am



Monday, March 13, 2006, was a cold and windy late winter day. Dozens of reporters and television crews from New York and around the country and the world gathered in the chill outside the federal courthouse in downtown Brooklyn as the protagonists in United States v. Stephen Caracappa and Louis Eppolito arrived for the first day of trial. For years the building had been covered in scaffolding as a new office tower was constructed. The scaffolding came down and the structure was opened as the trial of the detectives began. Set apart from the foot traffic in downtown Brooklyn, the courthouse finally had a grand facade to match the dramas that unfolded within it. Other high-profile organized crime cases were being tried or pending -- the erstwhile Teflon Don's son John Gotti Jr., Bonanno wiseguy and beauty salon owner Vinny "Gorgeous" Basciano. But those cases were a sideshow compared to the trial of the "mafia cops."

The gallery in Judge Jack Weinstein's fourth-floor court was packed shoulder to shoulder. The rear rows were set aside for law enforcement, and some of the men in the cadre from the Brooklyn DA's office were in attendance, including Joe Ponzi and Bobby Intartaglio. Two rows of press were shoved tightly into the front rows. Staying clear of the courthouse because he was a potential witness, and following his longstanding practice of avoiding days in court as much as possible, Oldham was a notable absence.

In keeping with the scarcely believable accusations, the number of book projects attached to the case seemed to grow with each passing week. In the New York Times, reporter Alan Feuer's coverage wryly emphasized the bizarre book bonanza. Tommy Dades had entered into a deal, with rumored Hollywood movie rights attached, collaborating with Brooklyn Assistant District Attorney Mike Vecchione. Jimmy Breslin, the noted New York City columnist and author of the classic mob novel The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight, was said to be working on a book about the case. Sitting next to Breslin was Jane McCormick, the former Vegas girl-around-town who had paid Eppolito her life savings to write the screenplay of her life. She had flown from Minnesota to witness the trial for the autobiography she was now writing. Beside McCormick was Louie Eppolito Jr., Eppolito's son from his first marriage. Louie junior, with a shaved head and a quiet manner, worked in a vitamin warehouse in New Jersey. His life partner Rob Gortner ran a dog-grooming salon in a quaint rural village in New Jersey. The younger Eppolito was said to be seeking a deal to write a book with a reporter from the Philadelphia Inquirer that would focus on his relationship with his father. Greg B. Smith of the Daily News was contracted to write a book on the case. Finally, sitting quietly in a corner of the court, professor Jefferey Morris from Touro College Law Center in Huntington, New York, was in the midst of a decade-long scholarly study of Judge Weinstein's life on the bench. In addition to this, the judge, both defense attorneys, and one of the defendants were all authors of books.

As Judge Weinstein called the court to order, the room bristled with anticipation. Opening statements were to be given first by the prosecution and then the counsel for each defendant. Mitra Hormozi spoke for the government. The usual pecking order in a RICO prosecution with three attorneys on the case was for the junior-most lawyer to give the opening statement, the second-most senior to handle the closing statement, and the lead, in this case Henoch, to make the final argument and have the last say to the jury -- the rebuttal summation. The last was considered the most difficult, with no real time for preparation, and therefore the most desirable.

But Henoch had asked his second in command, Hormozi, to present the opening statement. Setting the tone of the trial was critical to success. Hormozi's appearance was in stark contrast to the onslaught of blood and betrayal she described. Disarmingly attractive, with large eyes and dark hair pulled back in a ponytail, Hormozi looked like an intelligent, pretty, and diligent young attorney -- hardly the vicious government lawyer conspiring to frame two NYPD cops that defense counsel Bruce Cutler and Eddie Hayes hoped to convince the jury she was. Her voice was sweet and innocent, but her address was strong and unblinking and direct as she described the crimes of Caracappa and Eppolito. Hormozi began with the morning that Israel Greenwald disappeared forever. He was late for work, Hormozi told the jury, but before he left his young daughter at the bus stop for the last time, Israel Greenwald put his briefcase down, walked back to Michal, and gave her a final kiss -- the last time she would ever see her father.

Next came Bruce Cutler. In and out of court, his approach was a unique combination of bombastic Brooklyn grandiloquence spiced with an exceedingly courtly manner. If Cutler appeared to be playing a role it was because he was, in fact, acting -- even as he represented a failed actor in Louis Eppolito. In Closing Argument Cutler described his experience acting the part of a crooked attorney in the Robert De Niro film 15 Minutes and acting as defense counsel. "My style is to adopt the role of my client before the jury," Cutler wrote. "Most lawyers don't need to do this. I do. In order to get motivated, to enter the zone of indignation, sorrow, or elation I seek, I need to feel that I am portraying someone other than who I really am. Call me a method lawyer. My courtroom style is a performance, acting."

Prowling around the courtroom, Cutler offered disdain for the gangsters who had become informants and would be called as witnesses, thereby destroying the traditions of the mafia. "The so-called mafia had rules that were torn asunder years ago," Cutler declaimed. "It has no cachet now. It's desultory and decadent and filled with lowlives who run to mommy when they're in trouble. They wet their pants and run to mommy -- the federal government." Cutler said that Eppolito could have been a mobster, if he had so desired. But he did not follow the path of his father and his grandfather. "Louie did as Teddy Roosevelt did," Cutler said. "He joined a priesthood. He eschewed his father's life. Lou said no. Not for me. Not. For. Me. He had the courage to say no."

Eppolito joined "the blue gang," making a meager salary and dedicating himself to law and order, Cutler continued. "He received medals for honor, bravery, and valor, risking his life for you and me. His chest wouldn't hold all the medals, as big as his chest was." Eppolito had even written a book about his life, Cutler said. The title Eppolito gave the work was "Man in the Middle." Cutler said the publisher redubbed it with the more commercial, oxymoronic name Mafia Cop. "Louie Eppolito was out, proud, and unashamed," Cutler emoted. "But for the book, there would be no case."

Eddie Hayes was impeccably attired in a pinstriped Savile Row bespoke suit as he rose to make his opening statement. The essence of the case, he said, was a plot by gangsters to undermine law enforcement by concocting elaborate fantasies about detectives and federal agents collaborating toward nefarious ends. "Gangsters learned that the best way to get themselves out of trouble and keep their money was to turn on the people who were chasing them. Steve Caracappa was high on that list." The prosecution would try to portray Caracappa as a cold-blooded killer, Hayes said. It was a challenge Stephen Caracappa relished taking up, Hayes said. The defense was not afraid of the evidence the government would present.

"Bring it on," Hayes said.


The government's trial strategy was to begin with a quotidian Christmas Day twenty years earlier. Henoch aimed to put a human face on the case, to display to the jury that the case was not a mob melodrama, nor a book deal opportunity, nor the premise for a feature film. The prosecution was going to tell a true crime story with victims, blood, and suffering -- a reality that required the jury to look through the obvious sensationalism to see why the case mattered. The first witness was Sergeant Michael Cugno, who was a newly minted patrol cop assigned to the Seven-Two in 1986. That day Officer Cugno had responded to a radio run to 499 17th Street in the Windsor Terrace section of Brooklyn in the middle of Christmas celebrations. Cugno found a young man slumped in the front seat of a new red Nissan Maxima. The young man was covered in blood and he was not breathing. Cugno was shown a photograph of the crime scene, nearly twenty years old now. He recalled the scene well, he said. Nicky Guido was his first homicide. The lights were lowered and a murder scene photograph of Guido was displayed on a large screen using an overhead projector. The jury turned to see the dead young man with his new white winter coat crimson with blood.

The next witness was Pauline Pipitone, the mother of the dead man. An elderly Italian woman, stooped and walking slowly, she entered with her eyes downcast. She testified that her son had gone to Catholic school in Brooklyn, worked for the telephone company, and liked baseball and bowling. He had never gotten in trouble with the law. Christmas dinner in 1986 had started with the family gathering at noon. Her son had been given the white winter coat as a present. She had given her boy a golden crucifix necklace. Guido had wanted to show his uncle his new car. "I started washing the dishes while Nicholas went outside," she testified. "My brother-in-law came in screaming, 'They shot Nicholas.' I went over to the car and his heart was beating. I went to touch his hands and his fingertips were cold." Mrs. Pipitone said her husband had taken the death of their son very badly. Heartbroken, he died three years later, Pipitone testified. Silence fell upon the courtroom as she looked around with bewildered grief, casting her eyes on Caracappa and Eppolito, and then dropping her head.

Tone established, Henoch then threw the jury into the criminal culture of the case. Luchese wiseguy Little Al D'Arco emerged through the door behind Judge Weinstein's bench, the entrance reserved for criminals and witnesses under government protection. D'Arco was a small, wiry, angry man, in the mold of Jimmy Cagney playing the lippy bad guy in classic gangster films from the thirties like Little Caesar -- the movie that gave RICO its name.

"Al D'Arco was put on to give the jury the mafia background," Henoch recalled. "It was important that the jury get used to hearing from criminals, if Kaplan was going to be credible. Burt was a bad guy but he wasn't as bad as D'Arco. Little Al would absorb the body blows from Cutler and Hayes. He had testified in ten mob trials so he was experienced. It would give me the chance to see how the cross-examination would go. I wanted to know if the old bombastic Bruce Cutler was going to appear, shouting and carrying on, or if he was going to put on a more muted presentation. I wanted to see what the judge was going to allow. I didn't want to minimize D'Arco's crimes. I was going to make him out to be the murderer he was. Some federal prosecutors try to sugarcoat their witnesses. Not in an illegal or unethical way -- just to play it down. I do the opposite. I learned this when I was doing state cases for the Manhattan DA in the Homicide Investigation Unit. I would tell juries that the case was about the murder of a drug dealer. It will involve violent criminals and drug dealers because those are the kinds of people who know the most about violent crime and drug dealing. Wall Street brokers testify in an insider-dealing case, nurses in medical malpractice suits. The same thing applies to violent crime."

D'Arco explained the structure of the mafia to the jury, familiarizing them with the organization and basic terminology. But it was D'Arco's description of the intimate and corrupting relationship between the mob and law enforcement that provided the substance and surprise of his evidence. The entire world of organized crime was awash in rumors, treachery, and double dealing. Access to a source inside the government was not unusual for senior and successful gangsters. During the eighties, Colombo wiseguy Wild Bill Cutolo had uniformed NYPD officers on his payroll, D'Arco testified. Luchese Steve Crea had a DEA special agent working for him. Sal Avellino, the Long Island garbage carting Luchese, paid a government agent in the Gambino task force squad, D'Arco said. But no one was as connected as Vic Amuso and Gaspipe Casso. The Luchese boss and underboss had informants with unrivalled access to the most sensitive law enforcement intelligence. Amuso and Casso had been very careful about keeping the identities of their source inside law enforcement from their colleagues in the Luchese family. It was the same story D'Arco had told the FBI more than fifteen years earlier when he flipped and went into the Witness Protection Program. Amuso and Casso called their source "the bulls," D'Arco said, the mob term for NYPD detectives. The "bulls" were paid $4,000 a month, D'Arco said, but he didn't know the names or any identifying details about them.

In October 1991, D'Arco's revelations had been documented in FBI 302s, which had then been provided to the defense as part of pretrial discovery. On cross-examination, Bruce Cutler demanded to know why D'Arco was using the term "bulls" during his testimony when the word appeared nowhere in the 302s. Tempers quickly rose as D'Arco and Cutler argued about the ability of gangsters to tell the truth. The obvious explanation for the discrepancy between D'Arco's testimony about "the bulls" and the term "law enforcement sources" in the 302s was that D'Arco did not write the 302s himself. FBI agents, with little sense of the streets of New York and idioms, took the proffered particulars and turned mob lingo into prose that could be understood by lawyers in distant offices who had no clue how gangsters actually spoke.

"Did you have any moral compunction?" Cutler asked D'Arco, describing his years as a killer on behalf of Gaspipe Casso. The question was bellowed with indignation.

"Keep your voice down, pal," D'Arco said.

"Wouldn't you agree with me --"

"I wouldn't agree with you on anything," D'Arco interrupted.

"You okayed the induction of your son Joseph into the mafia," Cutler said.

"You're twisting my words around," D'Arco snapped. "I remember you at [a restaurant called] Taormina with all the crew there and you drank with them and ate with them and never picked up the tab."

Taking the bait, Cutler was red with fury as he prowled around the courtroom loudly calling out questions and trying to turn D'Arco's defiance into advantage for the defense. D'Arco matched Cutler's anger, threatening to turn the proceedings into chaos. The questions were leading nowhere, it seemed, other than toward further screaming.

"I can yell louder than you!" D'Arco shrieked at Cutler.

"Enough," Judge Weinstein yelled at Cutler. "Your cross-examination is finished."

"The defense was on the defense from the start," Henoch recalled. "They expected a conventional mob prosecution, with a procession of convicted criminals like Fat Pete Chiodo and Georgie Neck Zappola appearing on the stand to the tell the jury about their life of crime and Casso's 'cops.' That wasn't the way it was going to go. The judge wanted me to pare my case back. It was a blessing in disguise. I wanted the jury to focus on what happened. I wanted the jury to focus on the defendants, not the character of government witnesses. I wasn't going to put on a mob case -- I was going to put on a corrupt cop case."

Henoch used the analogy of judo to describe his approach. The word judo translates from the Japanese as "the way of giving way." Instead of meeting force with force, in judo a combatant invites and allows the strengths of his opponent to work to his advantage. Instead of fighting the characterization of his witnesses as despicable killers and mobsters, bribed with the promise of leniency to lie for the government, Henoch readily admitted D'Arco's pedigree as a villain -- as he did for all of the cooperators he put on the stand. Using the egos of defense attorneys in a productive way was also one of Henoch's aims. There was no point in fighting Cutler and Hayes as they clashed with cooperators. Calling upon the jury to hear his gangster witnesses with a degree of skepticism matched to their criminal pasts, Henoch believed, worked to his advantage. All the more reason to listen carefully to what they had to say to determine if it was credible.


The first government witnesses had proved valuable to the prosecution but Burton Kaplan, all knew, was the case. Setting up his testimony was critical. NYPD Detective Thomas Limberg was called. For sixteen years, Limberg had been assigned to a joint task force investigating organized crime in New York City. Limberg's specific assignment was the Luchese family -- the family Caracappa also worked on. Pretrial, Hayes had suggested that Kaplan was a secret cooperator before he flipped against Caracappa and Eppolito. To rebut the argument up front, Limberg testified that Kaplan had refused to cooperate when he was arrested in 1996 and had never cooperated to his knowledge. Detective Limberg told the court that Kaplan's telephone book had been seized twice during arrests over a period of more than a decade. The contents of the phone book were vital to the case. Limberg read out the names Kaplan had listed: Bonanno member Jerry Chilli, former Luchese boss Vic Amuso, with his inmate number in Terre Haute, Indiana, as well as someone named "Marco."

Henoch had spent months preparing Kaplan, and as the vicissitudes of the case continued to unfold during the year before trial, Kaplan had remained very reluctant to testify. Kaplan felt genuinely unhappy cooperating, unlike many who take pleasure in finally coming clean. Henoch had continued to reassure Kaplan -- and perhaps himself, as well -- as Kaplan vented about feeling terrible as a rat. Flipping Burt was not a done deal, Henoch believed, until the moment Kaplan stood before the court, raised his right hand, and swore to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

On the third day of the trial, Kaplan appeared from the wooden door behind Judge Weinstein's bench to a hushed gallery. Eppolito twitched his head and neck and swallowed hard, a tic that would be repeated for the remainder of the proceedings. Caracappa's face remained impassive but alert. Kaplan was wearing a blue suit. He was small, trim, bald, and wore thick eyeglasses. His voice was steady, his words clipped and spoken in a Brooklyn accent. Seventy-two years old, he testified that his health was not good. Among his ailments had been two minor strokes, three detached retinas, prostate cancer, high blood pressure, and Reynaud's disease.

On the stand Kaplan appeared calm, collected, despite the fact that his entire adult life had been dedicated to avoiding precisely this moment. Ratting represented the lowest form of human endeavor to Kaplan. Monotone, matter-of-fact, able to describe the murder of a mob informant in the same tone of voice as he used when he talked about distributing Disco brand jeans, it was easy for an observer to misapprehend Kaplan's state of mind. "Kaplan didn't seem especially troubled that he had become, in his old age, exactly the sort of turncoat that he and his associates aimed to kill," Ben McGrath reported for the New Yorker.

In a typical case, Henoch believed, the jury gave their undivided attention to each witness for three to five minutes before they started to tune out. With Kaplan, Henoch figured he had ten minutes to get the essence of the case across to the jury. At that moment, at the onset of the main part of the prosecution's case, the key was to establish that there was no doubt whatsoever that Kaplan had an intimate relationship with the two defendants.

Henoch asked Kaplan to identify anyone in the court he recognized. Kaplan pointed across the courtroom: Louie Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa.

"Did you have a business relationship with Mr. Eppolito and Mr. Caracappa?" Henoch asked.


"Can you please tell the jury what the nature of that business relationship was?"

"They brought me information about wiretaps, phone taps, informants, ongoing investigations, and imminent arrests."

"What did you do for them in exchange for that information?"

"I paid them."

"Can you tell the jury, sir, at the time you had the relationship with Mr. Eppolito and Mr. Caracappa, where were they employed?"

"New York Police Department."

Henoch's first thematic strand, long planned, came next.

"Sir," Henoch asked Kaplan, "have you ever been to Mr. Caracappa's residence ?"

"Yes," Kaplan replied.

"Where is it?"

"In Manhattan, on 22nd Street," Kaplan said.

The exchange seemed innocuous, especially for a jury trying to get their bearings in a complex RICO case, but it contained the kernel inside the seed of truth that Henoch would nurture during the weeks to come.

"Did Mr. Caracappa have pets inside that apartment?" Henoch asked Kaplan. The question derived from the fact that Oldham had remembered that Caracappa complained about cat hair on his suit when they worked for Major Case at the same time. It was a small but telling fact. Details contained their own drama.

"He had two cats," Kaplan said.

"Did you ever meet any of Mr. Caracappa's family members?" Henoch asked.

"I met his wife."

"What's her name?"


It was an unlikely approach to a mob murder trial, Henoch recalled, but the evidence was aimed at attacking the defense that Caracappa and Eppolito were being framed by mobsters. "One of the purposes of spending so much time with Kaplan was to mine his knowledge of the lives of Steve and Louie and organized crime, and to find out as many details as possible about his relationship with them," Henoch said. "Kaplan knew where Steve lived in Manhattan, and the precise address on East 22nd Street. He knew what floor he lived on. Kaplan knew where Steve's mother lived on Staten Island. How would a seasoned career criminal know where a hero cop's mother lived, and be able to describe in detail a cemetery near that hero cop's house? How would he know the hero cop's sister-in-law took care of his mother on occasion? Caracappa was quiet, unassuming, and cautious. He wasn't a public figure, with information about his life readily available. The jury could see that Kaplan was confident in his facts. The jury could see that he had to have had a relationship with Caracappa and Eppolito. He knew too much. Kaplan's tiny bits of information were daggers in the heart of a defense that Caracappa and Eppolito didn't know Kaplan. We wanted to make it preposterous for either defense attorney to claim his client had no relationship with Burton Kaplan."

Henoch had Kaplan review for the jury his brushes with the law, including two trials, five convictions, and civil proceedings involving his business vending knockoff designer wear. Kaplan said he had pled guilty to paying a group of Mexican inmates $1,000 in Allenwood Federal Prison Complex to assault another inmate. Kaplan explained the transaction to the jury. "That's part of what prison life is all about," he said. As a result of his guilty plea for the assault, and despite his cooperation with the government in this case, Kaplan had been sentenced to thirty days in "the hole" in Allenwood.

"Do you know Tommy Dades?" Henoch asked.

"No," Kaplan replied.

Before trial there had been speculation in the press that Kaplan had been a secret informant for the FBI for many years. Kaplan flatly denied the accusation. He had been approached more than ten times over the years by authorities seeking his cooperation, but had always refused.

"Was the standard practice, in your experience, that every time you were arrested some law enforcement official would try to get you to cooperate?" Henoch asked.

"Every time."

"In 2004 you actually began to cooperate. Is that correct?"


"Can you please tell the jury what changed your mind?"

"Definitely," Kaplan said. "I was in jail nine straight years. I was on the lam two and a half years before. In that period of time I seen an awful lot of guys that I thought were stand-up guys go bad, turn, and become informants. As I told Steve the night I left to go on the lam, I asked him if he could guarantee that Louie would stand up. Steve said he could do that. But after nine years I felt they were going to be indicted by the state in this case, and I didn't think they would stand up. I was tired of going to jail by myself. I would be at the defense table right now, and Steve and Louie be would sitting up here on the stand."

"Did your family have any sway over you in your decision to cooperate?" Henoch asked.

"Yes and no," Kaplan testified. "My wife and daughter have been asking me to cooperate from the first day, and I didn't do it. My daughter adopted a boy from Russia, and he's two and a half years old now. I wanted to be able to spend some time with him. But I can't honestly say I did this for my family. I did it, in all honesty, because I felt I was going to be made the scapegoat in this case."

From an objective point of view, Kaplan's explanation made little sense. The targets of the investigation were Caracappa and Eppolito, not Kaplan, who was already in prison and would remain there until he died. "But it was the truth that Kaplan told himself," Oldham recalled. "Even after he flipped, Kaplan didn't want to admit to the court, or to himself, that he had caved. Criminals frequently come up with contorted reasons for their cooperation that allow them to maintain a fig leaf of dignity. Kaplan didn't want to allow that Joe Ponzi or I had anything to do with his decision. Between the lines, though, you can hear what really motivated Kaplan. His wife, his daughter, and finally the realization that he was standing up for two dirty cops who would never do the same thing for him -- especially Eppolito."

For the next two days, Kaplan told the jury his life story, from the first trips he took with his father to the racetrack and his early gambling addiction to his collaboration with the Lucheses and Gaspipe Casso. Kaplan said he had not been in contact with Casso since Casso's arrest in 1993. Casso's son still lived in a house that Kaplan owned but Kaplan had served an eviction notice on the son and the matter was still the subject of dispute.

Despite the passage of years, Kaplan's version of events matched Casso's in virtually every aspect. One exception was the murder of the wrong Nicky Guido. Casso claimed he had paid "the cops" for the address of the wrong Nicky Guido. According to Kaplan, Caracappa and Eppolito didn't give Casso the address. Kaplan said that they wanted to be paid to run the license plate, and Casso turned them down, believing "the cops" were being greedy. "The inconsistency with Casso might seem problematic but factual discrepancies can be the best thing for the credibility of an informant or witness," Oldham noted. "For the jury, if the accounts of every witness match perfectly, if every fact fits seamlessly, it can seem like the witnesses are lying, or colluding to create a story. Memory is not perfect. Synapses don't fire. All of us remember events in fragments. Like the color of the Plymouth Detectives Caracappa and Eppolito were driving at the time of the Hydell kidnapping. Was it gray, or blue, or green? All three versions existed in people's memories but there was no definitive proof which it was. Did that mean that Caracappa and Eppolito were not searching Staten Island and Brooklyn in an American-made automobile picked to look like a nondescript unmarked police car? Did it mean they didn't kidnap Hydell and serve him up for Casso to brutally murder? No. The same was true for Nicky Guido. Whether or not Casso paid for the address, Caracappa did the search and Nicky Guido was killed. The jury heard the evidence."

"At some later point, did you have a conversation with Mr. Eppolito about the wrong Nicky Guido being killed?" Henoch asked.


"What did Mr. Eppolito say to you?"

"He told me Gas should have paid the money and he would have got the right guy."


During lunch breaks, a procession of the principal players in the case made their way across Cadman Plaza to the Plaza Diner. Caracappa remained in the courthouse, eating his lunch in the cafeteria with Jack Ryan, the former Major Case Squad detective working for the defense. Eppolito, by contrast, strolled with an entourage of his family, usually stopping to grant walk-and-talk interviews to the reporters camped outside. One member of Eppolito's family did not form part of his inner circle. Louis Eppolito Jr., a thoughtful and gentle thirty-six-year-old, was the only child of his father's first marriage.

"Kaplan appears to be believable," Eppolito junior said over lunch.

"He seems very, very smart," said Rob Gortner, Eppolito's partner.

"I hope my dad is innocent," the younger Eppolito told a listener. "I want to believe it. I'm here to find the truth. I need to hear the evidence. I need to make my own decision."

That morning, before proceedings began, he had gotten to speak with his father alone for the first time since the arrest. They had embraced, Louis junior said. "I told him I love him. He said he loves me and appreciates me coming here. Of course he denies it to me. He says he's innocent. He says it's lies, lies, lies. I'm not the kind of person to say, 'Okay, Daddy.' He's extremely defensive. I told him I will be there for him throughout. He said, 'I ain't going anywhere.'''

After lunch, Kaplan's testimony continued. He described the aftermath of the murders of Jimmy Hydell and the wrong Nicky Guido. Kaplan said that Casso had decided he wanted to kill Sammy the Bull Gravano, the prominent member of the Gambinos, the family that had tried to kill Casso in 1986. Frankie Santora Jr. and Detectives Caracappa and Eppolito agreed to take up the contract, Kaplan testified. Payment would only be forthcoming upon completion of the job. The trio tailed Gravano to and from work. Weeks passed and they were still looking for a clear shot at Gravano.

"Did there come a time that you found out what happened with respect to that contract?" Henoch asked.

"Yes. Frankie junior told me," Kaplan testified.

"What did Frankie junior tell you?"

"That the three of them followed Gravano to his house. They surveilled his construction company on Stillwell Avenue, and they also staked out Tali's Bar and Grill on 18th Avenue, where Gravano hung out. Frankie junior told me that they stopped surveilling Gravano because a detective who knew Louie or Steve came up to them in a car and started a conversation with them, asking how you doing, what are you doing here. They said they are just there to meet somebody. They didn't think they should go to that spot anymore. They followed Gravano to his house and from his house on a lot of occasions, but they could never catch him alone. They told me he was always dropped off by people or picked up by people in other cars. They didn't have a chance to fulfill the contract."

"Did you tell Casso anything about that?"

"I gave him a word-by-word explanation of what Frankie told me."

"What did Casso say to you about that?"

"'Okay,' he said. 'If they want to keep it, they can keep it. If they want to give it up, they can give it up and we will try ourselves.'"

Soon after that Frankie Santora Jr. was shot and killed during the murder of Carmine Variale. The connection with the NYPD was now lost, it seemed. If the matter had been dropped by Caracappa and Eppolito the conspiracy would have ended. But the money was too attractive, and easy. Weeks after the murder of Santora, Kaplan testified, he got a phone call from Frankie Santora Jr.'s wife.

"After the conversation with Ms. Santora, did there come a time that you had a meeting with Mr. Eppolito?"


"Where did you meet with Mr. Eppolito?"

"In Mrs. Santora's house."

"Can you tell the jury about how long after the murder of Frank Santora the meeting was that you had with Mr. Eppolito?"

"I would say within a month. I went to Frankie's house and I sat down in his dining room with Louie at the table. Frankie's wife went into another room. Louie says, 'I'm pretty sure you know who I am.' I said, 'Yes, I know who you are. I have seen you on a few occasions. You're Frankie's cousin.' He said yes. He asked me if I had a desire to continue the business that we were doing together."

"What did you take that to mean?"

"Continue what I was doing with Frankie, but directly with Louie. Continue getting information."

"Was there any discussion about paying for that information?"

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

Kaplan wanted to think it over. Eppolito gave Kaplan his home phone number and Caracappa's beeper number. Kaplan gave Eppolito his beeper number and the number for a phone line he had installed in his daughter's bedroom. The number was given to only a few of his most trusted associates -- Casso, Tommy Galpine, and now Detective Louis Eppolito.

Kaplan lived six blocks away from the Santora residence. He walked out of the house from the meeting and along the driveway. There was a man sitting in a car with his chin resting pensively on his palm. Kaplan didn't know his name but he recognized him as Eppolito's partner. In court, he looked across the room in the direction of the defendants' table and indicated Caracappa.

"After that conversation with Mr. Eppolito, did you contact anyone?" Henoch asked.

"Yes," Kaplan said.

"Who did you contact?"

"Anthony Casso."

"Did you have a conversation with Casso about what you and Eppolito had discussed?"

"Yes. I told him that I had a meeting with Louie Eppolito, at Frankie's house, and that he suggested that if we wanted to continue we could do it on a more businesslike basis. He would want -- he would like, he didn't want-four thousand a month. He would do everything he could to give me information at all times, whenever it became available. Louie said that his partner worked in a task force and that there's a lot of information that he came across. He was in meetings with the FBI and that that would all become part of the four thousand a month. The only exception would be murder contracts. They would be above that."

"So the four thousand a month was supposed to cover what?"


"What type of information?"

"Imminent arrests, wiretaps, bugs, ongoing investigations."

"As of the time of this meeting, had Nicky Guido already been killed?"


"What about Jimmy Hydell, had he already been kidnapped?"


"What about jeweler number two, had he already been killed?" Henoch asked, referring to Israel Greenwald.


Henoch asked what Casso's reply had been to the proposal made by Caracappa and Eppolito. The new arrangement carried risks, with Kaplan in a direct relationship with the cops and Casso therefore one step closer to the perils they represented. But the partnership had already proved invaluable.

Kaplan recalled his conversation with Casso. "I said, 'Well, so far they've been real good to you.' He says, 'Yes, I agree with that. Let's do it.'"

"What conditions did Casso place on the agreement?"

"He said, 'Tell them if they want to do this, and we go forward on it, that they have to work exclusively for us. We don't want them giving information to other guys in other families, and possibly have a problem back from it which will eventually come back to us.'''

"Do you know, or did you know at that time, whether it was against mafia protocol to use policemen in this manner?"

"No, I didn't know it then."

"Did you discuss methods of contacting with one another?"


"Can you tell the jury were there any codes or numbers that you decided to use?"

"When I would call his house, I would always use the name 'Marco,' and if I beeped, he had given me a beeper number for Steve, and I agreed to use my prefix in my home phone number, 259, and put that behind the beeper so he would know it was me."

An arrangement was established for meetings. Kaplan lived on 85th Street in Brooklyn. Kaplan would know when Eppolito was coming to see him. If there was no reason to cancel the meeting Kaplan left the porch light on in front of his house. Eppolito would arrive at ten at night. He would tap on Kaplan's front window. Kaplan would let him in the front door. If Kaplan's wife was asleep, they would stay in the living room for their conversations. If she was awake, they would go back to the rear of the house where his daughter had once lived.

As Kaplan testified, the names of victims and heists long since forgotten and seemingly unconnected were brought back to life. Otto Heidel, the Bulova watch job, Tiger Management. Kaplan's command of the facts was impressive. Jurors began to steal looks at Eppolito as Kaplan continued to describe power struggles inside the Luchese family and Casso's violent solutions to dysfunction. Caracappa and Eppolito had been central players, as Casso's hired informants. Over the years, remembered Kaplan, they met in a number of other places as well. Rest areas on the Southern State Parkway and the Long Island Expressway were often used. Eppolito was married, and he had three children by his second marriage, but he also had a lover. Kaplan said she had lived on 84th Street in Bensonhurst, and they met at her place as well. Kaplan couldn't recall her name but said she had a dog and a teenage son. Eppolito came alone, for the most part. Kaplan dealt nearly always with Eppolito. Until he got greedy.

"Louie and I had a big argument. Louie said he wanted to meet Gaspipe. I said, 'Louie, that don't make no sense. Why do you want to do that?' He said, 'We've been so good with our information, I think we deserve more money.' I said, 'That isn't going to happen. You are not going to meet him.' He says, 'I'm willing to stand on one side of the door. He could be on the other side of the door. We don't have to see each other.' I said, 'Louie, that isn't going to happen.' He got a little indignant with me. We had an argument. If you look at Mr. Eppolito, he's three times my size. I pushed him out the door to my house and we had an argument. I said, 'Don't ever come back to my house anymore.'''

"What happened after that?"

"About a month later, Steve Caracappa came to my house with a box of cookies. He says, 'Is it okay if we talk?' And I says, 'Sure.' I like Steve. I liked him then. I like him now. I know I am not doing him any good by being a rat, but I always liked him."

In court, Caracappa threw down his pen and looked around the court with indignation, as if to ask how a man could be permitted to tell such outrageous lies. Eppolito's eyes were bloodshot and his jaw clenched. He continually swallowed and twitched his head. From that time forward, Kaplan said, he met with Caracappa. The pair convened at the cemetery at the end of Kramer Street on Staten Island near Caracappa's mother's house. It was during these meetings that Kaplan asked Caracappa to help locate Anthony DiLapi by contacting DiLapi's parole officer. Kaplan testified that he was concerned that a written letter would create a record that might later be uncovered. Caracappa told him not to worry; he would put DiLapi's name in a list of half a dozen others involved in a real investigation, obscuring his intention. Caracappa provided one address for DiLapi. After DiLapi escaped the first attempt by Casso's hit squad, Caracappa furnished another address in L.A.

DiLapi was then killed, Kaplan stated flatly.

Two jurors turned and stared directly at Caracappa.

On and on Kaplan continued, relentlessly detailing the attacks on Fat Pete Chiodo, Bruno Facciola, and Eddie Lino. "Marco" was the code name in Kaplan's phone book employed to disguise the contact numbers for Caracappa and Eppolito. Henoch entered the phone book into evidence. The exhibit was displayed to the jury. Henoch had Kaplan identify and explain how he had scratched out 212-616-0631 and 917-420-0150 -- the first number for Caracappa in Staten Island, the second his beeper number -- to camouflage them.

During the weeks leading up to the Lino homicide, Kaplan said, Caracappa and Eppolito had asked Kaplan to ask Casso for untraceable guns. "Jesus," Casso had complained to Kaplan, "don't those guys do anything for themselves?" A revolver and an automatic were supplied as murder weapons. Kaplan testified that he had been in the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary at the time of Lino's death recovering from eye surgery. Eppolito came to see Kaplan there.

"I've got good news," Eppolito said to Kaplan. "We got him."

"What do you mean?" Kaplan asked.

"We killed him," Eppolito said, taking out two newspaper photographs of the scene of the crime. Eppolito told Kaplan that Caracappa had done the shooting. A former soldier, Caracappa was the better shot, Kaplan testified. Kaplan passed along payment, received in a box from Casso. The amount was $70,000 in cash, five thousand more than had been agreed. Kaplan thought Casso was testing him to see if he was honest. Kaplan returned the excess and conveyed the balance to his two "cops."

In the early nineties, Kaplan testified, Eppolito came to see Kaplan at his home on 85th Street. "Just before he moved to Las Vegas, he pulled up in front of my house. He had his wife with him. Louie rang the bell and I came to the door. I believe it was a Saturday, and my wife and I came to the door, both of us, and Louie said, 'Come outside. Come outside. I want you to see the van I bought.' And I came outside and very honestly I was shocked. It was white, pure white, and I felt very conspicuous standing out on the sidewalk with Louie, him being a retired detective and me being a criminal, with this big white van and on a Saturday afternoon with a lot of people driving by. I didn't say that to him, but I was nervous. I said, 'Louie, it's a beautiful van' and I did what most people did at that time. I went in my pocket -- I used pay phones a lot -- where I had two, three dollars' worth of quarters. I threw it on the floor of the car, which meant good luck."

"Was Mr. Eppolito with anyone that day?"

"Yes, he was with Fran."

The departure of the Eppolitos for Las Vegas did not cease Kaplan's contact with his" cops." Kaplan continued to deal with Caracappa after he retired from the NYPD and took a job with the 14th Street Business Improvement District. Kaplan testified that after the arrest of Casso in 1993, he was not concerned that the conspiracy between Caracappa and Eppolito and Casso would be revealed. "If anyone in the world was a stand-up guy, I thought it was Mr. Casso," he said. The phone call from his attorney Judd Burstein a year later, saying that Casso had snitched, took Kaplan completely by surprise. That evening, before going on the lam, Kaplan said he went to see Caracappa at his apartment on East 22nd Street.

"I felt that the only way the government would take someone like Casso as a cooperator who had so much baggage -- I knew he had many, many bodies, I knew about twenty-five at the time -- unless he could give them something sensational back," Kaplan said.

"What was the sensational thing that you were referring to?"

"The relationship between Steve, Louie, I, Frankie junior, and Casso," Kaplan said.
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Re: The Brotherhoods: The True Story of Two Cops Who Murdere

Postby admin » Wed Jun 18, 2014 2:24 am



On the lam first in Ensenada, Mexico, then Oregon, and finally Las Vegas, Kaplan testified, he had kept in contact with Caracappa and Eppolito, both then living in Las Vegas. Henoch entered into evidence the pieces of identification Kaplan had acquired as he constructed the identity of "Barry Mayers." Kaplan told the court that during this time he lent Eppolito money from his marijuana business to help the retired detective finance the purchase of his dream house. Kaplan described for the jury the interior of Eppolito's study on Silver Bear Way, including the glass display case of knives. Financial stability had been a constant theme in Kaplan's dealings with Eppolito, he told the court.

"On occasion Louie came to me and said he needed to borrow money and I said, 'I don't understand you, Louie. Do you have any bad habits?' And he said, 'No, I don't gamble, and I don't do drugs.' I said, 'How come you're always in trouble with money? You are getting -- your end is two thousand a month plus you have your salary.' He says, 'I collect snakes, very expensive snakes and it costs a lot of money to feed them and a lot of money to buy them. I like doing things like that.' Louie always wore three, four chains and five rings on his fingers. I tried to preach to him as an older guy that he should be more conscious of the way he spends his money and stop getting himself under pressure all the time."

"Did you ever have a conversation with Mr. Caracappa about Mr. Eppolito's money habits?" Henoch asked.

"Yes," Kaplan said.

"What did Mr. Caracappa tell you?"

"We were in the cemetery on Staten Island near his mother's house on a Saturday. I broached the subject about the conversation I had had with Louie. Steve said that since he had known Louie, Louie had always been in trouble with money and he was always into Steve for six, eight, ten thousand dollars at a time. He said that there was a time in their relationship when they got desperate for money --"

"Objection," Hayes said, rising to his feet.

"Sustained," Judge Weinstein said.

"Just what Mr. Caracappa said?" Henoch asked.

"He said that there was a time that they had to put bags over their --"

Eddie Hayes leapt to his feet again. "Objection," he called.

The jury had no way to know, but this was a reference to evidence that in the late seventies, when Caracappa and Eppolito were partners in the Brooklyn Robbery Squad, they told Kaplan that on occasion they had put paper bags over their heads and stuck up bodegas to make cash on the side. The allegation did not go directly to proof of the RICO conspiracy, but it had powerful implications for the jury in determining the characters of Caracappa and Eppolito. Judge Weinstein had ruled such character evidence inadmissible.

"Sustained," Judge Weinstein said. "Strike it."

Kaplan testified about his various business dealings in Las Vegas, including the proposed deal with Caracappa's wife to sell a punching bag on the QVC shopping channel, which they hoped might be endorsed by George Foreman. For only the second time in the trial, Caracappa's face took on an expression other than stoicism. He appeared angry and disgusted as he muttered to himself. "The son of a bitch has brought my wife into this thing," he said audibly enough to be heard in the press seats.

Kaplan described his return to New York City, after the government had determined not to use Casso as a witness and Kaplan hoped the heat had been turned down on the "cops" investigation. Kaplan's subsequent arrest on the marijuana charges led to a downward spiral resulting in the conviction of Kaplan and Tommy Galpine. Kaplan explained to the jury that he repeatedly refused to cooperate with law enforcement. He described his encounters with Oldham, first in Allenwood with DEA Special Agent Mark Manko, and later in the MDC in Brooklyn with Ponzio The session in the MDC was the beginning of the end of Kaplan's resistance. "I had my lawyer come and visit me in Brooklyn," Kaplan testified of his response to that session. "I told him about all the visits I was getting. I told him I was thinking of cooperating. I wanted to talk it over with my family. I wanted him to be aware of the fact that I was considering cooperating."

Kaplan said again that he had become convinced the investigation Oldham and the cadre had undertaken was going to result in indictments. Kaplan didn't want to wind up on the wrong side of the law, once again. "It was a very, very hard decision for me, but I made it."

Henoch had Kaplan explain the terms of his proffer agreement to the jury. The benefits he might receive, if any, would be determined by a federal judge, not prosecutors from the Eastern District. Kaplan had not been able to dictate terms, as he initially hoped. "Did anyone ever suggest to you any answer to questions when they were asked of you?" Henoch asked.


"Did anyone ever tell you to change any of your answers?"


Henoch was finished, for now. "No further questions, Your Honor."


Fast Eddie Hayes led for the defense. Always tightly wound, with the high-energy manner of a Queens-raised speed-tawker salesman, Hayes began his questioning of Kaplan with a few jabs and feints. Did Kaplan lie to a Hasidic businessman about the murder of Israel Greenwald by saying he had gone on a "long vacation"? Kaplan agreed he had. What about forfeiture of assets under the cooperation agreement, Hayes wanted to know, suggesting that Kaplan had money squirreled away the government didn't know about. Kaplan stated that he had no hidden assets or significant amount of money.

Hayes asked Kaplan if he'd been close friends with Amuso and Casso.

"That's true."

"And you went and you helped Mr. Casso on a number of occasions by supplying him with information, having people killed, isn't that right?"

"That's correct."

"What did they do for you, what did Mr. Casso do for you?"

"Mr. Casso didn't do anything for me specifically because of that, but Mr. Casso lent me large amounts of money for my businesses in the past years."

"Casso was, as you describe it, a homicidal maniac?"

"That's true, that's my belief."

"Would you describe yourself, Mr. Kaplan, as an intelligent man?"

"I don't really think I'm intelligent. I think I'm an average human being. If I was really intelligent I wouldn't be sitting in this chair at this time. I'm not being sarcastic, I'm being honest."

"You're not in the chair because you're stupid, you're in the chair because you're a thief, right, and a killer?"

''I'm in the chair because I'm a criminal."

Under scrutiny from Hayes, Kaplan said that in the best year of his marijuana business he had sold between 12,000 and 15,000 pounds, netting a personal profit of millions. Hayes then asked about Kaplan's former business partner, Ray Fontaine. Oldham had always been suspicious of Kaplan's account of the sudden disappearance of Fontaine in the eighties. Fontaine had been involved in disputes with pot dealers Kaplan supplied who'd warned Downtown Burt that Fontaine was destroying their monopoly by selling pot to other mobsters. If there was a major chink in the armor of Burt Kaplan's testimony -- if the defense had uncovered a fact not known to the prosecution -- it would appear now.

"Ray Fontaine went on a long vacation, didn't he?" Hayes asked.

"No, no," Kaplan said. "Ray Fontaine left his house and somebody, I imagine, grabbed him."

"And killed him?"

"I don't know if they killed him or not."

"But he's never been seen again?"

"Ray was like my brother. I love him."

Hayes dropped the line of questioning, without adding any evidence or catching Kaplan in a contradiction. The gambit had failed to injure Kaplan's credibility, crossing a major hurdle for the prosecution. Hayes turned to Kaplan's descent into a life of crime. Kaplan agreed that he had behaved reprehensibly toward his wife and daughter due to his gambling addiction. "I was a very sick individual," Kaplan said. Hayes asked if inviting mob figures like Christy Tick Furnari and Anthony Casso to his daughter's wedding in the eighties had been a wise or decent thing to do. Kaplan's daughter had then just graduated from law school, and clerked for criminal defense attorney Jerry Shargel. Kaplan said there was the real possibility that she would defend accused criminals such as himself. "Like you do," Kaplan said to Hayes. Under questioning from Hayes, Kaplan said that he had lost a great deal of his daughter's respect but he loved her dearly. "I love her more than death," Kaplan testified.

Hayes ranged around the courtroom, moving from the lectern to the well in front of the judge's bench and back behind the defense tables. His physical restlessness was matched by the lack of an overarching point to his questioning. He changed topics unpredictably, as if searching for a tiny opening -- any opening -- in an impenetrable wall of cold hard fact. In reply, with cold precision, Kaplan recited what he knew, neither more nor less. The testimony of Burton Kaplan was compelling for the sheer consistency of his calculated, violent deviance. Kaplan maintained a level of discipline anyone could respect. Kaplan was a worker. He didn't do drugs, cheat on his friends, or stay out until all hours of the night in bars with his buddies. To the contrary. Kaplan considered himself a stand-up guy and a man of his word. Kaplan was a working-class Jew from Brooklyn, son of a straight-arrow store owner who died young. Kaplan shaped his life during the rise of the mafia but he didn't follow the familiar pattern of dissipation. Kaplan kept his self-respect. Above all he possessed an ascetic's charm. He was a loyal friend to his inner circle, legal and illegal.

On the stand, Kaplan's evidence was unrelentingly credible. His life story was filled with improbable incidents and characters. In the early eighties, he testified that he had tried to turn an African hair cream export business into a Quaalude factory. He told the jury he had attempted to fence Peruvian passports in Hong Kong in the early nineties. Stolen diamonds from Burkina Faso, knockoff Disco jeans, women's leisure suits in Las Vegas: Kaplan's career as a criminal ranged far and wide in scope and ambition. Testifying, Kaplan was plainly very honest, perhaps not with himself and the way he treated his family over the years, but on the stand there were no elisions or evasions. The more questions Hayes asked Kaplan, the more he displayed his knowledge of the "cops," and the more damning the case against Hayes's client became. Kaplan was honest about his brutality, and he was brutally honest.

Hayes ended with Kaplan's meetings with Caracappa and Eppolito in Las Vegas.

"If we believe you, that you hired Eppolito and Caracappa to do all these murders, right, why don't they kill you?" Hayes asked.

"Why don't who kill me?" Kaplan replied.

"Eppolito and Caracappa."

"Believe me, that was on my mind. That's why I had my girlfriend come with me and sit in the car so she could observe Louie when I met them the first time."

"You then met them by yourself?" Hayes asked.

"No, I never met them by myself. I only met Steve by myself and I was taken there by my girlfriend. She waited in the car."

"If they already killed all these people, what stops them from killing you and your girlfriend?"

"I personally think that Steve and I had a lot of affection for each other," Kaplan testified. "I've had a lot of affection for Louie over the times, except for when we had a falling out. I don't think they would have killed me. As a matter of fact, they made a statement to me that when Casso was trying to kill me, they said if he ever does kill you, we will kill him and if he's not around, we'll kill his son. So, they loved me. I believed they loved me."

Caracappa stared directly ahead, into the middle distance, his eyes ringed by red.


Bruce Cutler rose, in the decidedly formal manner he employed in court. Kaplan began by acknowledging a personal connection to Cutler. In the seventies, when Kaplan received his first conviction in a trial before Judge Weinstein, his defense attorney was a well-known ex-cop and highly regarded criminal lawyer named Murray Cutler.

"Your father represented me in a case with Judge Weinstein many, many years ago," Kaplan said. "Your father was a very nice man," Kaplan said.

"Mr. Kaplan," Cutler said, "I have to go to work on you a little bit."

"That's your job, counselor."

If Hayes was a fox, sniffing around the case and looking for holes, Cutler was the hedgehog. The truism of British philosopher Sir Isaiah Berlin, taken from the ancient Greek poet Archilochus, refers to two kinds of people. The fox races in many directions at once, seeing contradictions and complexities, avoiding grand theories about life or the law. Hayes was the personification of an attorney who inhabited relative truths, seeking to raise reasonable doubt in the minds of jurors with charm and a hundred tiny factual quibbles and inconsistencies and implications. The hedgehog is the embodiment of a person who holds to a single, totalizing truth. For Cutler that truth was that RICO prosecutions were innately corrupt and unjust. The government degraded itself by making deals with killers, offering rewards to habitual liars and thieves, and turning the centuries-old traditions of the common law into a mockery of justice. Gangsters who became cooperators were morally, spiritually, and legally despicable, unreliable, and dishonorable. What was at stake, Cutler wanted the jury to believe, was the sanctity of the legal system itself. Believing the word of confessed killers like Casso and Kaplan against that of upstanding NYPD detectives such as Caracappa and Eppolito was an outrage and an injustice.

"About how many meetings would you say you have had with Mr. Henoch from the time you decided to fully cooperate?" Cutler asked.

"I would say over thirty," Kaplan said.

The meetings lasted approximately five hours, Kaplan testified. The total number of hours Henoch had spent with Kaplan was in excess of one hundred and fifty, Cutler calculated.

"I had a lot of crime to confess," Kaplan said.

"And a lot of information to give?"


Cutler asked if Kaplan had seen newspaper accounts in 1994 of the allegations made by Casso against Caracappa and Eppolito. Kaplan said he had not; he was already on the run in Mexico. Kaplan said he was aware of the publicity the crimes had attracted in New York City at the time -- just as they had during the trial now.

"Prior thereto, Lou Eppolito had written a book," Cutler said. "You knew that Louie had written a book?"

"Yes," Kaplan replied. "At one point he gave me a copy of the book and he signed it, 'To my good friend Burt.' When I got arrested, I had my wife throw it away."

Cutler reviewed the basic outline of Kaplan's early life story: Brooklyn childhood, gambling debts, mob connections. "You are seventy-two now, and I am not quibbling with you, but you made a choice in your life at some point to live this illicit life?"

"Shame on me," Kaplan said. "But I did that. I admit to it."

Cutler turned to Kaplan's first major criminal activity: acting as an accessory after the fact to murder in driving the body of a homicide victim from New York to Connecticut at the direction of an ex-cop turned criminal. Kaplan was twenty-nine years old at the time, Cutler noted.

"As I look at my life in retrospect," Kaplan testified, "I did a lot of unsettling things."

"I am not passing judgment," Cutler said. "I am just trying to unravel these things as best I can. Did you have a moral compunction, a hesitation, to say, 'Wait a minute, I've got a dead body in my car. What am I, losing my mind?'"

"If you want me to answer that question, I trembled all the way up to Connecticut in the car by myself. I was scared to death."

Cutler began to dissect the evidence Kaplan had given to Henoch. Cutler ran through the voluminous list of gangsters who had flipped and become informers over the years. By contrast, Cutler contended, Kaplan's old and dear friend Christy Tick Furnari had "stood up" and refused to snitch, thus remaining in Allenwood well into his eighties. Such silence was "old-school," Cutler said, and Kaplan agreed that there were old-school gangsters left.

"You testified that one of the reasons you signed a cooperation agreement was you didn't want to be a scapegoat?" Cutler asked.

"That's true."

"You felt that the state authorities would charge Stephen and Lou and they would point to you?"

"I said that."

"But they didn't charge Stephen and Lou in state court?"

"Because they were indicted in federal court."

"They didn't charge Stephen and Lou, you know that? They're not pointing their fingers at you, Mr. Kaplan. You don't see them pointing their fingers at you."

"In what way, counsel?" Kaplan asked. "Meaning they're not on the witness stand?"

"Meaning they are not on the witness stand. You are."

"Because I was first, counselor," Kaplan said.

"My point exactly," Cutler said.

"I made a very, very tough decision."

"You also said and part of the reason was, you would agree with me, you didn't want to be in jail anymore?"

For Kaplan, admitting to the disgrace of ever wanting to get out of prison was too much to ask. Kaplan would not admit such a thing to himself -- let alone Bruce Cutler.

"That's not true," Kaplan said.

"I understand, I understand."

"Please don't say it, it's not true," Kaplan said.

Stoicism in the face of a long prison sentence was part of the ethos of career criminals like Furnari and Kaplan. But that didn't mean Kaplan had meekly accepted his pot conviction. In 2003, Kaplan had filed a motion to have his 1997 conviction in the marijuana case overturned. The grounds Kaplan had come up with constituted one of the oldest, most common refuges for convicted criminals trying to find a way out of trouble. Kaplan claimed his legal representation at trial had been incompetent. Kaplan, like countless convicts before him, had turned the blame on his attorneys as a desperate last resort.

Outraged at the attack on the honor of fellow defense attorneys, Cutler read sections from Kaplan's motion protesting his innocence of the crimes he had been convicted of. The basis for the claim of the poor legal representation was slight and the chances of success were slim. But Kaplan had approached his affidavit with determination. "It was clear to me from the pressure the government tried to impose on me that the government was willing to go to virtually any length to make me crack in the hope of bringing me on board to have me serve as a substitute for Anthony Casso," Kaplan's motion claimed.

Confronted in court by Cutler now, Kaplan did not attempt to minimize, hedge, or deflect the evidence.

"I was fighting for my life at the time," Kaplan testified.

The motion had not been adjudicated at the time Kaplan decided to flip in the summer of 2004.

"Would the outcome have affected your decision to cooperate?" Cutler wanted to know.

"Objection," Henoch said. "It calls upon the witness to speculate."

"Overruled," Judge Weinstein said.

The question was read back to Kaplan.

"Yes," he said.

Once again, invited into a trap by Cutler, Kaplan refused to fall for the ruse. It was implausible to say that having his marijuana conviction overturned, and potentially being freed on bail while a retrial was pending, would not have an impact on Kaplan's thinking. Of course it would. As a witness, Kaplan was frank and appeared to have nothing to hide. He told Cutler that Casso had tried to interject in Kaplan's motion. Ever vengeful, trapped in solitary confinement with nothing but time on his hands to dream up plots to gain revenge, or even a little attention, Casso had tried to hire attorney David Schoen himself to thwart Kaplan's efforts. After Kaplan flipped and agreed to testify, Kaplan said, he had dropped his appeal, even though the matter had still not been decided.

"I didn't want to be on both sides of the law," Kaplan said.

"Did you cooperate because you hoped for something in return?" Cutler asked, his voice rising in indignation.

"I agree," Kaplan said.

"A reduction in sentence?"

"I would agree," Kaplan said. ''I'm hoping for a low sentence."

Cutler's voice started to rise as he recited the procedure Kaplan would undergo after his testimony was complete. The Eastern District would submit a letter to Kaplan's sentencing judge within thirty days. During the cross-examination, Cutler had managed to maintain a controlled atmosphere. Now, however, as Kaplan's testimony neared the end, Cutler's sense of moral disgust was matched by a sense of urgency. Goading Kaplan into a mistake, or a display of anger, would weaken the weight of his testimony, perhaps.

"Are you sorry for the misery, death, and destruction you caused?" Cutler demanded. "Did you testify as to that?"

"No," Kaplan replied.

Kaplan had grown more and more irritable as Cutler implied that Kaplan had ulterior motives for flipping. Kaplan again insisted his main reason for becoming a cooperating witness was that he was convinced Eppolito would try to make a deal and leave Kaplan as the one sitting at the defense table facing trial on multiple murder counts. It had happened to him before, in the marijuana case, and he wasn't going to let it happen again. "I felt Louie would cooperate against me, and he might be able to get Steve to go along," Kaplan testified yet again.

The tone between the two men was contentious. Cutler, it emerged, was moving toward a subject that had been ruled inadmissible by Judge Weinstein prior to the trial. While being questioned by federal authorities, Kaplan had failed to pass a lie detector test when asked if he was becoming a cooperator in order to get into the witness security program. Weinstein ruled that the defense could not ask about lie detector tests because they are not admissible as a matter of law. Cutler began to ask a question about the lie detector test when he was interrupted simultaneously by Henoch and Judge Weinstein.

"I won't have that," Weinstein said sternly. "Your cross-examination is finished."

Cutler seemed astonished at the turn in events. His cross-examination of Little Al D'Arco had likewise devolved into a shouting match called to an end by the judge. "I'm used to being upbraided," Cutler said to his fellow attorneys. "But not cut off."

The prosecution had the opportunity to ask Kaplan questions to clarify or amplify answers given during cross-examination. Redirect was generally used for the government to attempt to rehabilitate a witness who had suffered at the hands of defense attorneys. There was little need to be concerned about such contradictions or weaknesses. Henoch asked Kaplan how he had concealed his meetings with "the cops." Using the code name Marco, only calling from pay phones, and rendezvousing late at night in a Staten Island cemetery had seemed sufficient, Kaplan said.

Hayes rose to again cross-examine Kaplan. How was it, Hayes wanted to know, that in all the years Kaplan had met with Eppolito and Caracappa he had never been surveilled by law enforcement officials who routinely followed known organized crime figures like Kaplan? Had not Kaplan led the FBI to Casso in 1994, as Casso believed when he ordered the hit on Kaplan? The implication was that Kaplan had deliberately arranged to have Casso arrested, which Kaplan flatly denied. "In all honesty," Kaplan said, ''I'm a very good driver. I'm good at watching my mirrors and making U-turns. That's why Casso never got to kill me."

As Eppolito listened to Kaplan's testimony, the veneer of defiance he had adopted from the beginning of the trial slowly started to disappear. Before the proceedings started, it had seemed that the defense had an excellent opportunity of prevailing. Caracappa and Eppolito had completely denied conspiring with Kaplan. But how could Kaplan know so much about the two NYPD detectives, in such detail, with such convincing recall? He had testified that Eppolito's wife, Fran, used to dye her hair blond. Kaplan knew that Eppolito had a girlfriend, with an apartment in Bensonhurst, where they met on occasion. Kaplan knew Eppolito collected snakes and expensive knives. Listening, Eppolito pulled at his collar to give himself breathing room. One of the courtroom artists drawing sketches during the trial for newspapers and television news had noted the drastic physical transformation of Eppolito during the days Kaplan gave evidence. His flesh was wan, his shoulders were sloping, and there were large black bags under his eyes. "He looks like an ice-cream cone," she said as she drew his portrait. "Slowly melting away."

After three days on the stand, Kaplan was finally done. His testimony had stunned the court. He was a devastating witness, it was agreed in the press room and among courtroom watchers. Cross-examination had failed to find a flaw in his account of the conspiracy with Caracappa and Eppolito. For seasoned watchers, the performance gave rise to conversations about the most impressive testimony ever given in a Brooklyn courtroom. Kaplan, it was agreed, had been the most convincing organized crime witness any observer could recall. "The Joe DiMaggio of mob snitches," Jimmy Breslin called Kaplan. If anyone would know, it was Breslin.

Still, there was no way to be sure of Kaplan's impact on the jury. Could Henoch and the team from the Eastern District turn the testimony of Downtown Burt into convictions?
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