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 2:20 am

PART 1 OF 2

CHAPTER FOURTEEN: MOB VEGAS

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."

OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND

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

PART 2 OF 2

THE "FOOLPROOF FORMULA"

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.

"I CAN GET YOU ANYTHING YOU WANT"

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.

"Guido?"

"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."

"Why?"

"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.

"Very."

"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.

TAKEDOWN

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.'''

_______________

Notes:

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

PART 1 OF 2

CHAPTER FIFTEEN: THE CIRCUS COMES TO BROOKLYN

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.

EXIT OLDHAM

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]

A BODY APPEARS

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.

BEFORE THE JUDGE

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

PART 2 OF 2

BRUCE AND EDDIE FOR THE DEFENSE

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 TORMENT OF BARRY GIBBS

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.

A WEAKNESS

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."

THE AUTHORS APPEAR

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.

"EVERYBODY GETS CAUGHT"

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 --"

"Caracappa?"

"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.

_______________

Notes:

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

PART 1 OF 2

CHAPTER SIXTEEN: TRIAL FOR THE AGES

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.

RUNNING THE BULLS

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 EAGLE TAKES THE STAND

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.

"Yes."

"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?"

"Monica."

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?"

"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.

"Yes."

"What did Mr. Eppolito say to you?"

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

"I HOPE MY DAD IS INNOCENT"

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?"

"Yes."

"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?"

"Information."

"What type of information?"

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

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

"Yes."

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

"Yes."

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

"Yes."

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?"

"Yes."

"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

PART 2 OF 2

VIVA LAS VEGAS

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.

"No."

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

"No."

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

EDDIE JABS

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 RAGES

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?"

"True."

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

Postby admin » Wed Jun 18, 2014 2:26 am

PART 1 OF 2

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN: CORROBORATION

The next two weeks would put the prosecution's case to the test. The amount of evidence compiled by the government was enormous. Thirty-four witnesses, dozens of exhibits, including murder scene photographs, old NYPD documentation, and audiotapes of Caracappa and Eppolito conniving to deal drugs and launder money in Las Vegas. The evidence was direct and concrete. Some witnesses testified to specific matters to buttress the testimony of Kaplan in ways that underscored his credibility on small questions, like the number of cats kept by the Caracappas on East 22nd Street. Others were aimed at the broad sweep of cop and mob culture.

Instead of adopting a strictly chronological and linear narrative form, Henoch employed a style that contained order but not the kind found in a conventional book or film. Even though subjective evidence as to character was banned, all of the evidence the government entered was designed to construct a portrait of two NYPD detectives that would lead a jury to believe beyond reasonable doubt they committed the heinous crimes they were charged with.

The first witness after Burton Kaplan stood down was Detective Gary Ward, a retired NYPD officer. Ward had responded to the scene where the body of murder victim Bruno Facciola had been discovered in August 1990 with a bird shoved in his mouth, signifying his status as a rat who had "sung." A photograph was entered into evidence. Next came Detective Felix Sciannamen, a thirty-nine-year veteran of the force and a partner of Eppolito's in the Six-Three in the eighties. Detective Sciannamen recalled the cramped quarters in the detective squad room, with officers having easy access to each other's files, and Eppolito's flamboyant tastes in gold jewelry. After Anthony Casso was shot in September 1986, Sciannamen testified, he had accompanied Detective Eppolito to the NYPD pound to search Casso's car. Traces of drugs were found in the car. Eppolito discovered a key ring with a safe deposit key from a bank in Canada, which was vouchered. In his testimony, Kaplan had said that Casso was eager to retrieve the key from his impounded car, explaining Eppolito's interest in searching for it despite having no legitimate connection to the case.

A man named Tom Knierim, who worked for the 14th Street Business Improvement District in the nineties when Caracappa was in charge of security, testified that the phone number Burton Kaplan had in his book under the name "Marco" was in fact the same as the beeper number Caracappa had been given by the BID. Paul Smith, a retired investigator with the New Jersey Attorney General's Office, testified that he had been involved in surveillance of the suspected mob-related company called Tiger Management in 1989. The operation was shared with the NYPD -- particularly with Detective Kenny McCabe, whom Smith trusted implicitly. McCabe had died before the trial and thus could not testify but had told Oldham that he was certain Caracappa pumped him for information on matters like the Tiger Management surveillance.

Victoria Vreeland, an investigator with the New Jersey Attorney General's Office on her very first assignment as a law enforcement official during the surveillance of Tiger Management, took the stand next. On April 19, 1989, she testified, she watched from a motel window across the road as a man driving in a recreational vehicle entered the property of Tiger Management. Vreeland had observed in amazement as the man searched in the same places where law enforcement technicians had placed listening devices only days earlier. The prosecution entered into evidence videotape from that day. The silent black-and-white footage showed a fat, hairy, middle-aged man dressed in an undershirt and wearing a fedora -- a cartoon version of a gangster, circa 1989 -- climbing telephone poles and scuttling in and out of the mobile home as he found the government's listening devices. Ironically, as he uncovered the audio surveillance, the man was oblivious to the fact that he was being recorded by video cameras, lending an air of farce to the man's brazen behavior.

With every witness, Hayes and Cutler probed for inconsistencies, hoping to cast doubt on some corner of the case in the hope of convincing the jury that if one piece was dubious none of the evidence could be relied upon. Eddie Hayes was an expert on the NYPD, and close to many Major Case Squad detectives, but his questions yielded few, if any, concessions from the witnesses, or comfort for the accused. As the prosecutors constructed the case, well-known criminal defense attorneys frequently stopped by to watch. Jerry Shargel, once Kaplan's attorney and employer of Kaplan's daughter as a law clerk, was an eminence in the defense bar with a beard and designer tortoiseshell glasses. Bald with a full silver-tinged beard, Shargel had been Bruce Cutler's co-counsel when he won acquittals for John Gotti in the 1980s. Shargel responded to press inquiries about the problems the government might face in prosecuting crimes that were fifteen and twenty years old saying, "It's a big risk. RICO doesn't cover sporadic and disconnected criminal behavior." During Kaplan's testimony Shargel told the Guardian that if the charges were true, "it has to be the rawest breach of a police officer's duty perhaps in history."

Each morning, Judge Weinstein set aside time to hear motions from the prosecution and defense. One week into the trial, Henoch rose to call Burton Kaplan's former defense attorney Judd Burstein to the stand. The testimony Burstein would provide would detail conversations he had had with Kaplan in 1994 and again in 1996 regarding the cooperation of Anthony Casso and Kaplan's relationship with Casso and former detectives Caracappa and Eppolito. Henoch said the evidence would rebut the suggestion by the defense that Kaplan had made up his story of the cops while in prison in a desperate bid to get out early and alive.

Ordinarily, such evidence would be inadmissable as hearsay -- Burstein would be testifying about what Kaplan had said about Caracappa and Eppolito, not about a conversation he was directly involved in. Federal rules of evidence provided for limited exceptions. Always in command of his courtroom, Weinstein handled the legal arguments with dispatch. Burstein had come forward and approached the government with his evidence, not the other way around, Weinstein noted. His client, Burt Kaplan, had waived attorney-client privilege. By suggesting that Kaplan had a motive to lie when he flipped in 2004, he ruled, the defense had "opened the door" for the prosecution to lead evidence showing Kaplan had made earlier statements consistent with his current testimony. In this case that meant Kaplan's conversations with Burstein about being the "go-between" for Casso and Caracappa and Eppolito, which occurred in 1994 and 1996, might be taken by the jury to show that Kaplan's evidence was credible. Any ambiguity in the law must be decided in favor of the defense, Weinstein added, so anything that Kaplan had said to Burstein subsequent to his arrest in 1996 would not be admitted, a distinction that severely restricted the government -- but allowed Burstein to re-create for the jury the sequence of events that sent Kaplan on the run when Casso flipped in 1994.

Outside the court, Cutler and Hayes were plainly outraged that a member of their fraternal order of defense attorneys was assisting the government -- worse, Burstein had volunteered to help the enemy. Attorneys would wind up in the Witness Protection Program, Hayes said. No one could recall such a legal oddity. Hayes said he wanted to be able to ask Burstein about large amounts of cash Kaplan had paid him over the years. There was a financial motive, Hayes told Judge Weinstein, for Burstein to come forward and support Kaplan's testimony. Weinstein was appalled by the accusation against Burstein.

"I'm not going to subject a distinguished member of this bar to that harassment," he told Hayes.

"I've never seen this before," Hayes sighed.

Burstein was in his early fifties, a prosperous attorney who had quit criminal practice to represent civil clients in the mid-nineties. From the mid-eighties he had represented Kaplan in matters ranging from an alleged heroin importation conspiracy to Kaplan's scheme to sell Peruvian passports to Hong Kong businessmen. When Casso flipped in the spring of 1994, Burstein testified that he had contacted Kaplan immediately. He knew the pair were close. "You didn't have to be Sherlock Holmes to know Mr. Kaplan might have some legal difficulties," Burstein testified. When Casso's cooperation became public that year, revealing the role of Caracappa and Eppolito in the murder of Eddie Lino, there was no mention in the press of Burton Kaplan's role, or even his name. If Kaplan had concocted the story, there was no way he could have known what he knew when he contacted Burstein in the spring of 1994. "Mr. Kaplan told me it was a big problem for him. He said he was the go-between for Lino and for other matters. The sum and the substance was that there was more than one murder."

"Did Mr. Kaplan say he was the go-between for Anthony Casso and a federal agent?" the prosecution asked.

"Absolutely not," Burstein said. "It was cops."

Eddie Hayes winced. In the summer of 2005, Burstein testified, he saw a piece on the case on the television show Dateline NBC. From his knowledge of Kaplan, Burstein deduced that Kaplan must be cooperating with the government against Caracappa and Eppolito. He contacted the Eastern District and said that if Kaplan waived attorney-client privilege, he, Burstein, would be willing to tell them about Kaplan's prior statements regarding his conspiracy with Caracappa and Eppolito. For years, Burstein had suggested to Kaplan that it was in his interests to cooperate, but his client had refused.

"Burt Kaplan had this ethic about not cooperating against other people," Burstein testified.

In cross-examination, Eddie Hayes asked if Burstein had considered the possibility that Kaplan might use the information about Casso's cooperation to kill Casso's family, or warn others in the mafia. Burstein testified that he didn't consider Kaplan an organized crime figure -- perhaps naively. "It never crossed my mind that this guy had a propensity for violence." Hayes's anger at Burstein flared as he asked, with outrage, if Burstein had been aware of the murder of Israel Greenwald. Burstein blandly replied no.

Cutler had known Burstein since the early eighties, when they first worked together. "People liked you, Judd, and they trusted you," Cutler said. "Didn't you at one time open a big office with green furniture and a machine that served cappuccino coffee?"

"It almost bankrupted me," Burstein replied.

Cutler asked if Burstein was aware that Kaplan and Casso had met thirty-five to forty times when Casso was on the lam in the early nineties. It was during this time, Cutler suggested, that the pair had come up with the idea of framing Caracappa and Eppolito. Standing next to the jury box, Cutler bent deeply to the floor and scooped and gathered air into his hand to express the lack of substance to the plan that the villains had come up with against two innocent hero cops. "They concocted some scheme," Cutler said, voice rising. "Concocted some scheme," Cutler bellowed.

Burstein did not answer.

THE DELUGE

Before the arrest of Caracappa and Eppolito, Oldham and the cadre had gathered a significant amount of evidence. After the arrests, as Henoch took control of the investigation and turned it into a prosecution, an even larger cargo of corroborative evidence had been collected. In state cases, there was a legal requirement that evidence given by criminal accomplices be independently corroborated. RICO had no equivalent provision. Kaplan's evidence could convict, in and of itself. But while corroboration wasn't technically necessary, it was a practical imperative.

Detective Steven Rodriguez from the NYPD Criminal Records Division took the stand to testify. He was a twenty-three-year veteran who had been promoted to first grade, highly unusual honor for an officer who had an inside job pushing paper. Rodriguez was an expert on NYPD recording systems. He explained to the jury how the department kept track of all information requests run by members of the force at the time. Detectives had to provide their tax identification number. It was a kind of fingerprint inside the NYPD. The point was to ensure there was a paper trail. The only permitted use of the system was for official purposes.

Detective Rodriguez told the jury that searches in the Identification Section resulted in the production of a criminal history sheet for the name of the person in question that listed criminal pedigree, aliases, a description, and contact information. Officers could make a request by telephone or in person. A record of all checks were mailed monthly to commanders in the units throughout the force to verify that the checks were being used properly. The only permitted purpose for a check was in pursuit of an investigation or for an official reason. Members of the service were strictly forbidden from using the database of the NYPD for personal reasons, to do favors, or, of course, in return for money.

In the courtroom, the lights were dimmed and Exhibit 23A was put up on the projector. A Request for Information at 10:30 a.m. on November 4, 1986, by Detective George Terra was shown. The check was for a man named Nicholas Guido. The date of birth of the Nicky Guido in question was January 29, 1957. Terra, then an investigator with the Brooklyn DA, was assigned to the investigation of the string of murders and drug deals committed by Robert Bering and Jimmy Hydell in the summer and fall of 1986.

The next exhibit was a Request for Information from the Major Case Squad from November 11, 1986. The tax identification number of the detective making the request was 862810 -- Detective Stephen Caracappa. There were two names in the search: Felix Andrugar and Nicky Guido, both done under "Case Number 341." The date of birth for the Nick Guido requested was different from the one Terra had sought. This Nick Guido was born on February 2, 1960 -- the date of birth of the young man shot and killed on Christmas Day 1986. It was the search that Tommy Dades had found in the files Oldham had given him. "Caracappa had run Nicky Guido -- the wrong Nicky Guido," Oldham said. "There were simply no circumstances under which Caracappa would have run a search on the Nicky Guido who worked for the telephone company and lived a quiet, innocent life. The person processing the request had no way to check on the case number provided by the detective. It was taken on faith that the detective was giving a valid case number. The weakness in the system was that it trusted but had no way of verifying.

"Caracappa could be confident that the Guido search was lost in the maze of names and taxpayer identification numbers of all the different detectives from all of the squads and precincts in the city. He bet that the NYPD's filing system was a sinkhole. He didn't expect me to carry his personnel file around for nearly a decade. He didn't expect Tommy Dades to find the search. He thought the past was past and in this case it wasn't."

The jury learned that Caracappa had misused the system on numerous occasions. Later in November 1986 he had run the name Nick Guido again. This time the search was disguised within a list of four other names to make the name Guido appear to be attached to a larger investigation. The field of names included in the report would include the right Nicky Guido (born in 1957), who was then on the run from Casso and living in Florida. Caracappa had also run the record of Peter Savino, the Genovese associate secretly informing for the government in the Windows Case. Detectives Caracappa and Eppolito, it may be remembered, had told Casso that Savino was an informant but the Lucheses had been unable to convince Vincent Chin Gigante and the Genoveses to murder him.

Detective Rodriguez testified that it was even discovered that Caracappa had searched the criminal record of "Monica Singleton." She was born on July 5, 1950, and no case number was attached to the request. Why had he searched her name? This was the woman Caracappa was about to marry.

On cross-examination Hayes pointed out that Caracappa had followed proper NYPD procedures on the searches, filling in the requests according to protocol. Detective Rodriguez agreed. Hayes said that Caracappa would have to be "a falling-down moron" not to know that there would be a permanent record of his search for Nicky Guido. Rodriguez had no reply. Hayes suggested it would be easy for a detective to get the permission of his boss to run the name of his wife to find out if she had a criminal record. The question seemed to astonish Detective Rodriguez. "There were no circumstances that would allow the NYPD Criminal Records Division, or any officer in the force, to misuse criminal history sheets," Oldham said. "The suggestion was absurd."

SECRET LIVES

The pace of the prosecution case quickened as a series of witnesses were called, each with a particular purpose, each adding another brick to the wall Henoch and his team were building. Investigators followed up on Kaplan's tip that Detective Eppolito had kept a lover for half a dozen years in the eighties. Cabrini Cama appeared in court wearing a tight-fitting brown pantsuit, her hair teased up and caught in a black bow. Eppolito's wife, Fran, stared silently ahead as Cama said she had lived with her teenage son and dog in an apartment on 84th Street in Bensonhurst, within the confines of the Six-Three, Eppolito's precinct at the time. She said she had met Detective Caracappa approximately ten times over the years in which she carried on the illicit affair with Eppolito. Cama pointed across the court and identified Caracappa and Eppolito. She said Eppolito had met with Burton Kaplan at her apartment -- the men went to another room to speak. A photo array with six late-middle-aged, balding white men was introduced. Cama picked out number four, Burton Kaplan. On cross-examination, Cutler got Cama to testify that Eppolito was "a nice guy" who had left "old feelings" behind when he moved to Las Vegas. Hayes tried to elicit testimony that she often went out with Eppolito and other cops. But she replied, ''It was always Louie and Steve." Caracappa was polite and a gentleman, she said.

Eppolito's nervous twitch, which had become pronounced during Kaplan's testimony, was now accompanied by repeated gulping.

The next witness, Betty Hydell, was dressed in black, wearing glasses, her hair white. She sat on the witness stand and caught sight of Eppolito and gave a sharp intake of breath through her teeth. Three women who accompanied her sat in the gallery on the verge of tears. A picture of Jimmy Hydell was displayed on the overhead projector. She told the court about the day of October 18, 1986. She said Jimmy was going to Brooklyn; he didn't tell her why. She described going outside to confront the two men circling the block. There was a big one, with black hair and gold necklaces, and a little one, dressed in a dark suit. When the big one, the driver, pulled out his badge, she said she grew angry. "You should let people know who you are and what you're doing," she testified that she had said. "If you're a cop why are you hiding?" She said Jimmy called her that afternoon to say he would be home for dinner. He never came home. His body has never been recovered. Betty Hydell did not testify about the Sally Jessy Raphael Show, or identify Caracappa and Eppolito. The "golden nugget" was not introduced as evidence. The defense had no questions for Betty Hydell.

Onward the prosecution marched, relentlessly accumulating territory. Rodolfo Wazlawik, an elderly man long the superintendent at 12 East 20th Street, testified that Steve and his wife, Monica, lived in apartment 10A, one floor down from the penthouse. The phone number was 420-0150, the same number entered in Kaplan's phone book.

Before trial Hayes had suggested to the authors of an article in Vanity Fair magazine and in press conferences that the defense would reveal evidence that Kaplan had secretly been an informant for the FBI for many years. The FBI Special Agent who had run Otto Heidel as an informant for more than a decade now took the stand. Patrick Colgan, retired and white-haired, testified that he had chased Kaplan for decades -- for his entire twenty-eight-year career. Once a month, he estimated, he knocked on Kaplan's door and tried to convince him of the merits of working for the FBI. The two exchanged social pleasantries, and Kaplan was unfailingly polite. But he refused to cooperate. Kaplan showed no sign of weakness, and he never appeared to so much as consider Colgan's offers.

In cross-examination Hayes suggested that if Kaplan was such an attractive target for the FBI, why was there never any evidence of him interacting with Caracappa and Eppolito? Colgan responded that Kaplan made frequent appearances in surveillance footage. He came and went from known organized crime locations -- the 19th Hole, El Caribe, Allenwood penitentiary. But Kaplan had never been the "target" of an FBI operation.

In point of fact, the notion that Kaplan had been Colgan's snitch was preposterous. He was not asked on the stand, but after he testified he told why. In 1997, after Kaplan and Galpine had been convicted in the pot case, Kaplan had contacted Special Agent Colgan. Kaplan was in the Metropolitan Correctional Center awaiting sentencing, and facing twenty years, or more, if he didn't get a sentence reduction. Colgan, who had retired from the FBI a few months earlier, agreed to see Kaplan at the MCC. They shared small talk, as they had countless times before. "We had a good conversation," Colgan recalled. "We always did. We asked after each other, the family, the usual. Burt wanted to know how to mitigate or get out of his sentence. I laid it out for him. First, you have to get a new attorney. Then, I told Burt, he needed to cough everything up. I said, 'You're not going to get a pass. I will get you a United States attorney and a private attorney and you will have to tell them everything you know.' Burt said, 'Pat, you know I can't do that.' He didn't have to say what he meant. It was understood. If he talked, Burt would be dead in jail, and his family would be dead on the outside. I told him there was no way he was going to sway a judge if he didn't do what I said. I knew Burt had a great deal of knowledge. I didn't know how much. I had no idea about Caracappa and Eppolito. I did know that Burt was never an informant before he started to talk in 2004. He didn't know where to turn to get a lesser sentence, and if he was a cooperator he would have known where to go and what to say. He would have had proof of prior cooperation. I was shocked when he flipped. I was sure he would take his secrets to the grave."

TOMMY SINGS

Tommy Galpine was big, simple, and slow, a forty-nine-year-old high school dropout and career criminal, Brooklyn born and raised. He sported a large mustache. Appearing in court in a brown sports coat, he testified that he had met Kaplan when he was sixteen years old. Since that time, he had been in Kaplan's thrall, as errand boy, apprentice, and finally partner in crime. Galpine had assisted Kaplan in legitimate business, trucking leisure suits and designer jeans and velour sweat suits around the city. He had also aided Kaplan in illegitimate commerce, bootlegging clothes, fencing stolen goods, dealing drugs. Galpine had been convicted with Kaplan in the marijuana case and sentenced to sixteen years -- 192 months, he specified. He had served nine years. Galpine cited his precise release date, with time reduced according to the guidelines, as April 26, 2011.

From the witness stand, Galpine identified Eppolito sitting at the defense table. Galpine had not seen Eppolito since the early nineties, the last time he had given him cash on Kaplan's behalf. He said Kaplan had introduced him to Eppolito in approximately 1988. Before then, Kaplan had told Galpine about his dealings with NYPD officers. Kaplan called them "the bulls," Galpine said, a common street expression referring to detectives.

Galpine testified that he had known Anthony Casso since the midseventies, when they had been introduced by Kaplan. Over the years he had often taken "things" to Casso for Kaplan: money, paperwork, messages. "I run around," Galpine said. "I do things. I'm a doer, I'm not a talker." Galpine lived near Casso and they had prearranged meeting places: a car wash on Utica Avenue, a parking lot in a shopping mall, the Golden Ox Chinese restaurant in Mill Basin -- the same place Casso had been shot by Jimmy Hydell in 1986. Galpine testified that the evening Casso was shot he had been driving a gold Lincoln Town Car that Kaplan had given him and registered under Progressive Distributors, one of his clothing companies. After Casso was nearly killed, Kaplan gave Galpine a manila envelope and told him to take it to Casso. The envelope contained the NYPD DD-Ss for the investigation of the shooting of Gaspipe Casso. The men named therein were the men about to face the wrath of Casso: Jimmy Hydell, Bob Bering, Nicky Guido. The next instruction Galpine received from Kaplan was to retrieve a Ford Fury from Patty Testa's used car lot. The car was meant to appear to be a police car. "The cops" were going to use the car to hunt down Jimmy Hydell. "The car was very cop-looking," Galpine testified. So convincing was its appearance that as Galpine drove to deliver the car he was hailed by a young man on the sidewalk who wanted help and thought Galpine must be NYPD.

There were minor discrepancies in the testimony of Kaplan and Galpine. Kaplan said he had given the manila NYPD folder with the DD-5s to Casso himself; Galpine said he delivered it to Casso for Kaplan. The inconsistency was significant, perhaps, but it could be seen by the jury to only buttress the case against Caracappa and Eppolito. Galpine corroborated Kaplan in small and large matters. Galpine said he remembered Otto Heidel from the Bulova watch job pulled by the Bypass gang. Kaplan had fenced a large number of the watches through Gaspipe Casso. Heidel came to Kaplan's warehouse on Staten Island, Galpine said, with a Luchese named Georgie Zappola. Heidel was a smart aleck, Galpine said. Only a few days after the Bulova job, as members of the Bypass gang were getting arrested and suspicions were aroused that Heidel was a rat, Kaplan told Galpine to wipe their fingerprints from the watches. When Heidel was gunned down on Casso's orders after playing a game of paddleball, Galpine testified that he had come into possession of a cassette tape that "the cops" had given to Kaplan. Kaplan told Galpine to destroy the tape. Instead, Galpine said he had played part of the tape one day as he drove to Pennsylvania. The recording was of a debriefing session. Law enforcement officials were getting information from a criminal who was cooperating -- from a snitch. Galpine said he wasn't supposed to listen to the tape, and it made him nervous to defy Kaplan's instructions, but curiosity got the better of him. The names mentioned weren't familiar, but he did remember the name of the man being interviewed. It was Otto Heidel. The tape was corroboration of the information provided by Detectives Caracappa and Eppolito about Heidel's cooperation.

It was the practice of Kaplan and Galpine to talk every night to review the events of the day, he said. Once, Galpine testified, he went to Kaplan's house and was told he couldn't come inside. "The cops" were in the house, Kaplan told Galpine, and he didn't want them to meet. Another time, Galpine came into Kaplan's house to discover he was in the kitchen with a large man wearing gold chains around his neck and an NYPD pinkie ring. Kaplan introduced the man as "Louie."

"Tommy is like a son to me," Kaplan told Eppolito.

The next time Galpine saw Detective Eppolito was in the Caribbean resort of Martinique or St. Martin -- he couldn't remember which island he flew to. Kaplan had given Galpine $10,000 with the instruction to give it to Eppolito. The year was 1988. Galpine testified he flew Continental out of Newark Airport. The round trip was completed in a single day, there and back. Before he left on vacation, Eppolito had approached Kaplan and asked if he would be willing to send him money if he ran short while he was away. He was taking his three children and mother-in-law on a vacation, and his American Express was maxed out. During his testimony, Kaplan had said he offered to give Eppolito the money before he left, but Eppolito insisted he would only take the money if he needed it.

Galpine testified that Eppolito was waiting for him at the airport. Eppolito wanted the money to purchase a time-share. Eppolito and Galpine sat together for an hour during Galpine's layover. Eppolito suggested Galpine stay for dinner, or perhaps overnight. Galpine told him he had to return to New York; he had no interest in befriending the corrupt detective. The danger of the association was evident to Galpine, even if Eppolito appeared to believe such business could be conducted cordially.

During the lunch break in Galpine's testimony, a rumor circulated through the courthouse that Gaspipe Casso had contacted the prosecutors. Casso, people whispered, wanted to testify in the case. He was said to have recanted the version of events he told the FBI in 1994 and 60 Minutes in 1998. The attempted intervention threatened to upend the trial; there was no way to know what Casso might say if he testified for the defense. "Prisoners like Casso are constantly trying to find a way to get back in the game," Oldham said. "They are locked away for the rest of their lives. In our society people don't think what that really means -- the tedium and despair. At the least, Casso would get a change of scenery if he came to testify. He would get a ride on an airplane. He would get to see New York City."

As Eppolito walked across Cadman Plaza toward the Plaza Diner, where he regularly ate lunch, he stopped to give an interview to a news radio reporter.

"Do you want to see Mr. Casso on the stand?" the reporter asked.

"Absolutely," Eppolito said.

"You have no fear of him up there on the stand?"

"I've never been afraid of anything in my life," Eppolito said. "He's not going to bother me."

"You're not worried he could incriminate you further and change his story again?"

"If he does, he does. That's the way it goes."

"What do you think of Bruce Cutler's defense?"

"I have faith in Bruce," Eppolito said. "I always have. I always will."

"What do you want people to know today?" the reporter asked. "That you were set up?"

"To me it's an obvious frame," Eppolito said, referring to Galpine's inability to recall which island he went to. "It's blatant to me. Have you ever got on a plane and not known where you went? Has anyone ever got on a plane and not known where they went?"

Yet the trip to the islands was a provable, concrete fact, and testimony after lunch showed why. Even though nearly twenty years had passed, records could be checked to see if Eppolito or Galpine were in the Caribbean at the time in question, or if Eppolito had purchased a timeshare. Joel Campanella had investigated Tommy Galpine's alleged day trip. Campanella had put a "travel query" out for Tommy Galpine for that time period. The search was to see if a Certified Travel Record had been generated by Customs for Galpine. The records were created if a passenger paid for his ticket with cash, or traveled back and forth from a destination alone on the same day. And, indeed, Galpine had been flagged by immigration and Customs officials on April 13, 1989. He had flown to and from St. Martin, the exquisite tiny island located in the Caribbean just where the Antilles curve to the south. Henoch introduced into evidence an application for a time-share membership purchase in the Royal Islands Club in St. Martin on April 11, 1989, by Louis and Fran Eppolito. And on April 13, 1989, as Henoch displayed to the jury, Galpine had flown to St. Martin -- two days after the Eppolitos had treated themselves to the Royal Islands time-share.

Cutler's cross-examination of Galpine began by focusing on Galpine's extensive criminal history.

"It's something I did with my life," Galpine responded. "I had a choice." Asked about his decision to talk, Galpine said he never expected to cooperate. "I thought I would never be here, but I am." Cutler countered that his testimony was aimed at obtaining a "Rule 35 letter," recommending his early release from prison. Galpine said he had confessed to committing many crimes, including a large number he had never been charged with and that the government had no idea about, including murder. "I told them everything. And along with that came Louis Eppolito."

Cutler pounded his elbow on the lectern, startling those in attendance with the ferocity of the blow. He bellowed, "That is the ticket! Implicating Lou Eppolito!"

"I try to be a fair guy, to tell the truth," Galpine said. "All those lies in my life got me nowhere."

Next, Eddie Hayes took his turn at Galpine.

Heroin dealing was despicable, a destructive force in minority neighborhoods throughout the city, Hayes said.

"I didn't think about it," Galpine said. ''I'm not looking to play it down. I did a lot of stupid things in my life."

"Why would anyone believe that anyone capable of dealing heroin was not capable of lying so they can go home?" Hayes asked. Hayes was imploring the jurors with his eyes. The contention Hayes was making was that each successive witness was lying to try to gain a personal benefit. By the middle of the second week, with half a dozen names still on the government witness list, the effort was increasingly forlorn. Galpine didn't reply; the question was rhetorical. "No further questions," Hayes said.

The redirect by Henoch was brief but effective. "Are you lying for Burt Kaplan?" Henoch asked in the redirect.

"No," said Galpine.

Galpine testified that when he saw the report on television that Detectives Caracappa and Eppolito had been arrested, he knew Kaplan must have decided to cooperate. Like Kaplan, Galpine had refused to cooperate when he was arrested on the marijuana trafficking charges in 1996. Law enforcement had tried to convince him to testify against Kaplan. Galpine rejected any deal. But with Kaplan's cooperation Galpine knew he was next. Galpine said he considered his options carefully. He had six years left in his sentence. He was still young enough to construct a new life. If he were indicted and convicted of further charges, on the basis of Kaplan's testimony, he would never get out of prison. Galpine was taken by the authorities to New York City. He met with his attorney, and he met with the FBI, DEA, and prosecutors. Galpine refused to cooperate. He had no idea that Kaplan had specifically included him in the deal he struck with the Eastern District. Kaplan's wife, Eleanor, came to see him and asked what he was going to do. Galpine said he was going to rely on the Fifth Amendment and refuse to answer questions on the grounds that it would tend to incriminate himself.

Once again, Galpine was backed into a corner. "It seemed like I was going to get more time for this," he testified. "There was no way I wasn't going to be charged with obstruction of justice or pulled into the conspiracy."

Henoch called Joel Campanella, the only member of the cadre to take the stand. Campanella described the protocol Henoch used for debriefing sessions with Kaplan and Galpine. The point was to get the story from the witness, Campanella testified, not to feed it to him. Incidents would not be suggested, or locations named, or identities disclosed. No reports or documents or notes were shown to cooperators. Specific questions were asked, without naming the individuals involved, so the cooperator couldn't confirm the version he thought the government wanted to hear. Campanella testified that he had been involved in the many debriefing sessions with Kaplan and Galpine. Campanella had sought medical records showing that Kaplan had been a patient at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary on 14th Street on the day after Eddie Lino was murdered. The fact confirmed Kaplan's testimony, as to his whereabouts. It was where Eppolito had gone to see Kaplan to tell him the Lino job was complete.

THE UNMARKED GRAVE

The murder of Israel Greenwald had hung over the trial from the first words of the prosecution's opening statement. Henoch and his team now turned to the final pieces of evidence, and the path that had led them to a parking shed on Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn. The first witness called was Tammy Ahmed, the daughter of Frank Santora Jr.; she was a quiet and shy woman in her mid-thirties who had the appearance of being a suburban mother. Her father was a co-conspirator with Caracappa and Eppolito in the deal with Kaplan and Casso. Santora had been shot and killed on Bay 8th Street in 1987. She said she had been very close to him and often went with him as he drove around Brooklyn doing business. After the murder, she testified, her father's cousin, Detective Eppolito, came to their house two or three times a month, sometimes with his girlfriend, Cabrini Cama, sometimes with Caracappa. Photographs from her Sweet Sixteen birthday party were produced. The event included entire tables filled with wiseguys, many of them later murder victims. Ahmed testified that there were only two members of the NYPD present at the event at Pisa Caterers on 86th Street in Bensonhurst-Stephen Caracappa and Louis Eppolito.

"My father didn't like the police very much," she testified. "The police weren't his favorite subject."

Sitting at the defense table, Eppolito smiled. On the stand, Ahmed carefully and insistently refused to make eye contact with Eppolito. Ahmed said that as best she could recall, she was present only once when Detective Caracappa talked with her father. Burton Kaplan had been a friend of her father's, she said, and she recalled buying jeans from his Brooklyn warehouse after her father was released from prison in the mid-eighties.

Investigators for the Eastern District had come to Tammy Ahmed a few months earlier and she had gone through the remnants of her father's possessions. One relic she had kept was his phone book. The pages were projected on the screen for the jury. Kaplan's number was in the book, along with Eppolito's Long Island, work, and "private" number. "Steve (Lou friend)" was listed. There was also an entry for "Pete's tow truck." The number referred to a man who had appeared in a photograph at her Sweet Sixteen and that she only knew as "Pete from the gas station."

Tammy Ahmed's testimony finished, the next witness, Peter Franzone, appeared from behind Judge Weinstein's bench looking terrified. Franzone was a man who had kept a secret a very long time. It was Franzone who had led investigators to the decomposed body of Israel Greenwald the previous April. Franzone was so petrified of testifying against Caracappa and Eppolito he had given up his identity and gone into the Witness Protection Program. At Franzone's request, Judge Weinstein asked the court artists making sketches of witnesses not to draw Franzone's likeness. A small nondescript man, with a mustache and salt and pepper hair parted on the side, he would have little trouble blending into a crowd. Face cast downward to avoid eye contact, Franzone swore to tell the truth, even as he shook with fear. He said he had quit school in the sixth grade, at the age of sixteen. He could not read. He said he got in trouble with the law as a young man. When he was nine years old he broke into a recycling plant with a group of his friends. The heist netted Franzone $65. He took the proceeds to Coney Island where he blew his wad on roller-coaster rides and a cowboy hat. At fourteen he was caught stealing a car. The second offense led to him being sent to a reformatory school in upstate New York. There Franzone learned to weld. When he came out of reform school and returned to Brooklyn he took a job in a wrecking yard salvaging car parts. As a young man he drove a Chinese laundry truck and fixed flat tires at a gas station. A stint as a tow truck driver on Flatlands Avenue gave Franzone a start. Mustering the money and courage to strike out on his own, Franzone then started his own company, Valiant Towing.

In 1979, Franzone rented property at 2232 Nostrand Avenue. The location was in the far reaches of Brooklyn. In the mid-eighties a customer came to him with an Oldsmobile damaged in a rear-end accident. Frank Santora Jr. wanted the car repaired. Franzone had met Santora briefly years earlier when he was working for a local gas station. Franzone was a neighborhood guy with an interest in cars. Santora told Franzone he was a "salesman" but avoided questions involving details about his work. Whatever he did for a living, Santora had the spare time to spend a couple of afternoons every week loafing around Franzone's lot while his Oldsmobile was worked on. The inference was obvious, though, especially given the white Cadillac that Santora drove. The two men became friendly. Santora had the time to go on tow jobs with Franzone. Santora invited Franzone to his home for Christmas dinner. Franzone met Santora's wife and young daughter, Tammy.

Franzone's towing and parking business was modest. The operation included nineteen enclosed parking garages running in a row in the rear of his office shed and repair workshop. There were an additional seventy-five open-air parking spaces on the lot. The garages and outdoor spaces were rented by the month. Located near a railroad track and facing the busy commercial strip of Nostrand Avenue, the shed housing the office was only large enough to accommodate a tow truck dispatcher and parking lot attendant. Over the years Franzone testified he encountered problems with local kids climbing the fence and stealing hubcaps. He installed 150- watt fluorescent lights near the collision shop, spotlights over the garages, and placed a large mercury light at the end of the lot to illuminate the premises. He allowed a homeless man to live in a van in the back in order to scare away local kids. The shed was equipped with multiple windows to allow attendants to clearly see people coming and going. His business was open twenty-four hours a day, year round.

Valiant Towing was located less than a mile from the Six-Three precinct house. Soon after Franzone took on the job of repairing Santora's Oldsmobile, his "salesman" client introduced Franzone to a detective in the Six-Three. That day Detective Louis Eppolito pulled up, beeped his horn, and double-parked on Nostrand Avenue in front of Franzone's property. Santora called Franzone over to introduce him. "This is my cousin," Santora said. Eppolito was heavyset, wearing gold chains around his neck, and sporting a thick mustache. In the weeks that followed, Franzone met Eppolito a few more times with Santora. The cousins were close, although one was a cop and the other was a "salesman" who didn't appear to have to work for a living. Eppolito rented one of Franzone's parking sheds. Business arrangements were informal for Franzone, a simple man unable to cope with the routines of written contracts, record keeping, legal documentation. His wife kept the books. Eppolito took space number ten. He told Franzone not to enter his name in any records. Eppolito paid $50 a month in rent, a lower price than paid by the general public. The detective parked a maroon Chrysler four-door in the garage; it looked like an old highway patrol car that had been repainted. Whenever he encountered Eppolito, Franzone testified, he only spoke in monosyllabic "yes" and "no" despite Eppolito's compulsion to be familiar and talkative.

Franzone had been summoned to court to testify about a particular day in the mid-eighties. He told the court he couldn't recall the date precisely. It was winter, he testified, toward the end of 1985, or perhaps early in 1986. In the late afternoon, when it was still light outside, Franzone saw Detective Eppolito pull into the lot in the maroon Dodge or Chrysler and drive to the rear of the lot. Eppolito backed up so that his car was aimed toward the parking shed he rented. A few moments later, Franzone caught sight of a shadow moving out of the corner of his eye. The windows in the shed allowed him to keep track of movements everywhere in his domain -- from Nostrand Avenue, or the back by the railroad tracks. Franzone turned and saw Santora approaching with two men. One of the men was thin and wearing a trench coat with his collar up. Franzone got a good look at the man. He was white with dark hair, a mustache, and his face was pocked with small pits. Between Santora and the other man there was a third man. The man in the middle was wearing a skullcap, or yarmulke. He was dressed in a blue pinstripe suit. The threesome walked in lockstep, shoulder to shoulder, giving the man in the middle no chance of escape.

Before the judge and jury, Henoch now measured the distance Franzone had stood from the men using a tape measure. He was about fifteen feet away, with a clear view of the men for approximately twenty seconds. Franzone testified that Santora undid the lock on Eppolito's parking shed and opened the door and the three men stepped inside. Santora closed the door behind them. Twenty minutes or half an hour passed, Franzone said. When the door opened only two men emerged. Santora closed the door and he and the thin man in the trench coat walked by Franzone again -- and again he got a direct look at his face, despite his raised collar and bent head. The man in the yarmulke didn't emerge. Five seconds later Eppolito, who had been parked opposite his parking shed throughout this time, drove past Franzone and pulled onto Nostrand Avenue.

After a few minutes, Frank Santora Jr. returned in his white Cadillac. Santora told Franzone he wanted to show him something. Franzone followed Santora to Eppolito's parking garage. It was still daylight outside. Santora opened the door. Franzone's eyes adjusted to the darkness inside. He made out the shape of a man lying on the floor. Santora turned on the light. Franzone was staring at the body of the man wearing the yarmulke.

"You got to help me bury the body," Santora said. "You're an accessory."

Franzone stared at the dead man. He knew nothing about him: no name, background, why he had been murdered. Franzone did know that Louie Eppolito was a detective in the Six-Three. Eppolito had stood lookout during the murder. Franzone had no idea who the third man was, but he knew Santora and had just seen what he was capable of doing. Santora was a murderer with an NYPD detective as accomplice and protection. Franzone knew he was in deep trouble, and believed he had nowhere to turn.

"If you tell anybody," Santora said, "I'll kill you and your fucking family."

Franzone testified that Santora told Franzone to wait. Santora opened and then closed the garage door, leaving Franzone with the body. Santora returned with two shovels, two bags of cement, and jugs of white lime powder. Franzone started digging. There was a thin layer of cement but it had been broken by the weight of cars resting on it. The earth underneath was loose and sandy. Franzone dug and dug. Santora was talking to him but Franzone didn't listen. All Franzone could think about was the trouble he was in. He was convinced no one would believe him if he said a police officer had been involved in the murder. As he reached a depth of five feet, Franzone stopped. He thought Santora was going to shoot him and leave him in the hole along with the other man.

"I was too scared to go to the police," Franzone told the jury. "Who would believe me? They would probably call Louis Eppolito and say you've got a guy here saying you killed someone. They would get me and kill me, or lock me up and get someone in jail to kill me. I was scared for my wife and children. I didn't tell anyone -- not my wife, not no one."

Oldham said, "Once he had been compromised by Santora, Caracappa, and Eppolito, Franzone was at their mercy. For years Louie Eppolito hid his police-style sedan in the shed he rented from Franzone. There is no way to know for sure but there's good reason to ask whether he was parking on top of Israel Greenwald's remains."

Franzone next saw the thin man who had been with Santora that day at a Sweet Sixteen party for Santora's daughter Tammy. Detective Eppolito came to Franzone's table and said hello. Franzone introduced his wife. The mousy garage owner was terrified of the outsized cop. The entire scene terrified him -- Santora, Eppolito, the thin man in the trench coat from "that day" who was standing behind Eppolito at the party. They had killed and gotten away with it. Franzone reasoned they could easily do the same to him. He had not wanted to attend the Sweet Sixteen party, he testified, but he was afraid failure to come would offend Santora. Franzone thought it might signal he was not reliable -- they might think Franzone was talking to the cops.

On the night of February 13, 1987, one year after Israel Greenwald had been killed, Franzone was working in the dispatch shed when the telephone rang. It was Frank Santora Jr. calling. Franzone knew that Santora was in the collision shop only a few yards away. Franzone had let Eppolito and Santora into the shop. Another car, a brown Cadillac with two passengers, had backed into the shop. Franzone saw two more people arrive. He stayed in the shed, as far from Eppolito and Santora as possible. The week before, Franzone's wife had given birth to a son. As a gesture of celebration, Santora had presented the couple with a garbage bag filled with baby clothes. Franzone threw the infant outfits away. He didn't want his son wearing anything that had come from Santora. On the phone, Santora wanted to know how to turn the heat down in the shop. The area was extremely hot. Franzone told him to turn the toggle on the pipes but Santora couldn't find the right switch. Franzone made the short walk to the collision shop.

Walking in, Franzone saw two men wrapping a dead man in a brown canvas tarp. The tarp was tied with rope, trussed like a slab of roast beef. "Oh, my God," Franzone said, terrified again. Franzone was told to help the two men lift the body into the trunk of the brown Cadillac.

Franzone had no idea who the men were, and he never saw them again. The dead man was a wiseguy named Pasquale Varialle. His body was found at five in the morning on St. Valentine's Day in front of a church by patrol officer Sylvia Cantwell. Varialle's hands were tied behind his back, as Greenwald's had been. The body was on the sidewalk, with snow drifting over the tarp in front of a Catholic church located in the heart of the Six-Three -- the stomping grounds of Detective Eppolito.

Franzone said that Santora and Eppolito continued to frequent the garage until Santora was gunned down. Santora's wife called Franzone's wife to tell her that Frankie had been killed. Peter Franzone remembered being happy and relieved. But he was still worried about Eppolito. Franzone testified that he went to Santora's wake. "I wanted to let them know I wasn't going to tell nobody," he said.

There was a hush in the court as Judge Weinstein took a break in the proceedings. During the trial there had been many moments when the case against Caracappa and Eppolito appeared devastating. Franzone's testimony was yet another. But it had a different sense, qualitatively and quantitatively. There was no conceivable way Franzone had concocted the story to frame the two cops. The body of Israel Greenwald, compounded by the testimony of Burton Kaplan regarding the murder of the jeweler, was powerful corroboration. Franzone was simple-minded, nearly childish in his guilelessness. A year after Santora had died, Franzone sold the business and took a job as a maintenance man for a city-owned building. He had lived quietly until March 2005, when he saw the newspaper reports detailing the arrests of Caracappa and Eppolito. After agreeing to talk with prosecutors, he and his wife had quit their jobs and gone into hiding. He had forfeited his benefits and pension with the city, the main reason he had taken the job seventeen years earlier. He was still out of work.

The cross-examination by Eddie Hayes concentrated on the cut of the trench coat worn by the third man -- his client, Caracappa. Was it single-breasted or double-breasted, with large or small lapels? Hayes questioned Franzone about the skin blemishes the third man had -- inviting the jury to look at Caracappa and see that he had no pockmarks. He questioned the distances from which Franzone had seen the third man, implying his testimony was dubious.

Hayes, an avid gardener, attempted to show that Franzone could not have dug the hole with the spade because of the length of the handle but the demonstration was unconvincing. In the hallway on the fourth floor during a recess, Hayes insisted to reporters that there was no way Franzone could have pierced the hard cold earth with a small handheld spade in the dead of winter. The cold froze the ground, Hayes said, making it extremely difficult to dig a few inches let alone the five feet Franzone claimed to have reached that night.

But when Dr. Bradley Adams was called to testify about the uncovering of Greenwald's body, he flatly contradicted Hayes's theory. The earth is only frozen for the first few inches, Adams averred. On the stand, Franzone confirmed that the earth was loose and he had not found it particularly difficult work to dig the hole -- not with Santora supervising.

Cutler followed Hayes in his cross-examination. He started his questioning at full force, standing at the lectern and shouting at Franzone. "Maybe you were more involved in the murder than just digging the grave?"

"No," Franzone said quietly.

"We rely upon you," Cutler said, with evident distaste. "Did it bother you?"

"Of course it bothered me," Franzone said. "I was too scared to do anything about it."

Cutler displayed the photograph of Franzone at Tammy Ahmed's Sweet Sixteen party on the overhead projector. A slight smile creased Franzone's face as he sat with the other guests.

"You don't look afraid to me," Cutler said, pacing back and forth across the courtroom, his outrage gathering. He asked, "Did you call your wife and say, 'Dear, I'm going to be late for dinner, I'm burying a body'?" Cutler slammed his hand on the lectern and shouted, at the top of his lungs, "Burying a body is the most despicable, most loathsome thing a man can do."

The next witness rolled into court in a wheelchair. Joseph Pagnatta was elderly, frail, fraught as he looked around the packed court. Pagnatta worked as a parking lot attendant. He testified that he had been employed by Triple P Parking at 2232 Nostrand Avenue since the mid-eighties. He had worked for Franzone as a tow truck dispatcher as well. Pagnatta had not seen or spoken to Franzone since 1991. Pagnatta now told the jury he had been introduced to Eppolito by Franzone in the late eighties. "Louie" was how Franzone referred to Eppolito. Pagnatta said he had once washed Eppolito's car and the detective gave him a $20 tip, at the time a memorably large amount of money, the kind of money palmed out by mob high-rollers. The car Eppolito parked at the lot looked like an unmarked police car.
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Re: The Brotherhoods: The True Story of Two Cops Who Murdere

Postby admin » Wed Jun 18, 2014 2:26 am

PART 2 OF 2

THE EMBEZZLER'S TALE

Steven Corso, the crooked accountant who had worked for the FBI in Las Vegas, arrived in court dressed in a blue suit and silk tie, his face tanned and ruddy. According to the terms of the cooperation agreement Corso had entered into with the federal government, he said he was required to testify truthfully. He told the tale of his downfall, from the theft of his clients' money in New York to falsely filing income tax returns for strippers at the Crazy Horse Too nightclub in Las Vegas. Corso testified that he had pled guilty to wire fraud and attempted income tax evasion, and had been sentenced to five years for each count, but had not been incarcerated, pending his continued cooperation.

Corso was a deeply unsympathetic figure -- a dissipated fifty-year-old embezzler and heavy gambler who had cheated on his wife, lied to his clients, stolen millions of dollars, and single-handedly destroyed a thriving accounting firm. The dislike of him was palpable in the courtroom. His response was defiant indifference. Corso's reason for appearing in court was naked self-interest. He stared blankly at Eppolito and Caracappa as he recited the criminal conspiracies he had concocted to entice the two retired detectives -- and that they had eagerly leapt at.

The story told by Corso on the stand was sordid, as was the storyteller. But Corso's tale didn't have to be taken on his word. He told the court that he had worn a secret listening device to record conversations with more than two hundred people. More than a thousand hours of conversations had been taped with various underworld figures in Las Vegas. The conversations with Caracappa and Eppolito were played on the court audio systems. The clink and chatter of busy restaurants were audible, but so were the voices of Corso, Eppolito, and Caracappa.

Corso had played the part of a dirty New York accountant fascinated by the mafia. The two retired NYPD cops appeared to him to be precisely what they were: men willing to do anything to make a buck. Caracappa and Eppolito, in turn, had tried to play Corso for a fool, thinking they could make major money -- maybe millions -- from a man willing to finance Eppolito's appalling scripts.

Walking to the Plaza Diner at lunch, Eppolito continued to talk to reporters. He said he was feeling confident. Bruce Cutler was a great attorney, Eppolito said. During the lunch break on Corso's second day of testimony, after Corso had described how he introduced the idea of drugs to their dealings in Las Vegas, Eppolito was stopped by a skinny man in the hallway on the fourth floor. The man said he was a friend of Eppolito's "from the neighborhood." The two men exchanged greetings and a grimace about the predicament Eppolito found himself in. The man said he had come to court to display his support. Eppolito thanked him, lamenting the testimony of Burt Kaplan and other organized crime figures who had become cooperators. "Nobody knows how to be a man no more," Eppolito said.

The cross-examination of Corso was commenced by Cutler with indignation. He pointed out that Corso had managed to transform the theft of more than $5 million into a sweetheart deal with the government. Corso was not in prison and no charges were outstanding against him. Cutler ran through the sums stolen from various clients.

"Honor," Cutler declaimed. He held one hand in the air as if communicating with a greater power about the disgrace presented by Corso. "You dishonored yourself and your profession and your country. You stole for the worst reasons. Indifference. Callousness. Greed."

"What I did was absolutely wrong," Corso said.

Despite such honesty, Corso remained glib, cocky, his tan somehow repugnant. "Sure," he replied to repeated questions about his various schemes and conspiracies. But that didn't mean he was lying. There was tape-recorded evidence of Eppolito agreeing to have his son procure the drugs. The jury listened to Eppolito's profanity-laced grandiosity. "Listening devices are a potent investigative tool," Oldham said. "If you captured a man saying something on tape, there is simply no way for him to deny it. From the tapes, Caracappa and Eppolito clearly had no idea in the world that Corso was conspiring with the FBI but they were biting hook, line, and sinker."

The next morning, Eddie Hayes again lobbied the press gallery. There were seven black jurors, Hayes said, and they had good reason to hate the FBI. He was going to run a "Washington defense," he said. The reporters assigned to cover the Eastern District every day, John Marzulli from the Daily News and Zach Haberman from the New York Post, rolled their eyes at Hayes's antics.

Cutler's continued cross-examination addressed the specifics of the moral outrages he had addressed the day before. Corso had failed to pay federal income tax even as he cooperated with the FBI from 2002 to 2004. Exhibits were entered into evidence: Corso's resignation as a CPA, lawsuits started by Corso's defrauded clients, correspondence showing that Corso had contested the underlying wrong in stealing from his clients as recently as August 2004. Cutler turned to the last recorded conversation between Corso and Eppolito. It was from March 3, 2005, about a week before Caracappa and Eppolito were arrested in front of Piero's. Corso was trying to draw Guido Bravatti further into his web of deceit. Suddenly supposedly indifferent to the money offered through Corso, Eppolito tried to extricate his son from the drug dealing conspiracy he had insinuated the young man into in the first place.

"I got a panic call from my son," Eppolito said to Corso. "Don't call him or Guido anymore. They don't exist."

"Why?" Corso asked Eppolito.

"I told him not to," said Eppolito.

Cutler stopped reading from the transcript. "I ask you, Mr. Corso, isn't it a fact that Lou was upset about you meeting with his son?"

But there was no way to contest the fact that Eppolito had sent his son to deal drugs.

To present the human side of Caracappa, and the inhumane side of Corso, Eddie Hayes's junior counsel Rae Koshetz portrayed Corso as a man preying on an unsuspecting extended family. Koshetz suggested that Corso's expression of interest in Eppolito's youngest daughter was part of the deal. Corso begged to differ. "My impression was that if the deal went through, if the money came through, he would recommend me to his daughter."

Koshetz presented her client as an avuncular suburbanite entrapped by a conniving con man. Corso had only met Caracappa three times, she said, all of them only weeks before Caracappa was arrested. Corso agreed. Were the Hollywood stars coming to Las Vegas Corso's "concoction," she asked incredulously, contrived and executed by Corso without FBI connivance? The insinuation was that such a scenario was not only improbable but unbelievable. Corso testified that he alone had come up with the idea. Nothing Koshetz asked was directly exculpatory, or answered the taped evidence. Had the entire "designer drug" gambit been invented by Corso, she wanted to know. Corso blandly stated that it was.

"A motivated cooperator can be a very effective undercover," Oldham knew from many years' experience. "When I worked Born to Kill in the early nineties in the Major Case Squad, Tinh was full of ideas how to get Cow Pussy and the others. Once a cooperator gets inside the skin of a conspiracy -- inside 'the closeness,' as Caracappa called it -- he starts to sense the predilections and the possibilities. How far would Eppolito go? Would Caracappa get the jitters? As much as the FBI monitored their dealings, only Corso could see the faces and draw the inferences. Corso was highly motivated. Corso had presented Caracappa and Eppolito with choices. Scrub away all the psychobabble and conjecture about what lies in the heart of man, and what you are left with is the human truth that life is about making choices. Crime is about making choices. Sitting at dinner with Caracappa and Eppolito, Corso was adding items to the menu. They were the ones who ordered."

When Corso told Caracappa he had contacts who would be interested in having armed protection while in Las Vegas, Koshetz said, wasn't it true that Caracappa refused to take up the business. ''I'm not licensed," Caracappa said to Corso. "I don't have insurance." Corso protested that Caracappa suggested at least two illegal protection opportunities. Invisibly, incrementally, Koshetz was flirting with catastrophe.

On redirect, Henoch went directly for the jugular. In attempting to portray Caracappa as an upstanding and outstanding police officer and man, Koshetz had raised the question of his character. Henoch now questioned Corso about government allegations that Caracappa had made references to Corso about using drugs as an undercover narcotics agent in New York.

Before Corso could answer, Hayes leapt to his feet. "The question is only related to this drug deal," he said plaintively.

Henoch replied that Rae Koshetz had" opened the door" to character evidence. If the defense wished to elicit testimony that Caracappa did not use drugs, Henoch argued, it was only fair that the government have the opportunity to try to show that the opposite was the case. The jury was instructed to ignore the exchange, but they had heard every word.

GASPIPE'S LAST GASP

For years, Anthony Casso had been imprisoned in Supermax in Florence, Colorado, one hundred miles south of Denver. Constructed in the mid-nineties in response to the murder of two prison guards in Marion, Illinois, the thirty-seven-acre Supermax complex was built into the side of a mountain. The facility was a study in extreme punitive incarceration. Prisoners were housed in small soundproof cells with a concrete desk, bed, and stool. The thirteen-inch black-and-white television only played religious and anger-management programming. Prisoners were locked down twenty-three hours a day. Visitors, if permitted, had to come to the inmate's cell, denying even the slight satisfaction of a change in physical surroundings. Meals arrived through a slot in each cell door. The only rays of natural light to reach the inmates came in a tiny exercise area known as "the dog run." Casso's fellow inmates constituted a who's who of dangerous criminals, including the Unabomber, Theodore Kaczynski; Terry Nichols from the Oklahoma City bombing; and Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, leader of the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center. Surrounded by twelve-foot-high razor wire and monitored by countless motion detectors, pressure pads, and attack dogs, no one has ever escaped from Supermax. Remaining sane presents the primary challenge in an environment designed to grind down even the most determined prisoner.

In July 2005, a couple of months after the arrest of Caracappa and Eppolito in Las Vegas, a letter addressed to the United States Attorney for the Eastern District, Roslynn Mauskopf, had arrived in the mail. The two-page letter handwritten in a tidy script was from Gaspipe Casso. Stuck in Supermax, Casso was hoping to ingratiate himself with prosecutors and perhaps find a way to insert himself in the process of preparing for the trial of Stephen Caracappa and Louis Eppolito. If Casso were used by prosecutors, there was the chance he could strike a deal and receive a reduction in sentence, or at least an easing of the wretched isolation of solitary confinement in Supermax.

"I have nothing but the deepest respect for the work you are doing," Casso wrote. The letter recited his grievances against the government. But in the light of the coming trial of Caracappa and Eppolito, Casso had a proposal. "One would think at this critical point a truce would be declared for us to unite," Casso wrote. "If it's all for justice."

The Eastern District never replied to his letter.

By March 2006, as his chance to inject himself into the trial evaporated, Casso had changed his mind. The defense had been asked repeatedly if they were going to call Casso as a witness, even as the rumor had circulated in the courthouse that Casso had recanted his accusations against the "crystal ball." In the middle of the final week of the trial Casso dropped a bomb on the proceedings. A letter addressed to Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Feldman arrived, headed "Sworn Statement," and dated March 4, 2006. The author of the letter was Gaspipe Casso.

"I, Anthony Casso, hereby confess to have personally participated as part of a three man team that shot and killed Eddie Lino in Brooklyn's Gravesend section. Detectives Eppolito and Caracappa are falsely being accused of this crime."

The letter continued to state that Detectives Caracappa and Eppolito had never supplied confidential information to the Lucheses, or participated in the abduction of Jimmy Hydell. Written from the confines of Supermax, it represented a desperate last gasp. Casso wanted to appear useful to either the defense or prosecution -- to someone, anyone.

"Although, I do concede, that the Luchese family, has for decades, received confidential information, from other law enforcement officials, and New York, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, as well. This fact, should be documented, with the Justice Department, during my three and a half years of phenomenal, substantial assistance."

The defense submitted a motion for mistrial. To date, the trial had not gone well for the two former NYPD detectives. Any change in momentum, no matter how improbable, was preferable to watching prosecutors continue to build peaks on mountains of evidence already accumulated. In order for the defense to determine if calling Casso was advisable,

even at such a late hour, a telephone conference with Casso was arranged for lunch the following day, to be made from a conference room in the U.S. attorney's offices in Pierrepont Plaza. As lead counsel, Cutler and Hayes did not participate in the call. The two defense lawyers went to the Plaza Diner with a reporter from the New Yorker working on an article about the trial. There was little chance Casso would say anything of exculpatory value, Cutler and Hayes believed. Casso had suggested he would reveal the whereabouts of Jimmy Hydell's body in return for leniency -- a suggestion that repulsed Bruce Cutler. The two men sent their co-counsel, Rae Koshetz and Bettina Schein. Told that prosecutors were listening to the call, Casso asked for them to be excluded from the conversation. Prosecutors Feldman and Henoch left the room. Casso asked if the defense attorneys had been shown the letter he sent the government. They said they had.

"The prosecution is about to rest and the case will sum up on Monday," Schein said. "So the timing is propitious."

Casso said he had tried to contact Eddie Hayes a number of times before the trial began. He wrote to the government only after Hayes failed to respond to Casso's calls. Casso explained that he had been following the case through the news media. From the press, he had learned that Al D'Arco and Burt Kaplan had testified.

"I can't see how either attorney could honestly and wholeheartedly cross-examine them people without speaking to me first and learning the truth."

Casso did not dispute the general allegations against Caracappa and Eppolito. The role of the "crystal ball" in multiple murder counts went uncontradicted. He only took issue with two specific counts in the indictment.

"I would have given the defense lawyers the right questions to ask D'Arco on the stand," Casso said. "I proved to the government D'Arco is a liar over and over again. This is why I got the life sentence, not because I did something in the unit in Otisville or whatever the government claims were the reasons. This is why they kept me here and they keep the media away from me -- they keep everybody away from me. They don't allow nobody to see me."

Gaspipe Casso recounted a convoluted tale in which he purported to implicate not just Caracappa and Eppolito but also FBI agents and a third detective.

"There was a newspaper article that came out in the Post that claimed the information came from these two detectives," Schein said, referring to Eppolito and Caracappa.

"I didn't know where they got Eppolito's name and the other guy's name back in '94," Casso said. "But I found out where they got the names from when I was in Otisville. It was another government witness in Otisville. He is the one that brought up their names whenever the hell he got arrested."

"Who is that?" Koshetz asked.

"Fat Sa! Miciotta," Casso said. "When I met him in Otisville he started explaining to me how the agents had him trying to go after cops. They wired him up to get cops. This is how he was giving them names. But he was lying to them. He was lying to the feds. Wherever he got their names I don't know, but I heard he implicated not only them but other detectives too."

Reached at an undisclosed location, in a suburb of the city where he works in sales and service, Miciotta said he wasn't surprised that Casso would attempt to put him in the middle of the case. "How could I possibly concoct a story like that? What was in it for me? What ax did I have to grind? Was I in the Luchese family? I met Eppolito once, in Six-Two Precinct on Bath Avenue after I killed Larry Champagne Carrozza. Eppolito let me off on a murder. Eppolito was a guy who could be had. But that was all I knew about this.

"If you ask me, the government was never going to let Casso out. The prosecutors knew he was a serial killer, not a gangster. Casso thought he had the system played. He's a great manipulator. He was that way all of his life. He thought he was going to testify against Chin Gigante, do five years, and then go somewhere and set up shop again. He was recruiting guys to meet him when he got out. He was going to start his own little crime family someplace. Some unsuspecting town somewhere would become the marijuana and cocaine capital of the country.

"You spend time, enough time, in isolation like Supermax -- and I did five years of solitary after my dispute with Casso -- it changes who you are. Sitting in a cell by yourself is very lonely. Solitary has a huge psychological effect. You're in total despair 24/7. It's very depressing. It runs down your immune system. You start to suffer from physical illnesses. You feel claustrophobic. I've been out six years and I can still feel the effects. I take medication for anxiety. To have a guard come by and ask how you're doing was the highlight of the day -- to hear a human voice. There is a little flap on the door where they shove your tray of food through. They lock that, too. You don't control the lights. Half the time the sink didn't work, or the toilet was backed up. I wished for death all the time. I was suicidal but I had no way of doing it. Holding anyone like that, under those conditions, is inhumane. Even Casso. It leaves a man demented. Casso can't tell the difference between reality and the fantasy he lives in."

During the telephone conference call between Brooklyn and Supermax in Colorado, the subject of Miciotta was dropped without comment by Schein and Koshetz. They turned to the matter of Casso's relationship with Burt Kaplan. "I can tell you everything about Burton Kaplan," Casso said. "Burton Kaplan is saying on the stand what I want him to say on the stand. I was supposed to be part of this. Right after I got sentenced, I did an interview with 60 Minutes. I did the interview to make amends with the government, to show them I was on their side. I would testify against the cops."

Casso said he and Kaplan had dreamt up the entire story about Caracappa and Eppolito. They used their wives to carry messages providing details about the scheme. Casso's wife had a phobia about prisons but Casso ordered her to visit Kaplan and convince him to become a cooperator and frame two randomly selected NYPD officers. "When Kaplan flipped months later, after my wife seen him, he brought this story to the agents and they were tickled pink. Now they turn around, the agents, and they brought forward two guys in the 'witsec' unit who told Kaplan I went and hired these two guys to kill him. They put it in Kaplan's head that I had tried to kill him to get Kaplan to go against me. Now he wanted to go alone because they put the idea in his head. Jerry Capeci who writes that column put two names of guys who said I was going to kill Kaplan in one of his articles. I wrote to him that I was never looking to hurt Kaplan. This way they got Kaplan on their side one hundred percent and they can still take out their revenge against me and keep me in here. That's how it worked out."

"Would you testify to this if we called you as a witness?" Schein asked.

"Without a doubt," Casso said. "The government told my lawyer you don't want me as a witness because I'm accused of thirty-six murders. That is a farce, too. That is a number they made up."

"We have to get back to court now but certainly this information has been -- " Ms. Schein paused. "We appreciate you taking the time to call."

"I wish youse luck," Casso said.

Eppolito spoke for the first time. "Anthony, this is Lou Eppolito. Thank you very much."

The mistrial motion was denied. Calling Casso to testify for the defense had been an option open to Cutler and Hayes since the outset, Weinstein ruled. Casso's attempted intervention would not be allowed to throw the proceedings into disarray. The only conceivable benefit Casso could hope to receive for testifying would come from the government. Putting him on the stand offered the real possibility that he would contradict himself, yet again, and testify in detail about his dealings with the "crystal ball." The gamble had been too great for the government for more than a decade. Casso was too risky for the defense now. Calling an admitted "homicidal maniac" as witness for two self-styled distinguished and utterly innocent retired NYPD detectives was unlikely to prove exculpatory in the eyes of twelve citizens from the tough-minded streets of New York.

THE DEFENSE

In RICO cases often little if any defense is presented. It is common that no witnesses are called by the accused or exhibits entered into evidence. The defense consists of casting doubt on the prosecution. But in the lead-up to the trial the members of the defense team had said they would put on evidence to show that the government's accusations were nothing more than a product of lies invented by gangsters like Kaplan and Casso. For weeks Judge Weinstein had repeatedly asked the defense for a list of the witnesses they intended to call. No list had been furnished by Hayes or Cutler. On 60 Minutes before the trial Caracappa had claimed the defense would provide evidence that exonerated the two men. Caracappa said they would prove to the jury and the world that they could not have committed the crimes. Caracappa had spent months in Hayes's office meticulously going through dozens of boxes provided by the government as part of the discovery process. The defense was entitled to see every document produced or found during the course of the investigation, including any information that was exculpatory or contradictory. Eppolito had attended the research sessions on occasion but characteristically Caracappa had been the man in control of these activities.

The defense, it turned out, was practically nonexistent. Detective Les Shanahan had been Caracappa's partner in the OCHU. They were friends. Shanahan, like the few other former NYPD detectives who came to court each day and sat in the row behind Caracappa, had remained loyal to his old partner. "It was his nature," Oldham said. "Les was a great guy. I loved Les."

Called by Eddie Hayes, Detective Shanahan testified he had been working with Caracappa the night before Eddie Lino was murdered. He said that the two Major Case detectives had been assigned to act as a security detail for a radical Jewish leader named Meir Kahane, who was shot to death while speaking before the founding conference of a Zionist organization at a midtown hotel. He was pronounced dead at Bellevue Hospital on Manhattan's East Side, just above 26th Street. Caracappa and Shanahan wound up working his murder and pulled an all-nighter (as did Oldham, too, while working the same case). They had worked thirty-six hours straight. Both were exhausted. Like most NYPD cops, Shanahan lived in the suburbs. After they signed off duty that morning, he had to drive home. Detective Caracappa lived on East 22nd Street, a five-minute walk from the hospital. Or perhaps Shanahan had dropped him off; Caracappa didn't like driving and rarely drove himself. Hayes's line of questioning was meant to create an alibi for Caracappa. But Eddie Lino was not killed until that evening.

"Alibi evidence that left a seven-and-a-half-hour gap opportunity was no alibi evidence at all," Oldham said. "When Henoch asked Shanahan how long it would take to drive from Manhattan to the Belt Parkway, he didn't want to answer. Les said he didn't know if the ten miles or so could be driven in seven and a half hours. He didn't want to say that there was simply no way he could testify that Caracappa didn't have ample opportunity to have killed Eddie Lino. Caracappa could go home, have a five-hour nap, get up, shower, shave, meet up with Eppolito, and make it to Brooklyn in plenty of time. Les Shanahan standing up for his old friend in his hour of need was admirable, in many ways, but Shanahan wasn't going to lie for Caracappa."

"The defense of Stephen Caracappa rests," Eddie Hayes said.

Bruce Cutler rose somberly on behalf of Eppolito. A few days earlier, Eppolito had arrived in court carrying a battered moving box. Inside the box were plaques and ribbons and medals Eppolito had accumulated during his time on the NYPD. The box contained the sum of Eppolito's career on the force, and had formed the basis of his public persona. But to enter the awards into evidence would amount to leading character evidence and "open the door" to the prosecution putting in evidence about the ways that Eppolito had actually performed as a law officer. In a hearing without the jury present, Judge Weinstein had gone through the contents of the box deciding what would be admissible. Only a few of the medals and honors were permitted. The question of Mafia Cop had arisen. Cutler wanted the jury to see the entire dust jacket, with words on the back and on the inside flaps praising Eppolito as a heroic detective. Weinstein would not allow the ploy. If Eppolito wished the jury to see as evidence his book Mafia Cop, only the front of the dust jacket would be allowed. Thus the cover was snipped with a pair of scissors. The book that promised to be Eppolito's undoing was finally presented but the jury would only have the cover of the book to judge.

Cutler read out Eppolito's various awards to the jury. It took less than fifteen minutes. He called no witnesses. He ended by reading aloud the title of Eppolito's book. "Mafia Cop: The Story of an Honest Cop Whose Family Was the Mob," he said. "The defense rests."

THE JURY GETS THE CASE

A defense motion to dismiss the charges on the basis that the RICO counts were barred by the statute of limitations was turned down summarily by Judge Weinstein. "Denied in whole, as to all counts, as to both defendants," Weinstein said. There was a further motion to dismiss based on the late intervention of Anthony Casso and the defense's inability to call him as a witness because notice had been so short and so close to the end of the trial. Eddie Hayes was absent for the hearing, having traveled to California on another matter, a move that visibly annoyed Judge Weinstein. Weinstein asked Caracappa if he had consented to his attorney's absence, and if he accepted the attenuated representation Hayes's travel created. Caracappa nodded and said he had no problem with Hayes being away at that critical moment. Talking on the phone from his room in the Hotel Bel-Air, a five-star luxury boutique hotel in Los Angeles, Hayes argued that he would have conducted the defense differently had he known of Casso's letters to the prosecution. Hayes said he wanted to talk to Casso before deciding whether to call him as a witness.

''I'm not going to give Casso a trip to New York City unless you're going to call him," Weinstein said. Weinstein explained the perils of calling Casso to Caracappa, in order to forestall a later claim by Caracappa that he didn't understand the risks. Casso might change his mind on the stand and try to curry favor with the prosecution, Weinstein said. The only benefit Casso could receive would be from the government, Weinstein said. Arrangements were made for Hayes to have a telephone conference with Casso. On the following Monday, Hayes informed the court the defense would not call Casso as a witness. The letters Casso had written were not admissible, the judge ruled, because they were rank hearsay. The second motion to dismiss was denied. The case would go to the jury.

Summations were spread over two days. The prosecution went first. The third member of Henoch's team, Daniel Wenner, spoke for the government. His presentation was dull but comprehensive as he went over the legal aspects of the case the jury needed to consider. The statute of limitations had been satisfied, he said, by the ongoing pattern of racketeering acts of Caracappa and Eppolito. The defendants had not withdrawn from the conspiracy, by renouncing their involvement or ceasing to associate with their co-conspirators, but had continued it by trying to conceal the conspiracy. Wenner went through the different counts in detail. He pointed out that Caracappa had taken a day off on the date Israel Greenwald disappeared in 1986, explaining that Caracappa was a newlywed and it was just before Valentine's Day so the money would have come in handy. As Wenner marched through the facts, Eppolito gave his head tiny shakes in disagreement, while Caracappa continued to stare stolidly ahead. Hayes rested his head on the defense table, while Cutler had his face buried in his hands.

Speaking for Caracappa, Hayes began, eyes afire with passion. "What evil fate put this man in this chair?" he asked the jury, gesturing toward his client. "It was evil that put him in that chair. Not good. Evil." Hayes appeared to be on the verge of tears. He said Caracappa had led a good life. He had no vices, no infidelities. He had no motive to become a criminal. "Steve Caracappa risked his life one hundred thousand times for you," he told the jury. The entire prosecution was a Washington, D.C.-inspired plot to frame two NYPD detectives. "In all of history, this case had the best investigators working on it," Hayes claimed. "How many times have we seen things happen behind the scenes in Washington, D.C., that put good men and good women at risk?"

Peppering the jury with questions and assertions, Hayes said Burton Kaplan had lied about the ownership of the house Casso's family lived in in Mill Basin in order to collect the $900,000 the property was worth. Kaplan dealt in blood diamonds from a poor African country, "holding the people in poverty and despair." Hayes pointed to Kaplan's attempt to deal heroin, the "smelly" nature of the relationship between Kaplan and Judd Burstein, and the improbability of a detective of Caracappa's pedigree making a mistake as elementary as searching for the wrong Nicky Guido. "We know that Stephen Caracappa is a good person, an exceptional person, an exemplary person."

Nearly a month into the trial, April's warm weather had arrived in New York City. Bruce Cutler wore a blue suit with a powder blue pocket puff and expensive loafers as he stood to address the jury. Manila folders were neatly lined up on the table. Cutler was in a state of deep concentration as he began. "My mentors -- the people that Judd Burstein walked away from -- considered court a temple of justice," he said. Cutler read the jury different definitions of justice. He then defined spring as a season of hope. He defined hope as "the desire or search for a future good." Cutler continued, "I have a hope in this case that there will be a day -- a turning point, if you will -- when the likes of D'Arco, Casso, Kaplan, Corso, and Franzone will not be allowed into a court of law. Criminal lawyers will rise and be considered a kind of nobility because of their commitment to justice."

The timid grave digger of Israel Greenwald, Peter Franzone, in particular, had raised the ire of Cutler. He was a cretin, Cutler said, a lowlife and a liar. "I looked up the definition of Franzone in the dictionary, where I start all my work," Cutler said. "I didn't look up his name but I looked up gnome. G-N-O-M-E." Franzone was "one of a race of dwarflike creatures who live underground and guard treasure hoards." Real detectives would have charged Franzone with murder, Cutler said, not given him a pass so he could flash his "pearly whites" on the witness stand. "The whole portrayal was a fake, a canard." Franzone had no reason to be afraid of Eppolito. Cutler said that Eppolito's photographs were on the walls of Chinese and Italian restaurants in the Six-Three. "Everyone knew Lou because of his service and his efforts," Cutler said, explaining why Franzone would single out his client. All the cooperators in the case were inherently evil, bereft of life, villains. "They're not reliable," Cutler said. "They're not dependable. They're only out for themselves. Even their lies are not honest."

Fond of asides, Cutler told the jury that he had lost fourteen and a half pounds during the trial, lying awake at night thinking about the case. He said his father had once taken him to the film Bridge on the River Kwai, a World War II prisoner-of-war classic set in Burma. The bridge in the movie, Cutler told the jurors, was built on a base of mud, not solid rock. "Burton Kaplan is the bridge in this case from Casso to us," he said. "If you build a bridge on mud, the first train that comes along will bring the bridge down."

Before and during the trial, the question of how to deal with the relationship between Kaplan and Caracappa and Eppolito had haunted the defense. How to explain NYPD detectives dealing with a known OC figure like Kaplan? Once it was admitted that the two defendants were friendly with him, it became difficult to deflect the criminal aspects of their interactions. Henoch had made it impossible, as he had hoped, for Eppolito to deny outright any knowledge of Kaplan. Caracappa could maintain that facade, and Hayes had ignored the matter during his summation. The proof of the financial transactions in Las Vegas compelled Eppolito and Cutler to concede the point and give the jury some explanation. First, Cutler allowed that Kaplan had lent Eppolito money. Cutler said Kaplan lived a double, triple, or quadruple life. "Burt Kaplan had a veneer of legitimacy. Policemen got friendly with him. Lou didn't see the other side. Lou didn't know the other side. The money Kaplan gave to Lou wasn't stamped as marijuana money. The money was given to Lou in appreciation for who Lou Eppolito is. Kaplan extended money for a time-share and a house in Nevada."

Cutler turned to the testimony given by Steven Corso. "He sauntered into court in a fancy suit with a tan and looking like he didn't have a care in the world," Cutler said. "He didn't misappropriate funds. He stole money. He had a rapacious greed, a lack of honor, dignity, and care." The jury leaned back in their seats as Cutler implored them to aim for a larger sense of good in the "temple of justice." "The federal government sent Corso to casinos and strip clubs to meet fakes, phonies, and idiots, who tell him things like they're the boss of Las Vegas," Cutler said. "There is no boss of Las Vegas." The city was the world of grand illusion, Cutler said. Corso was "a coyote in Central Park eating the chicks. He was a thieving, lowliving scurvy. Lou was no match." Eppolito had set himself up as a writer. He talked gangster to Corso as a form of writing, creating the illusion that he was a gangster who knew "Donut Joe" and "Pastrami Benny."

"Lou had no intent to violate any laws," Cutler said. "He had no intent to launder any money. Lou said to Corso, 'I'm not afraid to die.' And then came the final dagger. DEA agent Ken Luzak, at the arrest, said to Lou, 'It's been a long time coming.' Lou supposedly said, 'I know.''' Cutler paused before the jury box. He bent his head, choking back tears, and he began to speak in the first person as if he were Louis Eppolito talking directly to the twelve men and women who would decide his fate. "I know what the life of my father was like," Cutler-as-Eppolito sobbed. "I know what the life of my uncle was like. I know what my life was like. I know you've been after me. Come, and take me!" Cutler put his hands out, as if to be placed in handcuffs. Snapping out of his trance, Cutler returned to his own voice.

"He's in your hands," he said to the jury.

During an intermission, Jimmy Breslin admired Cutler's performance, even as he doubted its effectiveness. "I've seen it before," Breslin said. "Bruce is good, God bless him. I've seen him defend John Gotti like he was Saint Peter."

Henoch had the final word. He clearly relished the opportunity. "If you're a cop you can't associate with known criminals," Henoch said. "You have to report it." Hayes and Cutler were two of the best-known defense attorneys in the country, he said, but they can't explain the truth that lies in the details of the case. "If you make a great speech, but you don't talk about details, something is wrong," Henoch said. He offered eleven examples of evidence that couldn't be refuted, from Kaplan's knowledge of Eppolito's huge knife collection in Las Vegas to Tommy Galpine's trip to the Caribbean coinciding with Eppolito's purchase of a time-share. Every time the investigation went deeper into the facts, more detailed corroboration emerged. Cross-examination had revealed nothing the jury didn't know. The mystery of the motive of Caracappa and Eppolito was simple, Henoch said. The pair made a total of $375,000 from Casso -- "that we know of." They were bound together in their "closeness," or "this thing of ours." If Stephen Caracappa was an exceptional person, Henoch asked, then why was not a single character witness called by the defense? Hayes objected. Weinstein overruled him: summation was argument and lawyers had broad discretion to argue as they pleased. "Truth is not always pretty, but it's always perfect," Henoch told the jury. "The truth is perfect and it's beautiful."

There was no government conspiracy, Henoch said, or else why wouldn't Mitra Hormozi simply urge a witness to lie and fabricate? Franzone didn't come forward as part of a huge mob conspiracy. The government found him. As for the charge that the government was trolling for Eppolito and Caracappa in Las Vegas, the pair had found Corso, not the other way around. "What would a hero cop say when Steven Corso throws drugs out there?" Henoch asked the jury. "What would you say? These men jumped right into the drug deal and they aided and abetted it. They set it up. The government didn't go after Tony Eppolito. Caracappa and Eppolito insulated themselves. Eppolito got his son to get the drugs because he wouldn't touch them himself."

Henoch turned to the statute of limitations question. The legal question represented a danger for the prosecution, if the jury decided as a matter of fact that the crimes from the eighties and early nineties were too remote in time from the Las Vegas charges from 2004 and 2005. "We gave Caracappa and Eppolito an out," Henoch said. "They could have walked away from Corso. That would be evidence of withdrawal. But there is no evidence of withdrawal-not a smidgen. They said to Corso, 'We bring you into our family, our closeness, and we don't want to get hurt.'"

THE VERDICT

The jury retired to a small room in the back of Judge Weinstein's chambers on the fourth floor. On the first day, the jury asked for access to evidence. Speculation about the significance of this was rife in the hallway, where attorneys and reporters and family members of the victims and accused stood in small packs mostly observing a funereal silence. Eddie Hayes said he was optimistic, even though he said everyone else seemed to think "the cops" were going down hard and fast.

On the second day, the jury asked for further read-backs of evidence. Eppolito's daughter Deanna worried her rosary beads. Eddie Hayes was carrying a book titled God in Search of Man by Abraham Joshua Heschel, a history of Judaism he had borrowed from Henoch. Caracappa paged through the book and ate fruit-flavored LifeSavers.

On April 6, just after lunch, word spread that the jury had reached a verdict. The court was packed to overflowing as the twelve jurors entered, none of them meeting the gaze of Caracappa or Eppolito. It took nearly half an hour for the entirety of the charged crimes to be put to the jury and for the jury to give its verdict. On all counts, for both defendants, the result was the same. "Guilty," "guilty," "guilty," the word was repeated by the forewoman of the jury in a calm and even voice.

After the first "guilty," the U.S. marshals assigned to the court blocked the exits. At the end Caracappa and Eppolito both stood. The men took off their belts and ties and emptied their pockets on the defense table. Eyes welling with tears, Hayes embraced Caracappa, whose face was drained of color and whose hands were shaking. Eppolito turned forlornly to his family. The air of confusion he had the first day he was arraigned returned to his face, now accompanied by a look of real fear.

After the verdict, Eddie Hayes told reporters that Caracappa had told him everything would be all right. "'You did the best you could,' he told me," Hayes said. "So that's it." Deanna Eppolito was defiant, declaring that her father was innocent. Lou Eppolito Jr. had appeared increasingly sad as the trial proceeded and the evidence continued to mount. "I will be there for my father," he told reporters. "I love him." Israel Greenwald's daughters, Yael and Michal, stopped in the corridor of the fourth floor outside the court to talk to reporters. "We are grateful that justice has been done," Michal said through tears. "This is closure for us."

When the verdict was announced, Oldham didn't feel triumphant. He'd put a lot of men away on life sentences and was all too aware that his life's work amounted to men waiting to die in prison. Now it appeared Eppolito and Caracappa would join them.

"I felt no victory, no gladness, no happiness. I like the hunt, but not the kill."
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Re: The Brotherhoods: The True Story of Two Cops Who Murdere

Postby admin » Wed Jun 18, 2014 2:28 am

PART 1 OF 2

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN: THE RULE OF LAW

On June 5, 2006, the sentencing hearing for Caracappa and Eppolito was held in Judge Weinstein's court. [1] Before sentencing, relatives of their victims presented statements. Leah Greenwald went first. Israel Greenwald's wife described the devastation Caracappa and Eppolito had inflicted on their lives. "What happened to us was like a chain reaction," she said. "Husband and father missing, confusion and chaos, emotional stress, weakness, pain, nightmares, feelings of abandonment, loss of income, hard labor, loss of time, loss of joy, pain, pain, and pain." Her husband was only thirty-four when he vanished, she said, leaving his wife and their eight- and ten-year-old daughters with no explanation for his disappearance. Thrown into poverty, the Greenwalds had lived in a series of apartments in Brooklyn, one only two blocks away from Israel Greenwald's unmarked grave on Nostrand Avenue. "My daughters wanted to know why I wasn't doing more to find their beloved father," she said. Michal Greenwald, the elder daughter, now a beautiful young woman, recounted the deprivation of life without a father. "For thirty thousand dollars?" she asked Caracappa and Eppolito. "Is that what his life was worth?" The Greenwalds had been enveloped by pity and fear, she said. "You thought you could get away with it and you almost did. You made sure this story would stay hidden and forgotten. And it was. But you underestimated the power of a child's innocent prayer."

The two former detectives looked directly and intently at Michal Greenwald, as if to drink in her sorrow and anger, not as a sign of remorse but as part of their continuing performance as honest officers of the law now wrongfully convicted. Caracappa appeared toughened by his time in prison, and remained silent. Eppolito had grown a goatee -- facial hair Cutler had instructed him to shave off before trial.

The final gathering of the people whose lives had been caught in the destructive force of Caracappa and Eppolito was both melancholy and angry. The grief of the victims' families and the denials of Caracappa and Eppolito created palpable hostility in the courtroom. Danielle Lino, the twenty-eight-year-old daughter of Eddie Lino, dressed entirely in black. Betty Hydell, led through the back of the building to avoid the photographers in front of the courthouse, was wearing large black sunglasses to hide her eyes as she quietly wept. On the left side of the court, reserved for law enforcement, sat Joe Ponzi and Bobby Intartaglio. Oldham was in the public gallery, in the back row sitting by himself, eyes wet.

"When I came to the Major Case Squad I wanted to work for victims, not drug dealers ripped off by police impersonators," Oldham recalled. "I had no idea I would be chasing down cops preying on the people they were paid to protect. The families had a right to be angry -- law enforcement betrayed them. The criminal justice system had been perverted. In the end, we got Caracappa and Eppolito, police impersonators who were true policemen. The system succeeded, despite itself."

The defense had submitted letters imploring the judge to overturn the jury's verdict, a prospect that seemed extremely unlikely. A Nevada couple, a doctor and nurse who were acquaintances of the Caracappas and Eppolitos in Las Vegas, wrote to Judge Weinstein to express shock and dismay. "Stephen was an extremely decent friend and neighbor and avid race-walker, bike racer, and sometimes weightlifter," the letter said. "Hardly a habitue of the Las Vegas nightlife, he was usually to be seen only when he was exercising or socializing in the small compound where we all lived. " A letter from an NYPD officer was entered into the record registering his desire to see the conviction reversed. "I know firsthand the elements that are needed to be pieced together before taking a man's freedom," the officer wrote. "When I am interviewing an alleged victim I look for facts, I look for evidence, I look for witnesses."

Eppolito's younger daughter, Deanna, wrote to beg Weinstein to let her father return home. "My father is the most hardworking, dedicated man to his family and friends that God ever put on earth," she wrote. "Anyone who walks the beat in NYC knows the legend of Louis Eppolito -- the cop and detective." Finally, predictably, the ever desperate Gaspipe Casso wrote in support of his former collaborators, declaring the verdict to be based on "misleading evidence" and "purely mistaken identities by government witnesses." Casso quickly turned to the true subject of his mercy plea: Gaspipe Casso. "Your Honor, I can assure you that I am in no way the monstrous person the government had their witnesses portray me to be."

Since the arrest, Oldham had speculated that Eppolito was likely to flip and turn on Caracappa. Cooperating would provide Eppolito no personal benefit. Confessing would mean he would spend the rest of his life in prison, disgraced as a policeman and as a man. He would no longer be his daughter's "hero." "But Eppolito might be able to save his son's life. Tony Eppolito was a young man with no criminal history. Judging from the evidence on the surveillance tapes in Las Vegas, the son's motivation in making the drug deal was to please his father. Like so many sons, the younger Eppolito had been caught up in the self-serving fantasies of his father. I figured Eppolito would spare his son the wages of his own sins. I know I would have. Tony Eppolito would soon face trial on federal charges of selling narcotics. His father was determined to clear his name, no matter how hopeless the cause or the price to be paid by his son."

EXIT BRUCE AND FAST EDDIE

Within weeks of his conviction, Eppolito fired Bruce Cutler and claimed his representation had been incompetent. The willingness to turn on others that had made Kaplan nervous about relying on Eppolito emerged as his plight became truly hopeless. To the surprise of many, Caracappa soon followed suit. Statements made during the trial about their enduring faith in the two famous defense attorneys now became accusation and character assassination. Claiming ineffective assistance of counsel was a common tactic for convicts who had run out of options -- Kaplan himself had launched the same proceeding against Judd Burstein and others who defended him in the marijuana case.

Eppolito was now represented by an attorney named Joseph Bondy, whose specialty was getting lesser sentences for convicted defendants. Federal sentencing guidelines were voluminous, prescribing the mitigating and exacerbating factors to be considered by a judge when imposing punishment. Bondy marketed himself as an expert at constructing the life story of an accused in order to best impress the judge that the convict was the victim of a difficult childhood, mental illness, or substance addiction. Bondy called himself a "humanizer." The child of mild-mannered Bronx schoolteachers, Bondy had aspired to be a mob lawyer since early in life. For a time, he had even rented the same small corner office in a building on Broadway opposite City Hall that Bruce Cutler had once occupied. Bondy was still relatively unknown, and Eppolito was by far the highest-profile client he had ever taken on.

At the sentencing hearing, Bondy would not have the chance to tell the tale of a repentant Louis Eppolito, raised by an abusive and murderous father; Eppolito had displayed no regret for his crimes. The entire case, Eppolito maintained, was a concoction by Gaspipe Casso and Burton Kaplan. The crimes his client was convicted of couldn't be worse, Bondy admitted to Judge Weinstein. Bondy then said that Judge Weinstein himself had expressed skepticism about the strength of the government's case.

"Your Honor has pointed out that this was a thin case, with barely enough evidence to go to a jury," Bondy said.

Weinstein interrupted Bondy. "No," he said, curtly. "The only issue from the outset was with respect to the statute of limitations. There has been no doubt and there is no doubt that the murders and other crimes were proven beyond a reasonable doubt. That has never been an issue."

Bondy was taken aback. Confusion about the substance of the accusations and the legal questions about the statute of limitations had plagued the trial from the onset. Weinstein had finally clarified the matter from the bench. Guilt had been determined, decisively and overwhelmingly, leaving only the legal question of RICO statutory limitations.

"Does the defendant wish to make a statement?" the judge asked Eppolito.

"Yes, sir," Eppolito said.

The press was seated in the jury box. After trial, jury charge, and finally conviction, the only audience left for Eppolito to attempt to convince was the court of public opinion -- and that meant the media. Sitting in the two rows of leather swivel seats used by the jury during the trial, reporters from the major dailies, news radio, and local television channels listened as Eppolito began his appeal. He spoke in the present tense, as if he were still a member of the NYPD.

"I have been a police officer for twenty two and a half years," Eppolito said. "I know the feelings that every single family had here today. I handled as a detective many, many homicides and I know how they feel from inside their guts. Sometimes I'm the one that goes to the house and knocks on the door and tells them there has been a death in the family." Eppolito paused. He looked around the court, arms outstretched pleadingly. "I don't know what I'm allowed to do or what I'm allowed to say. Of course, it comes from my heart. I would invite the Greenwalds, the Linos, the Hydells to come and visit me in jail, let me tell them the story. I was not allowed to do that. I had no opportunity to do that."

"I don't want to hear that," Weinstein warned angrily.

"If I was afforded the opportunity to talk to these families, if it was okay, if they wanted to sit with me and ask me and I could prove to them, I think I would prove to them I didn't hurt anybody ever. My first seventeen years as a police officer I went to work with broken fingers, broken hands, stab wounds. I never missed a day's work. It is when I had my first heart attack I couldn't work. After I had my heart attack I started writing and I could find out I was able to write and tell a story."

In the gallery, a man rose. Barry Gibbs was wearing dark sunglasses, a Hawaiian shirt, and a turquoise necklace.

"Remember me?" Gibbs shouted. "Remember, Mr. Eppolito?"

Eppolito and everyone in the court turned to Gibbs.

"Remove him," Weinstein ordered the marshals.

"You framed me!" Gibbs yelled. "Do you remember what you did to me? Barry Gibbs! Do you remember? I had a family, too. You remember what you did to my family? You don't remember what you did to my family and to me? Remember what you did to me? Me! Do you remember?"

Gibbs was led out of the court by marshals. Eppolito addressed the gallery, as if he was before a theatrical audience. "As far as Mr. Gibbs was concerned, he also was afforded the same opportunity I was and he went before a jury and he had a very good attorney who fought for him."

In Mafia Cop, Eppolito wrote of clandestine meetings with mobsters. He wrote of socializing with organized crime figures, in deliberate and flagrant disregard of NYPD rules. For years he admired the values of organized crime, praising the mafia on national television. In court he now claimed such events had never occurred, and that he had never held such views. Where was a photograph of Eppolito in a social club or bar? he asked. Where were the phone taps? Explanations for Eppolito's conviction tumbled out. The entire case had been constructed on a false premise, he said, based on a frame concocted by Kaplan and Casso. Once investigators had decided the guilt of Caracappa and Eppolito, facts had been forced to fit the theory. "When they lock on to something, like I did as a detective, it stays there. Selectively they said what they want. It was selective and I'll prove it to the court on a later date," he claimed.

Eppolito continued, "I worked hard, I had three children, married to the same lady all these years. I never ever, ever did anything ever that I would have to embarrass my children. Yet in the last two years, when this all broke, I was willing to go to the government, sit there and have them ask me any questions they could. I was willing to take my polygraph test. I took the so-called DNA test. Anything that was asked of me I did. I just was not able to sit down and present a case because I found it was so flawed to me. I was a detective, I wasn't a guy who worked on a truck, I know how these things are. I worked cases with the government. I worked cases with the state. I worked cases with the city. I have been before judges and I have said to them there is no reason for me to lie.

"I didn't need $30,000 to harm Mr. Greenwald. I never heard Mr. Greenwald's name in my life. When they mentioned it when we were incarcerated in Las Vegas, I said, 'I never heard of a person like that, I never heard of the human being, I never heard of these times.' They said, 'Oh, you spoke to this guy.' I never had access to them. I never had access to files or who it was. When I heard this I said to people, 'This is coming down on me because of who I am, who I was, not because of what I've done.' I've always maintained my honesty, my integrity. I tried so hard. But I said to the government show me a piece of paper, a picture of me in a bar, in a club. Where did I meet an organized crime figure? Where was my phone? My phone was open, I was in the phone book.

"I have a family. I would feel the same way these people do. I could feel the hate and the sorrow. Your Honor, I've always felt that's why I became a cop. I had to live down my father. My father was a member of the Gambino crime family. I was already crucified with the name before I had an opportunity. I turned my back on organized crime so much, I just turned my back on it. I had no respect for them. I had no liking for them. I turned down every opportunity to speak to me. I was never associated or around them. The one thing that I was so proud of as a human being, whether it is in jail or home or whether it is anywhere -- the one thing that I have to go to my grave with -- is I was one hell of a cop.

"I've always maintained my honesty, my integrity," Eppolito continued, his voice increasing in urgency. "I tried so hard. I apologize for having to speak for the first time until all this happened. I can hold my head up high. I never done any of this. To Mrs. Hydell, Otto Heidel's daughter, Mrs. Lino, and Mrs. Greenwald, please call the judge. If I can't convince you I'm innocent, I will apologize. I didn't do any of these crimes at all."

Eppolito sat before a silent courtroom.

Weinstein asked Caracappa if he had anything to say to the court. Caracappa half stood.

"My lawyer will speak for me," he said, sitting again.

Daniel Nobel, the attorney appointed by the court to represent Caracappa, noted that no one from Caracappa's family was present. "Your Honor, there are no members of his family here today, not because they don't want to be, but because they could accurately anticipate the atmosphere of the courtroom today."

Nobel referred to the letters submitted by Caracappa to the court. "Members of the family and individuals who have known Mr. Caracappa over the last fifteen years expressed the same thing, Your Honor," Nobel said. "They knew this man well, they knew him in varying circumstances over a long period of time. They knew him in a way that the kind of secrets that have been alluded to here just could not have been."

Prosecutor Robert Henoch then addressed the court. "The government's position is that a sentence of life imprisonment is the only sentence that will satisfy the statutory objectives of sentencing under the United States Code," he said. "In this case, Your Honor, it is the only sentence that will serve justice and it is our position that it is the correct sentence and it is the sentence we're asking Your Honor to impose." Henoch continued, "Caracappa and Eppolito are unremorseful and unrepentant. An overwhelming case was amassed by the investigators."

Judge Weinstein needed no time to reach his conclusion. He issued a sentence of life in prison. In addition, the government would be entitled to seize $1 million in assets, effectively bankrupting Caracappa and Eppolito. "It's hard to visualize a more heinous offense," Judge Weinstein said. "The characteristics of the defendants are revealed by the nature of their crimes. A heavy sentence is required to promote respect for the law and to deter the conduct of people in a like position. It is needed to deter conduct of the defendants as late as 2005 and 2006. It is necessary to protect the public from further crime by these defendants. No crime has come before this court with a similar severity."

There was one catch. Imposition of the sentence would have to await the outcome of the motion to overturn the conviction based on the statute of limitations and the alleged incompetency of Bruce Cutler and Eddie Hayes. A hearing on the matter was scheduled for June. Caracappa and Eppolito would remain in custody until the motion had been decided.

LOUIE'S DAY IN COURT

No longer representing their former clients but themselves, Eddie Hayes and Bruce Cutler reacted with outrage to the accusations. "I showed him what kind of man I am, and he showed me what kind of man he is," Hayes said in an interview in his midtown office. Hayes had taken the case because he thought it would be easy to win -- the evidence appeared flimsy and the conspiracy improbable. But then he had encountered the phenomenon of Burton Kaplan on the witness stand -- followed by the onslaught of evidence gathered by the cadre. "You can fight through a certain amount of evidence, but after a while it becomes impossible," Hayes said. "The weight is too great. Steve taking a day off when Israel Greenwald was killed, the phone numbers of Steve and Louie in Kaplan's phone book, after all the facts pile up you can't convince a jury that the whole thing is unreliable." Hayes took consolation in the fact that the New York Times had quoted a juror saying Hayes's performance in court had been "extraordinary."

"To accuse a fighter of walking away from a fight, that is what is so insulting," Cutler told the Washington Post. "This is the most offensive thing that has ever happened to me in my life." Bondy was a "guttersnipe lawyer," Cutler said, and Eppolito just another convict looking for someone to blame. "Desperate men make desperate allegations in desperate times," Cutler said to the New York papers.

The competency hearing was held in early June. In the slow-motion train wreck that the case had become, Bondy's brief seemed little more than a forlorn footnote. Assisted by his own young female blond aide-decamp attorney, Bondy would not be denied his moment in the spotlight, even if it meant ridiculing his former role model, Bruce Cutler, and disregarding the basic civilities of the fraternity of the criminal bar. "Defense counsel spent the majority of Mr. Eppolito's closing argument speaking about himself, including the fact that he lost over fourteen pounds during the trial, loved Brooklyn as a borough of bridges and churches, and was an admirer of the great Indian Chief Crazy Horse." Bondy's lengthy legal memorandum portrayed a dysfunctional relationship between Cutler and his client. "Counsel consistently refused to read Mr. Eppolito's notes, listen to his comments, or otherwise allow him to participate meaningfully in his own defense." Cutler had also failed to interview Casso or call him as a witness.

Bondy had the opportunity to put Eppolito's desperate revisionist theories before the court. He then called his only witness.

"Louis Eppolito calls Louis Eppolito," Bondy declared.

Eppolito took the stand, dressed in a suit and tie, a convicted murderer swearing to tell the truth upon pain of perjury charges -- small disincentive given his pending life sentence. From the witness stand, Eppolito described how he had learned of the allegations made by Casso and had come to engage Bruce Cutler. In March 1994, he testified, his co-author for Mafia Cop, journalist Bob Drury, had called him to ask if he would be willing to talk to mob reporter Jerry Capeci.

"I said yes," Eppolito said. "Jerry got on the phone and asked me if I ever heard of or knew a person named Anthony Casso. I told him I heard the name but I don't know him, I never met him. He says, 'Would you be surprised if I told you that he was a member of the Luchese crime family, he was now testifying on the government's behalf, and he had mentioned that you were a killer of Eddie Lino?' I thought it was a joke. I says, 'You're kidding me, right?' He says, 'No.' I says, 'I don't even know who Eddie Lino is, I never met the man, I don't know who he is.' He says, 'Did you do that killing with Steve Caracappa?' I says, 'Steve?' I says, 'That's insane.' Steve and I didn't even work together, we have not worked together, at that time, since 1979."

Eppolito testified that he hung up and made two calls. First he called Caracappa. Next he called Bruce Cutler. Eppolito had known Cutler since the mid-seventies, when Cutler was a prosecutor for the Brooklyn DA. Despite the tabloid headlines in 1994, Cutler had managed to assist Eppolito in avoiding any criminal charges in the matter for more than a decade -- a fact omitted in Bondy's questioning. After Eppolito was arrested in front of Piero's in Las Vegas, he had engaged Cutler once again -- telling his wife Cutler was "the only man who could save me." When the two men met at the MDC in New York City to plan Eppolito's defense, Cutler began to question his client about specific facts, asking particularly if he knew Burton Kaplan. "I knew the man," Eppolito testified. "I knew him and I had a relationship with him. I would buy my clothes from him. I says, 'What does Burt Kaplan have to do with this case?' He says, 'He's one of the main witnesses against you.' I says, 'This is nonsense. I know the man. I buy my clothes from him.' I says, 'Bruce, I got to take the stand.' I says, 'I see what's going on here, I know what's going on now.'"

Developing the defense before trial, Cutler told Eppolito he would have him testify, if it seemed necessary, but he had in mind another approach. Cutler told Eppolito that there was a good chance of success because of RICO's time limitations. The suggestion upset Eppolito, he testified. "I have to apologize the way I say it, but I said to Mr. Cutler, 'I don't give a damn about the statute of limitations. They're telling me that I killed people, that I kidnapped people. I never did any of that. I want to clear myself from every single charge here. I'm not just worried about getting off on some legal technicalities.'''

Eppolito testified that Cutler refused to let him testify, under the threat of no longer representing him. Eppolito said he was terrified Cutler would quit if he demanded to take the stand. When the defense was called to present its list of witnesses, Eppolito claimed he had physically expressed his exasperation at not being able to give evidence. "I had my two hands and I hit the table and I says, 'I'm not going to allow this to happen. I have people who I wanted to testify for me and I want to take that stand. I'm the only one that could tell the truth about what is being told about me.'''

"What was the response of Mr. Cutler at that time?" Bondy asked.

"'You're not, you're not taking that stand,''' Eppolito said. "He gave me a story. He says to me, 'They can ask you any questions they want.' I says, 'I don't care what they ask me, I don't care where they go, I don't care what they say.'"

Eppolito said he was convinced that if he testified he could have countered the prosecution's evidence. Why then, with his life on the line, did he not demand to testify?

"I was afraid," Eppolito said.

"Afraid of what?" Bondy asked.

"I was afraid of the judge."

During the trial, Eppolito had repeatedly boasted to reporters that nothing and no one had ever scared him. Now Eppolito claimed he would rather face conviction on multiple racketeering murder counts than risk raising the ire of an eighty-four-year-old judge. Eppolito explained that his fear stemmed from the day that he had been late for court because he had been trapped in traffic. "When I got in, I had run the block and I was nervous and sweaty, and the judge said, 'Marshal, arrest him. His bail is revoked.' At that time I was -- I was scared. I didn't want to attempt to ask the judge, and I didn't know what to do."

"Eppolito kept stammering apologies to the judge while he testified," Oldham recalled. "He couldn't look at Weinstein. Even when he was saying he was sorry he couldn't look at him. It was clear to me that much of what he said in his book about his father beating him had a huge impact on Louis. He beat people down as a cop, but he was fearful of authority. He wanted to be someone in authority -- and when he was, he abused that authority. Shit rolls downhill. Eppolito had choices in life, as does everyone, but Fat the Gangster left lasting scars on him. He was the playground bully caught out. He was plainly petrified -- and I don't blame him for that. But it was like none of what had happened had actually happened. It was intensely depressing. Eppolito had to know what he had done.

"Caracappa by contrast didn't say anything. He didn't look at Eppolito, the judge, or the gallery. Caracappa wasn't going to ruin his chances for a retrial by taking the stand. Everything Eppolito said on the stand could be used against him if there was another trial. Eppolito was just hammering one last nail into his own coffin. Caracappa was no such fool. Caracappa wasn't going to create a record of lying under oath. If Eppolito went far enough, there was the chance that Caracappa could move to demand a separate trial to avoid being tainted by prejudicial and inflammatory statements made by Eppolito. To the bitter end, when he had been tried, convicted, and sentenced, Caracappa stayed quiet and played the system. Letting Eppolito hang himself might work to Caracappa's advantage."

As Eppolito's explanations grew less believable, so did his attacks on Cutler's judgment. Eppolito testified that Cutler had not allowed him to participate in creating his own defense. At lunch at the Plaza Diner during the trial, Eppolito said, Cutler refused to talk to him, saying that he prepared for court by remaining focused. Eppolito said he wanted to call Casso as a witness after his last-ditch attempted intervention in the trial, against the advice of Cutler. "All of a sudden there's a letter saying we didn't do it," Eppolito claimed, incorrectly, of Casso's letter. "Well, is this man psychotic only when the government says he's a psychotic, or is he crazy all the time? For three years he says I did it, now he says I didn't. Bring him on the stand and let him tell the story. If he's a liar, he's a liar. I'm not afraid of what he was going to say. I was never afraid of anybody in my life. I'm not afraid of being confronted. Just because you say it don't mean it's the truth."

On cross-examination, Henoch mowed down Eppolito's proclamations. Eppolito had spent twelve years as a detective in Bensonhurst and Flatbush, but he claimed to have no knowledge of the location of the parking lot on Nostrand Avenue, or to have ever kept a car there, or to have met Peter Franzone, or the two other men who had said they knew Eppolito from the lot. For decades Eppolito had claimed to be the eleventh most decorated cop in the history of the NYPD, but now he allowed that was a "fallacy." The two Medals of Honor he had won were only "honorable mentions," not the actual awards, he allowed under questioning. Eppolito agreed that Cutler had won many victories before trial, including getting the judge to agree to exclude prejudicial evidence the government had sought to introduce -- like the allegation Eppolito had sold mug shots, robbed corner stores in the seventies, and accepted a bribe from Sammy the Bull Gravano not to investigate the murder of Frank Fiala in the Six-Two Precinct.

On the stand, Eppolito admitted that Kaplan had come to the home of his girlfriend, Cabrini Cama.

"Had you testified you were prepared to offer an explanation as to why you met covertly with Mr. Kaplan in Miss Cama's apartment?" Henoch asked.

"Yes."

"And it was because you were buying jeans from Mr. Kaplan?"

"Buying suits and I was buying shirts. It was almost impossible to get -- I couldn't go to Macy's or Sears. I was a 20 shirt, a 54 jacket, a 36 pants."

"And the one guy you could buy suits from in Brooklyn was a Luchese family associate closely associated with Anthony Casso?"

"No, he's the one guy that would switch the pants with the jacket. I would get a smaller pants with a bigger jacket."

Henoch turned to Mafia Cop. Eppolito said the original manuscript titled "The Man in the Middle" had been changed and edited. Henoch read Eppolito excerpts from the book. One involved taking the prisoner named Bugs and dunking his head repeatedly in a bucket filled with ammonia while Eppolito was partners with Caracappa. Eppolito claimed the quote was taken out of context.

"You bragged about basically torturing a suspect?" Henoch asked.

"Absolutely."

"Knowing that that is not lawful for you to do so?"

"Never happened," Eppolito testified.

"Assuming for the sake of argument you were asked about that in front of the jury, how do you think that would have played out for them?"

"I think if I told them the truth and what happened, I think they would have been fine with it."

Henoch read another passage. The incident described in Mafia Cop involved Detective Eppolito being insulted by a wiseguy. He went into his locker in the precinct house, the book said, grabbed his (illegal) sawed-off, double-barreled shotgun, and went to a mob social club in search of "Frankie Carbone." Henoch read, "I spotted Frankie sitting at a card table, walked up behind him, stuck the barrel in his mouth, and ordered him to his feet. 'Bye motherfucker' was all I said and he lost his whole insides. As I backed him into a wall I watched the stain in his pants get bigger and bigger. Suddenly I knew what it felt like to be my father. I was walking like a wiseguy, talking like a wiseguy, the power surge was comparable to what I felt at times as a cop yet somehow different, as if the police worked on AC current and the Mafia on DC."

"You're not allowed to do that as a cop, fair to say?" Henoch asked. "That would not be something lawful?"

"Who said I'm not allowed to do that?" Eppolito asked.

Henoch read another section from Mafia Cop, where Eppolito threatened to murder a man, leave his body in the trunk of a car to rot, and then find it and lead the NYPD investigation into the homicide himself.

"You thought that that was okay for a jury to know, in a case where you were being accused of being corrupt, and accused of abusing your police power, that you actually admitted doing that in a book you wrote?" Henoch asked.

"It actually happened, yeah. I would tell the jury the truth. I was a tough guy. It was the seventies. That is what the procedures were."

"You told him you were going to kill him and put him in a trunk?"

"That's just talk."

Eppolito seemed to believe that declaring himself a liar was somehow exculpatory. All a judge and jury needed to do was tease apart the lies that were only lies, Eppolito apparently proposed, and lies that were lies. He applied the same line of reasoning to all the mobster conniving and bragging caught on tape in Las Vegas in 2004 and 2005. Eppolito wasn't a "real, real gangster," he told the court, despite the audio evidence of him telling Corso precisely that. Eppolito was only playing a part for Corso's benefit. Caracappa and Eppolito took Steven Corso for a chump, Eppolito said. Corso lapped up the tough-guy talk and the New York gangster act.

"Mr. Caracappa was helping me make Corso feel like he was more important than what he was," Eppolito testified. "He liked being around tough guys and wiseguys, and I ate it up. I tried to pull him into me. I wanted him to invest in my films."

Eppolito's testimony was a bewildered mix of mob melodrama, deception, and unconscious confession. The scams he ran writing screenplays, charging large sums to write unproducible drivel, was an honest business, he said. He tried to explain how it worked, with a crooked smile. The money he was paid by people who hired him to write their life stories was not really "paid" to him. It was only a sum given to him against the future windfall the subject would receive when the script was sold to Hollywood. Eppolito kept the money, of course, but this did not mean he was being "paid." Eppolito also testified that he used the prospect of dating his daughter as yet another lure for Corso. The threats of violence he related to Corso, including taking up a hatchet to murder a recalcitrant tradesman, were true or false depending on the circumstances, Eppolito testified.

"Is it fair to say that you lie about anything if it would benefit you?" Henoch asked.

Eppolito appeared delighted by the question, as if he could finally state a self-evident truth. "As long as it will help me get my movies made."

"Down the rabbit hole and through the looking glass," Alan Feuer wrote in the New York Times, describing the hearings in Judge Weinstein's court. The ironies and fantasies and surrealities rapidly mounted. Caracappa and Eppolito were conning Corso by exploiting his fascination with the mafia, according to Eppolito, even while Corso tempted the pair to their ruination with a con. Caracappa's lawyer claimed that the government had turned Eppolito into the most effective witness and potent weapon against Caracappa. "The more Eppolito testified, the more it became clear that Cutler was absolutely right in refusing to put Eppolito on the stand," Oldham recalled. "Eppolito would have been the best witness the prosecution could have hoped for."
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Re: The Brotherhoods: The True Story of Two Cops Who Murdere

Postby admin » Wed Jun 18, 2014 2:28 am

PART 2 OF 2

DEFENDING THE DEFENSE

Henoch, meanwhile, was placed in the odd position of defending his former adversaries, Cutler and Hayes, in order to protect the hard-won verdict. The next witness was Bruce Cutler -- a defense attorney defending himself. Before Cutler took the stand, Judge Weinstein warned Bondy that by calling his own former attorney Eppolito was waiving his protection against self-incrimination in any future proceeding, including any prior crimes he had committed. Bondy agreed.

On the stand, Cutler recited his prodigious professional qualifications. During more than twenty-five years on the bar, he had been involved in many of the biggest criminal cases in the country, including his famously successful representation of John Gotti.

"I've been fortunate," Cutler said.

Bondy asked if Cutler had ever made a mistake during a trial. "Trial work is an art, not a science," Cutler replied. "You improvise, adapt, overcome. There's nobody like me."

Bondy asked about Cutler's cross-examination of Al D'Arco. Judge Weinstein had halted the questioning with Cutler in full oratorical flight. "You lost control," Bondy said.

"I never lose control," Cutler said. "My intention as a defense lawyer, always, is to pulverize the government's case. My goal is to pulverize and eviscerate."

"Did you attempt to put on a defense case?" Bondy asked.

"That's my defense: attack. Most of my cases, after the government's witnesses are eviscerated, I sum up and I win."

The case against Caracappa and Eppolito involved the worst crimes Cutler had ever encountered. "If I thought Lou was involved in any of them, I never would have represented him," Cutler said.

Cutler allowed that Henoch had surprised him with his tactics by truncating the case. Not calling Fat Pete Chiodo and proscribing D'Arco's testimony largely took the subject of the mafia out of the trial. "The government had Kaplan with his fake hair and his fake teeth and his lies," Cutler said. He had never heard of Burt Kaplan before Caracappa and Eppolito were arrested. He expected Kaplan to be one of many witnesses. "Not that he was going to be the sine qua non of the case," Cutler testified.

Bondy asked why Cutler had gone to lunch with the reporter from the New Yorker instead of attending the meeting in which Cutler's co-counsel and Eppolito had the phone call with Casso. "I didn't want to hear this devil, this Tasmanian Devil's voice," Cutler said. "I knew he had been dangling the Hydell body in front of the government. At the end of the call Lou thanked him and it bothered me."

"I don't want to hear anymore about Casso," Judge Weinstein said. "It is clear that any responsible attorney would not call Casso."

Bondy waded through the record of the trial attempting to show Cutler's poor decision making as an attorney. Cutler explained that he had to be careful not to "open the door" to character evidence, given Eppolito's repeated racist remarks and recounted tales of violence. As ineffective and pompous as Cutler's speechifying may have seemed at the trial, under Bondy's questioning a logic to Cutler's seemingly fevered defense emerged. After Eppolito's testimony, Cutler seemed downright reasonable.

"There was a day, Mr. Bondy, when lawyers worked together," Cutler said. He turned to Judge Weinstein. "Are you going to have lunch today, judge?" he asked. "It's the only thing I want."

Lunch was taken.

Upon resumption of the proceedings, Bondy raised the subject of Cutler's relationship with Eppolito.

"I had a little chat with him before trial," Cutler said. "Act like a man. Dress properly. Shave that goatee. I don't hold hands. I don't play footsie. I don't need you to help me. I'm helping you. Things were all right with Lou, but I sensed I couldn't console him or hold his hand and I think he needed it."

Cutler testified about his refusal to deal with Eppolito in the Plaza Diner, where he ate breakfast ("a half a cup of coffee, a banana, and some orange juice") at a separate table from Eppolito and family. The subject of Eppolito taking the stand had never come up, Cutler said, except for perhaps once.

"I've got to protect Lou above all else because he doesn't protect himself," Cutler said. "After dissecting the evidence, including Lou's book, I'm not sure I'm strong enough, but if I could have, I would have tackled him -- not literally, figuratively."

"Did you ever consider calling William Oldham or Tommy Dades?" Bondy asked.

"I had no intention of calling either as a defense witness," Cutler replied.

Weinstein interjected. "The defendant's excuse for not bringing his desire to testify to the attention of the court is ludicrous," Weinstein observed. "The defendant's immorality and lack of credibility lead the court to ignore his testimony on any point. The defendant received an excellent defense."

Eddie Hayes was next, but he was nowhere to be found. The court learned that Hayes had traveled to Florida to visit his eighty-two-year-old mother but was expected momentarily. While the court waited, Bondy read excerpts from Hayes's memoir, Mouthpiece, regarding his dealings with the NYPD and long friendship with Cutler. Hayes arrived dressed in a pink-and-white-striped polo shirt and wearing a characteristic grin. Bondy had called Hayes and so began the direct examination. Hayes testified that he and Cutler had known each other for thirty years. Bondy wanted to know if Hayes recollected Eppolito's efforts to be allowed to take the stand in his own defense. Hayes did not.

"You never heard Mr. Eppolito insist on testifying?" Bondy asked.

"Never," Hayes replied.

The proceedings descended into farce as Bondy continued to call witnesses in the hope of convincing the court of Eppolito's desire to testify despite Weinstein's explicit refutation of the argument. Weinstein continued to give Bondy room to create a record for a possible appeal, but the judge's skepticism was readily apparent. Eppolito's daughter, Andrea, his foremost spokesperson and advocate, swore that her father had banged the steering wheel in frustration driving away from the court after the telephone call with Casso. "He won't take a fucking phone call," she said her father said of Cutler. "He won't read my notes."

While Bondy seemed convinced he was gaining a legal advantage, Daniel Nobel was more realistic. Caracappa's attorney had informed his client that there was little likelihood the convictions would be overturned. The Daily News reported, "Nobel said outside court that he had advised his client there was' a snowball's chance in hell' of Weinstein throwing out the verdict."

On Caracappa's behalf, Nobel re-called Eddie Hayes, now testifying against his former client. As Nobel tried to cast doubt on Hayes's command of the intricacies of RICO, Hayes corrected and clarified Nobel's own characterizations of the law. Nobel asked Hayes why he did not place the statute of limitations argument more forcefully before the jury. Hayes replied that it was not a good strategy to tell the jury that the two defendants were guilty of a string of horrific crimes while they were NYPD detectives but should be acquitted because the charges had come too late. Nobel imagined an opening statement that Hayes might have given to a jury. Nobel imagined himself giving such an opening, bellowing to a nonexistent jury about the statute of limitations and the need to not convict even if they were guilty.

"It would take some nerve to make that argument before a jury, especially with former detective defendants," Hayes said.

"I would not expect a counsel of such eminence to make such an opening," Weinstein said. "It's absurd."

A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS

On Friday, June 30, 2006, a sleepy afternoon at the federal courthouse, Judge Jack Weinstein issued a seventy-seven page judgment in the case of the United States v. Stephen Caracappa and Louis Eppolito. The legal determination was one of the most important in Weinstein's distinguished career. The publicity it would attract would be vast. It was an opportunity for the veteran judge, friend of Bobby Kennedy and lifelong New York liberal, to make a statement that would reach the largest possible audience. The "mafia cops" case was suddenly back in the headlines.

"The evidence presented at trial overwhelmingly established the defendants' participation in a large number of heinous and violent crimes, including eight murders," Weinstein began. "While serving as New York City police detectives, the defendants used their badges not in service of the public, but in aid of organized crime. They kidnapped, murdered, and assisted kidnappers and murderers, all the while sworn to protect the public against such crimes."

Judge Weinstein reviewed the factual history of the case. In reciting the underlying criminal acts in detail he created a record that the guilt of Caracappa and Eppolito had been proven beyond reasonable doubt. There were two sets of criminal conduct, Weinstein wrote. From 1986 until the early nineties, Caracappa and Eppolito had been "employed" by Gaspipe Casso through his agent Burton Kaplan. These offenses constituted "the New York acts." The crimes related to money laundering and narcotics trafficking, which transpired in Las Vegas in 2004 and 2005, were "the Nevada acts." The "thin" connection between these two acts had caused Weinstein concern from the outset, he wrote. For a RICO case to fall within the time limits of the law, the two acts had to form a single "pattern." But the necessity of a trial, for the defendants to clear their name or the government to prove its case, had overcome Weinstein's misgivings about the statute of limitations.

"The government's overwhelming case was skillfully presented with credible witnesses and supporting interlocking documents and other proof of each of the racketeering acts charged," Weinstein wrote. Kaplan had testified convincingly and methodically about the formation of the conspiracy and the New York acts, he said.

"Although co-conspirator Anthony Casso did not testify at the trial, he was a constant ethereal presence," Weinstein wrote. "At no time did either party indicate that it desired to call Casso. His unreliability, capriciousness, and potential danger as a witness who could turn toward either side as quickly as a weathervane on a blustery day was well-known to all." Cutler's decision not to call Casso as a witness was not only strategically sound, but wise, noted the judge. "Calling Casso would have been an unmitigated disaster," Weinstein said. "Up until the final days of the trial, Casso had done nothing but implicate the defendants, even making eleventh-hour attempts to assist the government."

The claim of inadequate representation was baseless, said the judge. "While there may be disagreement as to the value of the sometimes baroque style of these two attorneys, they were clearly skilled, dedicated to their clients, and enormously hardworking." As for Eppolito's claim that he was denied the right to testify in his own defense, this was also dismissed by the judge. Eppolito had been a police officer for more than twenty years. The notion that he didn't know he could assert his right to take the stand was risible. Regardless, even if he had testified the verdict would not have been changed.

"On the contrary, Eppolito's testimony at the hearing made it overwhelmingly clear that his testimony at the trial would have proven a disaster to himself and his co-defendant. In addition to describing himself, under oath, as a man who would lie to get what he wanted, Eppolito gave numerous examples of times when he had lied or embellished in order to further his career or image. He discussed his own racism at great length, volunteering a long list of racial slurs that he said he often used; admitted to having placed a sawed-off shotgun in the mouth of a man who had insulted his mother, expressing disbelief when the prosecutor asked him whether he knew such an act was illegal; and confessed to having removed files from the police department without permission. On cross-examination, he repeatedly volunteered more self-damaging information than was necessary to answer the prosecution's questions. As for his testimony regarding the crimes with which he was charged, it appears that, aside from a general denial of involvement, Eppolito had little to say. Although Eppolito claimed that he had told his counsel that he could refute the charges against him, his testimony at the hearing gave no indication that was the case."

Repeatedly stressing the guilt of Caracappa and Eppolito, Judge Weinstein then put the case back in the news around the world. Throughout the judgment Weinstein drew a bright-line distinction between facts and the law. In the verdict, the jury had been asked as a matter of fact if the statute of limitations requirement had been met by the prosecution. The jury found, as fact, that the conspiracy was ongoing and satisfied the statute of limitations rule.

Weinstein disagreed, as a matter of law.

It was not an unprecedented move for the judge. Weinstein had done the same thing during the trial of Vincent "Chin" Gigante in 1997. The jury found Gigante guilty of conspiring to murder John Gotti. Despite the jury's verdict, Weinstein overturned the conviction on the grounds that it was time-barred under RICO. In this new judgment, he quoted himself in the Gigante case. "Conspiracy theory provides federal prosecutors with a powerful flail to unseat criminals, a weapon so effective that many potential state prosecutions are shifted to federal court by frustrated district attorneys. Yet its very effectiveness requires care that it is not utilized to commit injustice."

The trial of Caracappa and Eppolito involved crimes that dated back twenty years. But it was taking place in a contemporary context. The trial attracted enormous interest. Front pages were commanded, Hollywood movies contemplated, books prepared for publication. The eighty-fouryear- old Weinstein, in what would probably be his last judgment in a case of such public magnitude, turned to the broadest notions of justice. Those who knew him well and those who had closely watched him during the trial felt a sense that he had known all along where the case was heading. Judge Weinstein attempted to thread the needle. The public good of the trial and conviction of the cops had been achieved. Weinstein now turned to the limitation of the government's power.

The government's case stretched the conspiracy law to the breaking point, Weinstein wrote. Decades-old crimes could not be joined with three completely unrelated criminal acts committed years later in another geographical area and under different circumstances. The evidence was insufficient to support the jury's verdict.

"It will undoubtedly appear peculiar to many people that heinous criminals such as the defendants, having been found guilty on overwhelming evidence of the most despicable crimes of violence and treachery, should go unwhipped of justice. Yet our Constitution, statutes, and morality require that we be ruled by law, not by vindictiveness or the advantages of the moment. If we are to be ruled by the law, we must be limited by its protections. As Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes reminded us, it is a 'less evil that some criminals should escape than that the government should play an ignoble part.' Even during the great emergency of the Civil War, the court rejected the theory that the rule of law could be twisted to meet the exigencies of the moment. In 1866, the Supreme Court wrote, 'The constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and in peace, and covers with the shield for its protection all classes of men, at all times, and under all circumstances. No doctrine, involving more pernicious consequences, was ever invented by the wit of man than that any of its provisions can be suspended during any of the great exigencies of government.' And, as John Locke declared in his Second Treatise of Government -- and as the events of the last century have illustrated -- 'wherever Law ends, Tyranny begins.'''

Weinstein ended with a literary quotation, a touch of eclat at the end of a case that had from the first revolved around the written word. The reference was from A Man for All Seasons. The play was produced on Broadway in 1961, the dawn of the golden age of liberal democracy in America, when the Kennedy administration was dubbed "Camelot" after the court of King Arthur and the Broadway play of the same name. A Man for All Seasons was a play about ancient concerns. The subject was Henry VIII and his desire to be made head of the Church in order to grant himself a divorce. Sir Thomas More, friend of the king but chancellor of England, must decide whether to grant the king's request. Faced with overwhelming power, More stood by the law and refused to accept the king's claim to the Church. The dialogue quoted by Weinstein is written in a style both antique and modern.

"What would you do?" More asks the zealot William Roper. "Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?"

"I'd cut down every law in England to do that!" Roper exclaims.

"Oh?" More asks. "And when the law was down, and the Devil turned round on you, where would you hide, Roper, all the laws being flat? This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast -- man's laws, not God's -- and if you cut them down -- and you're just the man to do it -- do you really think you could stand straight upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil the benefit of law, for my own safety's sake."

Weinstein concluded that the sanctity of law and justice transcended the guilt of Caracappa and Eppolito. In the age of the government's war on terror, the rule of law was in peril, Weinstein intimated. In such a time of danger, the government had to be watched to see that it did not stretch the meaning of words and statutes to suit its purposes, no matter how just the cause appeared.

In the end, Judge Weinstein held, the devil himself must be granted the benefits of the rule of law, as should Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa.

The verdict was overturned.

THE BROTHERHOOD

The government immediately announced it would appeal the ruling, an action that would take months. As the fall turned to winter in 2006, the fates of Caracappa and Eppolito hung in legal limbo. Their convictions had been vacated, yet they were guilty of murder. The evidence said so. A jury said so. The esteemed judge said so.

No longer convicted of any crimes, Caracappa and Eppolito would remain in prison pending the outcome of the government's appeal. Bail was denied by Judge Weinstein. "Defendants have a high incentive to flee, given that they have been publicly shamed -- and as a result, will be ostracized -- after a trial at which they were proven guilty of heinous criminal acts," Weinstein wrote.

Eppolito continued to maintain his innocence. Granting an interview to Daily News reporter Greg B. Smith, he said, "I thought this was all a very well-thought-out plan. It was a perfect frame. There's no more perfect frame than this."

Caracappa remained silent.

In public statements, the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office announced that if Caracappa and Eppolito were eventually found to have no criminal liability in federal court, New York state authorities would pursue murder and kidnapping charges against the two former NYPD detectives. In the state, there was no statute of limitations on murder and kidnapping prosecutions. For those who had followed the case and were convinced of the guilt of Caracappa and Eppolito, this news was welcome and reassuring: if convicted on state charges, Stephen Caracappa and Louis Eppolito, both aged beyond their years, would nearly certainly spend the rest of their lives behind bars.

Housed in the same cell, the first fissure in their relationship appeared during the hearing where bail was denied, when Caracappa asked that he be taken out of his cell with Eppolito and permitted to live in the general prison population. Caracappa did not say if the request was to escape the monotony of twenty-three-hour-a-day lockdown, or to finally rid himself of his association with Louis Eppolito, aka Mafia Cop.

After the guilty verdicts were announced, Oldham was invited to speak to a group of retired NYPD detectives. Known as the Knights of the Round Table, the group met once a month to talk about old times and listen to true-crime cop stories from the present and the past. The meeting to which Oldham was invited was held at Pete's Tavern, an old pub in Gramercy Park in Manhattan known for its literary history and the hundreds of signed pictures of sports and entertainment figures that covered its walls.

As Oldham donned a dark blue shirt and suit he felt weary. The wear and tear on him from the case showed in his eyes, and like many ex-cops, he was having difficulty adjusting to retirement. As he dressed, he wondered about the nature of the invitation. He had grown so used to people telling him that they didn't want to hear about the case that he had been a little taken aback by the interest from the detectives' group. The invitation had come from a retired police captain named John McMahon. Now in his late sixties, McMahon was gregarious and energetic, and had become a defense attorney after leaving the police department.

Oldham kissed his daughters good-bye and headed for his car. The drive to Gramercy Park was short, and he approached the meeting not knowing what to expect. Despite the victory, the prosecution of Caracappa and Eppolito had not been a popular cause inside many circles in the NYPD, both active duty and retired. "A lot of guys thought the whole case made the department look bad. Some thought criminals shouldn't be used to testify against cops. Most didn't want to know too much. An entire generation of law enforcement had been fooled by Caracappa and Eppolito. Men who had dedicated their lives to saving lives and catching criminals had two killers walking among them. That generation was dying, too. Kenny McCabe, a legend, had passed away that winter. Other guys were getting sick or old."

Pete's Tavern was a step or two up from the usual police haunts -- it served an excellent steak, a good red wine. Oldham had worked as Jacques Chirac's bodyguard on a visit to Pete's in the late eighties when Chirac was mayor of Paris before he became president of France. When Oldham arrived he saw that the tavern had not changed much in nearly twenty years, which was not surprising, as it had opened in 1864.

The lunch meeting was held in a room upstairs from the main bar. Two dozen retired NYPD detectives had gathered. Prime rib and roasted potatoes were served. Oldham had never belonged to an organization like the Knights of the Round Table. In the NYPD he had been an outsider from the beginning. He did not expect a hero's welcome, nor did he expect open resentment and anger. When Oldham entered, a former Major Case colleague got to his feet and walked out. Oldham wasn't shocked. He and the former colleague had never gotten along in a department where people often clashed, rivalries arose, and disagreements about guilt and innocence were commonplace. The reaction of the others surprised Oldham -- the last twist in a case that had contained so many.

"Few of the cops in the room wanted to confront the fact that two of their fellow detectives were killers. Eppolito maybe. But Steve Caracappa? A first-grade detective and stand-up guy? Caracappa had been convicted by a jury of his peers of murdering, kidnapping, selling crystal meth -- and selling out his friends, partners, and society. The evidence had been declared overwhelming by the most experienced judge in the country. For some of the cops in Pete's Tavern it was easier -- less painful -- to fall back on the old assumptions and excuses, the ones that created the problem in the first place. The general sentiment was that the feds were cop haters. That Burt Kaplan was a liar. One old guy said he'd heard that I was a bum and that Steve and Louie were innocent. That attitude was exactly what Caracappa and Eppolito had preyed upon. Detectives supposedly trained to not make assumptions were incapable of imagining two of their own capable of murder. It contradicted their way of seeing the world, and themselves. They didn't want to know the facts.

"I knew that some detectives had taken the time to familiarize themselves with the case. Detective Chuck Siriano, who served with Caracappa and me in the Major Case Squad, had read the entire transcript of Kaplan's testimony. Chuck saw how convincing Kaplan's evidence was -- the detail, the texture, the command of facts. Chuck lay awake for nights playing back events in his mind -- the shooting of Dominic Costa, the times that he had been out on surveillance and Caracappa knew of his whereabouts, the time he was certain wiseguys had followed him on his way home. It was torture thinking about the betrayal. I knew the feeling.

"As the hostility in the room rose, I started to get angry. I couldn't help wondering what the hell these detectives wanted. For Caracappa and Eppolito to get away with murder so the reputation of the NYPD wouldn't be dirtied? For Israel Greenwald to still lay buried under a concrete slab on Nostrand Avenue so they could eat their meat and potatoes at Pete's Tavern in peace? I was tired of being told by my brother detectives that they didn't want to hear about the case. They should have been applauding the work of the cadre. A bunch of old New York City detectives -- men just like them -- went out and made one of the best cases in years. Not the young, clean-cut federal agents who couldn't find their way home without a map. Old guys like me who drink too much and don't follow the rules but run their cases to the ground-detectives who want to know the truth, no matter where it leads, no matter how hard it is to take."

While others couldn't contain their hostility, Oldham's host, retired captain John McMahon, remained a gentleman throughout. "I told the men that I would stay until the last of them left, if anyone wanted to talk about the case," Oldham remembered. "Some guys stayed. They wanted to hear the story of Louie and Steve. I told them how it began. I told them how I got to the Major Case Squad by nearly getting killed by a police impersonator in the Three-Four. How I wanted to be a go-to detective, like Caracappa. How I knew there was something wrong with Caracappa the first time I met him."

_______________

Notes:

1. As Eppolito and Caracappa awaited their sentencing hearing, the very man who had triggered the chain of events that led to their murderous conspiracy with Luchese underboss Gaspipe Casso was himself arrested and charged with loan-sharking, extortion, and drug dealing. Twenty years earlier, Mickey Boy Paradiso had taken out a contract on Casso, hiring Jimmy Hydell and his incompetent crew for the hit-a failed gambit that provoked Casso's revenge and the killing spree that cascaded decades forward in time. Jerry Capeci's "Gangland" column of May 25, 2006, reported the indictment of Paradiso, the Gambino gangster who had once smacked John Gotti in the face during an argument and lived to tell the tale. "I'll kill him, I'll cut his fucking throat," Paradiso was caught saying on an FBI tape. "When I get mad I'm a different person. I don't rationalize."
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