Posted by Edmond Geary on 06-17-2010
Stephen Caracappa and Louis Eppolito were convicted three years before of acting as assassins for the Mafia while they were employed by New York Police Department. Finally, [in March, 2009] they were sentenced in Brooklyn by U.S. District Court by Judge Jack Weinstein, Eppolito to life plus 100 years with a fine of $4.75 million, Caracappa to life plus 80 years and a fine of $4.25 million.
The judge said the two defendants likely had hidden assets to pay the fines. One asset that will not be seized, however, is their police pensions. Both men have been drawing tax-free disability pensions from the City of New York since they left the police department. Caracappa retired in 1992 as a first-grade detective. He receives $5,313 a month. Eppolito retired in 1990 as a second-grade detective and receives a $3,896 per month in pension.
Both detectives, who joined the police force in 1969, retired before they were charged with anything, so their convictions do not interrupt their pensions from the city. Although first reports of the detective’s corruption surfaced in 1979, they continued to receive promotions in the police department. Implicated a number of times, they were never charged until in this prosecution. The pensions are not subject to seizure for the fines due the federal government.
Under New York law, pensions due former public employees are treated as property in trust for the employee. Efforts to exact forfeiture of such pensions as penalty for those convicted of corruption have failed in the past. In 2009, 450 corrupt former officials, judges and police officers were reportedly still receiving pensions despite their convictions.
Caracappa, now 68 years old, is gaunt, with little color in his face. Eppolito is 61 and doing better but still a wreck. They will have little opportunity to spend their pensions in prison, but their families can. The testimony of the families of some of their victims at the sentencing hearing did not prompt either of the men to give up their pensions.
Caracappa’s and Eppolito’s trial [in 2006?] lasted 3 weeks. It was built around the testimony of Burton Kaplan, a wholesale garment dealer who was involved in a number of schemes with people in organized crime. Jimmy Breslin wrote a book about Kaplan, entitled “The Good Rat, ” which describes how Caracappa, using a police computer, helped track down a man named Nicholas Guido for the Mafia. Caracappa made a mistake, however, and gave a wrong address with the same name, who was soon shot to death.
Caracappa’s and Eppolito were charged with accepting $4,000 a month payments from the mob for spying, plus tens of thousands extra for the occasional kidnapping or murder. They disclosed the identities of witnesses and leaked information, compromising investigations. In their first mob killing in 1986, they used the siren on their unmarked car to pull over a jeweler on a Long Island road. They told Israel Greenwald they needed him to stand in a lineup to investigate a traffic accident. Then they drove him to a garage, where he was shot to death.
At their trial, the detectives were convicted of murdering a capo in the Gambino family capo in his Mercedes-Benz on the Belt Parkway in New York. The jury also found them guilty of kidnaping a man, putting him in the trunk of their car, and delivering him to a mobster, who then tortured the man for hours before killing him.
Following the trial in which they were convicted of racketeering conspiracy, the trial judge issued but did not impose a life sentence for each detective. The judge stated he believed the five-year statute of limitations had run on the crimes the defendants had committed and therefore overturned the convictions. The most serious crimes of which the two detectives were accused occurred in Brooklyn, including murders, in the 1980s and 1990s, prosecutors used more recent and less serious crimes, such as money-laundering and dope distribution in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 2004-2005, to bring the earlier acts into the conspiracy net as an ongoing criminal enterprise. The judge did not believe the conspiracy could include the earlier acts, but the United States Court of Appeals differed and reinstated the convictions.