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NYPD Performing Hits for the Mob

New York- In what could be the worst scandal in NYPD history, two retired detectives were charged yesterday with moonlighting as hit men for the mob – allegedly carrying out one gangland execution and aiding in at least seven others.

Federal agents stunned Louis Eppolito, 56, and Stephen Caracappa, 63, when they grabbed the ex-cops at Piero’s Italian restaurant in Las Vegas Wednesday night.

Eppolito, a cop-turned-actor who retired in 1990, had bit parts in movies like “Goodfellas.” A much-decorated detective, he was the subject of a 1992 book, “Mafia Cop: The Story of an Honest Cop Whose Family Was the Mob.”

Nearly 20 years after he allegedly began disgracing the badge, he was still playing the tough-guy role.

“Louie was trying to be brave, but Caracappa was really shaken,” said a law enforcement source.

Law enforcement officials were still in disbelief yesterday over the extent of the crimes – including eight murders, two attempted murders, murder conspiracy, drug distribution and money laundering – and how long they went unsolved.

It’s just “stunning,” said Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Roslynn Mauskopf, who announced the indictment at a news conference. “These corrupt former detectives betrayed their shields, their colleagues and the citizens they were sworn to protect.”

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes, whose office played a key role in breaking the case, called it “one of the most shocking examples of criminal activity I’ve ever witnessed.”

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly called the alleged crimes “shocking and disgraceful.” According to the indictment, Luchese underboss Anthony (Gaspipe) Casso began paying the detectives $4,000 a month in 1986 for confidential information – including the identities of police informants, who were then whacked.

Casso referred to the detectives as his “Crystal Ball.”

When Casso became a turncoat in 1994, he told the feds that Eppolito and Caracappa accepted a $65,000 contract and murdered Gambino soldier Edward Lino on the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn on Nov. 6, 1992. He said Caracappa, who had retired on a disability pension that year, was the shooter.

Casso also blabbed that in September 1986 the pair had abducted another Gambino thug, James Hydell, who was behind a murder attempt on the underboss.

The detectives stuffed Hydell into their car trunk and delivered him to Casso, authorities said. The victim was tortured and killed. His body, thought to be buried in Canarsie, Brooklyn, was never found.

But Casso had a lot of baggage and the case wouldn’t fly on his word alone, a law enforcement source said.

The files gathered dust at the U.S. attorney’s office until NYPD Detective Thomas Dades developed new leads in late 2003, closely tying the rogue ex-cops to Hydell the day he was snatched in Dyker Park, Brooklyn.

Sources said Dades went to the Brooklyn district attorney’s chief investigator, Joseph Ponzi. With the encouragement of federal prosecutors, they stacked boxes of files on a handcart and moved them to a 17th-floor war room on Jay St., Brooklyn.

Dades rummaged through precinct basement storage rooms, tracking down Eppolito’s and Caracappa’s work schedules for particular days.

He also found logs detailing corruption allegations against the detectives over the years – but Internal Affairs officials said many of the investigative files were lost.

A paper trail of computer records emerged that showed Caracappa, who worked in a sensitive organized-crime homicide unit, had grossly abused his position, officials said.

One printout was a smoking gun: Caracappa had searched for information on a Nicholas Guido, who was shot to death on Christmas Day 1986. Caracappa allegedly gave the information to Casso, who wanted a Gambino associate named Nicholas Guido killed. But the detective had called up the wrong Guido – a law-abiding telephone installer.

The investigation gathered steam as Ponzi flipped a key witness with knowledge of Casso’s murderous plans as well as the detectives’ assistance in locating victims, many of them law enforcement informants.

They learned that Eppolito and Caracappa even accepted a contract to kill John Gotti’s underboss Salvatore (Sammy Bull) Gravano in 1986, but couldn’t pull that one off.

“They make [drug-dealing cop] Michael Dowd look like an altar boy,” Dades, now retired, told the Daily News yesterday. “They will go down as the two most disgraceful police officers in history.”

With Jonathan Lemire and David Lepeska

Here are the mob murders and other crimes former NYPD Detectives Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa were involved in, according to prosecutors:

JANUARY 1986 Eppolito and Caracappa accept contract from Gaspipe Casso to find and kill Gambino underboss Salvatore (Sammy Bull) Gravano. They track Sammy for a while, but do not carry out hit.

SEPTEMBER 1986 James Hydell is abducted by Eppolito and Caracappa, who stuff him in the trunk of their sedan and deliver him to Luchese underboss Casso. Hydell is tortured and killed. His body was never found.

DECEMBER 1986 Nicholas Guido, a Brooklyn telephone installer, is murdered in a case of mistaken identity. Eppolito and Caracappa fingered the wrong Nicholas Guido, mistaking him for mob associate with the same name.

OCTOBER 1987 John Heidel, a member of a safecracking crew, is shot to death after Caracappa and Eppolito tell Casso he is cooperating with authorities.

FEBRUARY 1990 Anthony Dilapi, a Luchese soldier, is whacked after refusing to meet with Casso. Caracappa and Eppolito helped Casso locate him.

MAY 1990 James Bishop, an official in Painters Union Local 37, is slain after Caracappa and Eppolito disclose he is cooperating in a corruption investigation.

AUGUST 1990 Gambino soldier Bruno Facciola is slain after he is identified as informant by Eppolito and Caracappa.

MAY 1991 Gambino soldier Bartolomeo (Bobby) Boriello is killed after Eppolito and Caracappa provide Casso with a possible address for him.

NOVEMBER 1992 Gambino capo Edward Lino is shot dead on the Belt Parkway after his vehicle is pulled over by Eppolito and Caracappa, who followed him from social club. Caracappa is the shooter. The contract paid $65,000.

Disgraced cop Louis Eppolito had a second career in Hollywood playing bit roles as a cop and a mobster – as befitting his alleged double life:

“GoodFellas,” 1990 (mobster Fat Andy); “State of Grace,” 1990 (Borelli’s man, a mobster); “Predator 2,” 1990 (patrolman); “Switch,” 1991 (Al the guard); “Company Business,” 1991 (Paco Gonzalez, Colombian drug dealer);”Ruby,” 1992 (Detective Taylor); “Mad Dog and Glory,” 1993; “Hand Gun,” 1994 (raid cop); “Bullets over Broadway,” 1994 (waterfront hood); “Lost Highway,” 1997 (Ed the detective); “Da Game of Life,” 1998 (assassin)



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