Two detectives who gave New York a whole new definition of corrupt cops were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole this afternoon.
Before sentence was pronounced in Brooklyn Federal Court by Judge Jack Weinstein, Louis Eppolito, 60, and Stephen Caracappa, 67, both rose to protest their innocence.
“I’m a big boy. I’m not a child,” said Eppolito, reports the Daily News’ John Marzulli. “The federal government can take my life. But they can’t take my soul, they can’t take my dignity. I never hurt anybody…I never did any of this.”
By “any of this” Eppolito is here referring to eight murders, two attempted murders, and one murder conspiracy of which he and Caracappa — his pal and former partner — were convicted three years ago.
In one case, the cops snatched a young hoodlum off the streets, stuffed him in a car trunk, and delivered him to Lucchese crime family big Anthony “Gaspipe” Casso who then delighted in torturing him for several hours before killing him.
In another, the rogue detectives served as their own hitmen, gunning down a John Gotti lieutenant after pulling his car over near the Belt Parkway.
Then there was the diamond dealer from Midwood that the cops killed and buried in a Brooklyn garage after Burt Kaplan, the drug-dealing middle man between the cops and Casso, told them he was worried the diamond merchant might flip on him.
In exchange for a monthly retainer, the detectives routinely routed secret law enforcement information about witnesses and inviestigations to Casso. But they were sloppy workers. In 1986, they told Casso where his gunsels could find a mob associate named Nicky Guido that the mobster was looking for. It was the wrong man. On Christmas Day, gangsters snuck up on a phone company worker with the same name who was showing off his new car to his uncle on a Brooklyn street and shot him to death.
Weinstein, an old fashioned jurist who never plays to the crowd no matter its size or makeup, initially dismissed the convictions. He ruled that prosecutors went a step too far in trying to link a more recent drug deal that the ex-cops pulled in Las Vegas, years after they’d retired from their side jobs as mob moles. An appeals court reinstated the verdict last year.
Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Benton Campbell had the last word: “The sentences imposed today bring some measure of closure for the families of the victims of these defendants’ unspeakable crimes, and for the citizens of the city whose trust these men betrayed.”