Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa are two former New York Police Department (NYPD) police detectives who worked on behalf of the New York Mafia while they committed various illegal activities. In 2006, they were convicted of labor racketeering, extortion, narcotics, illegal gambling, obstruction of justice, eight murders and conspiracy to commit murder, charges stemming from the 1980s and the early 1990s in New York, and in the 2000s in Las Vegas. Both were sentenced to life in federal prison.
Louis Eppolito is the son of Ralph Eppolito and knew a number of members of the Cosa Nostra through his family. Louis Eppolito's paternal uncle and cousin, James Eppolito and James Eppolito Jr., were also both made Gambino members in Capo Nino Gaggi's crew. They were eventually murdered by both Anthony Gaggi and Gambino family soldier, Roy DeMeo, with the permission of Gambino family boss, Paul Castellano. However, Eppolito claimed to have avoided the Mafia lifestyle and therefore became a New York City police detective, a job which garnered him a number of headlines. He was first a suspect in a corruption case where he was suspected of passing New York Police Department intelligence reports on to Rosario Gambino, a distant relative of Carlo Gambino and Paul Castellano, the former leaders of the Gambino crime family, in 1983, but was cleared. Eppolito retired as a police officer in late 1990. In his book, he cites his tarnished reputation over the Rosario Gambino corruption case as a reason for leaving. Over the next decade he had a minor career as an actor, with small roles in movies including Predator 2 and the gangster film Goodfellas. In 1992, Eppolito wrote a book, Mafia Cop: The Story of an Honest Cop Whose Family Was the Mob, in which he spoke of his attempts to avoid being dragged into the criminal life and fight for his reputation as a result of the Rosario Gambino corruption case.
Stephen Caracappa had worked in the NYPD's organized crime unit in Brooklyn, New York, since the late 1970s before he eventually retired on a disability pension in 1992. He subsequently worked as a private investigator and retired in the mid-1990s, moving to Las Vegas, Nevada, along with Eppolito, where he worked inside the Las Vegas Women's Correctional Facility as a correctional officer. While on trial in 2006, both he and Eppolito claimed that they were discriminated against during the proceedings.
By 1985, US authorities recognized Eppolito and Caracappa as associates and workers for the New York Mafia. Stephen Caracappa was at this point a member of the Organized Crime Homicide Unit within the Major Case Squad, based in Brooklyn, New York, and both their reputations were diminished as they were known to use highly inappropriate methods to get results in their line of work. According to Anthony Casso, the Underboss of the Lucchese crime family, when he tried for Witness Protection in 1994, he and his boss Vittorio Amuso had been paying Eppolito and Caracappa $375,000 in bribes and as payments for murder 'contracts' since 1985, after they were signed as NYPD detectives and partners. Among other things, Casso shared that, in 1986, the two police officers kidnapped and turned over an associate of the Gambino crime family named James Hydell to be murdered brutally by Gaspipe, on the orders of Casso and Amuso, as retaliation for an attempt on Casso's life. They also murdered Lucchese member Bruno Facciolo with assistance of Louis Daidone on the orders of Casso because they suspected him of being an informant for law enforcement. Facciolo's murder has been famous for the stuffed canary US law enforcement recovered in his mouth at the crime-scene, which was considered as a message to other informants. As the Genovese crime family boss Vincent Gigante wanted to squeeze the rival John Gotti of the Gambino crime family during the late 1980s, Casso ordered Eppolito and Caracappa to put pressure on the Gambinos. Casso shared that he ordered the murder of Gambino captain Edward Lino as a favor for Gigante. On November 6, 1990, Lino was shot nine times as he sat in his 1990 Mercedes S-Class by both Eppolito and Caracappa. The hit was in retaliation for the 1985 murder of Gotti's former boss and Gigante's ally, Paul Castellano, who was murdered on the orders of Gotti to protect his brother from Castellano and become boss himself.
On April 13, 1991, Caracappa and Eppolito provided information that led to the murder of Gambino crime family soldier and Gotti's friend Bartholomew Boriello on the orders of Frank Lastorino, a captain in the Lucchese crime family who was the central suspect in Boriello's murder for years. Lastorino, acting on Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso's orders in the early 1990s while he was on the run, was reportedly promoted Consigliere of the family for his work. As the relations between the Gambino and Lucchese crime families got even worse, Lastorino reputedly ordered Eppolito and Caracappa to murder former Gambino mobster and then-current Lucchese made man Patrick Testa in 1992, and make it look like the Gambinos did it, in an attempt to start a war with Gotti, who was jailed on federal racketeering and murder charges which he was sentenced to life imprisonment for in 1992. Although never convicted of Testa's murder, US law enforcement estimates Lastorino was present during the shooting. Anthony Casso was still a reported fugitive at the time.
After massive indictments were issued on almost every crime family in New York City during the mid 1990s, both Eppolito and Caracappa retired to Las Vegas, Nevada, however, Casso has later confirmed that both of the "Mafia Cops" were still much in business although considered in retirement, as they had been contacted in 1993 by Frank Lastorino, now one of the most powerful members in the Lucchese crime family, to murder then-current head of the Gambino crime family John "Junior" Gotti, son of imprisoned John Gotti, and Gotti's rival Nicholas Corozzo, another top member of the Gambinos, a plot which never succeeded. They were also contacted when Lastorino conspired into murdering the Underboss of the Lucchese crime family, Steven Crea, which also didn't succeed due to the indictments toward the family at the time. It has also been proved toward the late 1990s that both Eppolito and Caracappa conspired to kill former Gambino crime family Underboss Salvatore Gravano, who entered the Witness Protection Program in 1992 after testifying against his boss John Gotti, to collect the reward which was placed on his head by Peter Gotti. Gravano was later arrested and convicted of drug trafficking in 2003 where he received 19 years in prison.
After a long investigation, highlighted by Burton Kaplan's decision to testify against his former confederates, both Eppolito and Caracappa were arrested in March 2005 and charged with counts of racketeering, obstruction of justice, extortion and eight counts of murder and conspiracy, including the murders of James Hydell, Nicholas Guido, John "Otto" Heidel, John Doe, Anthony DiLapi, Bruno Facciolo, Edward Lino and Bartholomew Boriello, and the murder conspiracy on Salvatore Gravano, hatched by Peter Gotti.
On April 6, 2006, Eppolito and Caracappa were convicted on all charges. Kaplan, a businessman and career criminal, who had been the link between Casso and the two policemen, was the chief accuser, giving two days of riveting testimony. On June 5, 2006, Eppolito and Caracappa were sentenced to life imprisonment. There is no parole for federal sentences.
On June 30, 2006, a judge threw out a racketeering murder conviction against the two detectives on a technicality - the five-year statute of limitations had expired on the key charge of racketeering conspiracy. Although there is no statute of limitations for murder in the State of New York, the case had been prosecuted in federal court because it was thought more likely to yield a conviction. On September 17, 2008, their racketeering convictions were ordered reinstated by a federal appeals court.
A new book about the two disgraced former detectives, The Brotherhoods: The True Story of Two Cops Who Murdered for the Mafia by Guy Lawson and William Oldham, was published in hardcover by Scribner in November 2006.
On March 6, 2009, Eppolito was sentenced to life in prison plus 100 years. Caracappa received life plus 80 years. Each was fined more than $4 million. On July 23, 2010, their convictions were upheld by a New York City appeals court.
Incarceration and deaths
Caracappa was incarcerated at the United States Penitentiary, Coleman in Florida. He was transferred to a federal prison in North Carolina. He died on April 8, 2017.
Eppolito was incarcerated at the United States Penitentiary, Tucson, a high-security federal prison. He died on November 3, 2019.