Criminal Procedure

Racketeering Convictions Reinstated for Accused NYPD 'Mob Assassins'

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Finding that a trial judge had mistakenly applied the statute of limitations, a federal appeals court has reinstated the racketeering convictions of two retired New York City police detectives who allegedly simultaneously worked as “mob assassins” while they were on the force.

In that role, they allegedly participated in at least eight murders: “They were accused of helping the Luchese crime family arrange eight killings from February 1986 to November 1992, including the slaying of Gambino soldier Edward Lino of Fort Salonga, a close associate of the late John Gotti,” reports Newsday.

Although District Judge Jack Weinstein found there was “overwhelming evidence” of their guilt in what the New York Times describes as “one of the most spectacular cases of police corruption in city history,” he reversed the jury convictions two years ago of Louis Eppolito, now 60, and Stephen Caracappa, 66.

That was because the racketeering conspiracy in which they were charged had ended, Weinstein found, when the two highly decorated detectives retired from the police force and other co-conspirators were arrested. Although other alleged acts in furtherance of the conspiracy occurred after that, the judge essentially determined they were too minor and occasional to be considered part of the same scheme, the Times explains. Hence, a five-year statute of limitations barred the prosecution.

However, Weinstein’s view of the criminal enterprise was too restrictive, writes Judge Amalya Kearse in yesterday’s opinion of the three-judge 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel, which reinstated the racketeering conspiracy convictions.

Attorney Joseph Bondy, who represents Eppolito, says his client will appeal and predicts the case may be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. Caracappa is represented by Daniel Noble, who didn’t return Newsday phone calls.

The two in all likelihood will now spend the rest of their lives in prison, if the convictions stand, according to the Times, because Weinstein gave them, but did not then impose, life terms when they were initially convicted in 2006.

“Eppolito, whose father was a member of the Gambino crime family, retired from the NYPD in 1990. He played a bit part in Martin Scorsese’s 1990 mob drama GoodFellas and launched an unsuccessful career as a screenwriter,” recounts the Associated Press.

“Caracappa retired in 1992 after establishing the police department’s unit for mob murder investigations.”

The two remain in custody, because Weinstein refused to grant them bail even after he reversed their racketeering conspiracy convictions. Had his views on the scope of the alleged conspiracy been upheld on appeal, Eppolito and Caracappa still would have had to stand trial on drug and money-laundering charges, the AP notes.

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