If you've ever been interested in the mafia, either the real live mob or the movie kind, Gothamist highly recommends that you follow the trial of former NYPD detectives Stephen Caracappa and Louis Eppolito, who are accused of racketeering (and being involved in eight murders), which is going on in Brooklyn Federal Court right now. The lead witness for the prosecution was a 72 year old convicted pot dealer, another witness said one of the cops used mob money to launch his screenwriting dreams in Hollywood and one of the defendants eats lunch at the Park Place diner - Newsday notes Eppolito likes pastrami on rye with mustard (but who doesn't?). All the local papers have had coverage that goes beyond colorful - it's like you're watching an episode of The Sopranos, only if that were crossed wtih NYPD Blue and The Shield. Today, the NY Times looks at how Eppolito's autobiography, Mafia Cop, is at the center of the trial, since Eppolito comes out seeming like a very "conflicted but ultimately dedicated" (NY Times) police officer as well as an imaginative writer; the Daily News' Denis Hamill mentioned a Mafia Cop quote: "I learned something about myself during that gunfight. I not only had the capacity to kill. I had the capacity to forget about it, to not let it bother me." Huh. [Fitting for this digital age, Pocket Books is offering the Mafia Cop for download on Amazon - and you don't have to feel like you might be supporting a possible murderer, as Eppolito doesn't get any residuals.]

Newsday looks at how Eppolito also managed to make money by writing screenplays of people's lives - for $45,000 - convincing them they could sell it for 3-4 times more money to Hollywood (does caveat emptor work in this case, because a 300-400% return is way "too good to be true"). The Post talks to the the family of a diamond dealer possibly murdered by the pair (it was Israel Greenwald's body that was found under a garage in Brooklyn 9 years after he went missing), but the Daily News reports that the trial could be over in a mistrial, because the charges might not even "hold up legally." If it does go to mistrial, Gothamist wonders if the movie version of the story would make it to theaters (there are screenwriters sniffing out the trial) before another verdict; the Law & Order episode "ripped" from these headlines aired last fall.

New York magazine had an article about Eppolito and Caracappa last year. Also, check out Gangland News, which has been covering the story.