Louis Eppolito and Steven Caracappa, two decorated NYPD detective who were found guilty of racketeering as they moonlighted as hitmen and informants for the Luchese crime family, were sentenced to life in prison yesterday. And the racketeering charges cover "eight murders, kidnapping, drug dealing and obstruction of justice." Judge Jack Weinstein said, "This is probably the most heinous series of crimes ever tried in this courthouse," but is delaying sentencing to see if Eppolito and Caracappa need new trials - both detectives claimed they received ineffective defense. Hmm, they did have two high-profile criminal defense attorneys, but maybe Eppolito's defense lawyer, Bruce Cutler (whom Eppolito later fired), took his "bebopping" during the closing too far.
The family members of victims addressed the court. Michael Weinstein, whose father Israel Greenwald was killed 20 years ago when she was just 10, said, "You took away our Daddy and by doing that you took away our childhood. You took away our mother. You stole our innocence. You filled our nights with nightmares and our days with torture." And then Barry Gibbs yelled from the gallery, interrupting proceedings. Gibbs is a post worker who was put away for a Brooklyn murder 20 years ago, but freed after it turned out Eppolito had "induced" a witness to pick Gibbs out of a line-up. Gibbs was helped by Barry Scheck and the Innocence Project.
Eppolito, for his part, did speak to the press after the sentencing: "I know the feeling of every family here today, I know how they feel inside their gut," he said. "I would invite [the victims' family members] to visit me in jail.... I think I would prove to them I didn't hurt anybody ever. If I can't convince you, then I'll apologize." That Eppolito is quite the grandstander - we can't imagine that any family member would want to see him, unless they could spit in his face.