March 11, 2022

The Mafia Cops Eppolito and Caracappa

The Mafia Cops Eppolito and Caracappa
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The Mafia Cops

Louis Eppolito was practically born into the Mafia.

His father was a Gambino family soldier known as Fat the Gangster. An uncle known as Jimmy the Clam, a grandfather and a cousin were made men, too. By age 10, Louis was joining his father on his bookmaking rounds.

A life in organized crime seemed preordained, but Louis’s interest faded after several relatives were killed by rival gangsters. So after graduating from high school, Louis went in a different direction: he joined the New York Police Department.

It was an unlikely career that earned him many medals and headlines. But Mr. Eppolito would end up at the center of one of the biggest scandals in department history.

He and a fellow detective, Stephen Caracappa, were convicted in 2006 of moonlighting as mob assassins, involved in eight gangland slayings while on the payroll of Anthony Casso, a Luchese crime family underboss known as Gaspipe.

Mr. Eppolito, 71, died on Nov. 3 at a hospital in Tucson, Ariz., his wife, Frances Ann Eppolito, confirmed this week, without providing a cause. He had been serving a life sentence at the high-security United States penitentiary nearby.

After their arrest, Mr. Eppolito and Mr. Caracappa, who died at a medical detention facility in 2017 at 75, became widely known as the “Mafia Cops.” The nickname came easily: Mr. Eppolito had already written a memoir, “Mafia Cop: The Story of an Honest Cop Whose Family Was the Mob” (1992), in which he recounted his mob pedigree.

Louis John Eppolito was born on July 22, 1948, in Brooklyn and grew up in East Flatbush, according to the memoir. His father, Ralph, was a professional criminal. His mother, Theresa, was a registered nurse.

Mr. Eppolito knew by the time he was 12 that his father killed people for pay, he acknowledged on Sally Jessy Raphael’s talk show in 1992 while promoting his book. But he did not know details. The following exchange, he said, was typical.

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“If I said to him, ‘What happened to this guy?’ He’d say ‘He had to go.’”

“Go where, Dad? Where did he go? To St. Louis?”

“No. He’s gone.”

According to “Mafia Cop,” Ralph Eppolito beat his son often, but also instilled in him a lifelong respect for “honor and loyalty.”

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