NEW YORK – Two former police detectives accused of moonlighting as killers for the Mafia (search) walked free on $5 million bail each Thursday as a defense lawyer said he would seek dismissal of the charges.
Prosecutors allege that former partners Louis Eppolito (search) and Stephen Caracappa (search) lived double lives as hitmen for the mob, gunning down, kidnapping and tracking down rivals of a Lucchese family underboss for tens of thousands of dollars.
A Brooklyn federal judge dealt the prosecution a blow earlier this month when he said that the statute of limitations may have run out on the murder charges and called the accusations "relatively stale."
Eppolito's attorney, Bruce Cutler, said Thursday that he was preparing to ask the judge to dismiss the charges and was optimistic that he would succeed.
Eppolito left the courthouse Thursday evening with a grin, declaring his innocence and his hunger for a plate of macaroni.
"I feel fantastic," he said. "I've always held my head up high and always plan to. That's how I was raised."
The former veteran detectives are charged with taking $4,000 a month in the 1980s to feed confidential information from the New York Police Department's Organized Crime Homicide Unit to Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, an underboss in the Lucchese family.
Casso used the information to take out enemies, eliminate informants and dodge investigations, prosecutors said.
The detectives received additional payments for "extra work" that included gunning down a Gambino family captain in his car and kidnapping a man Casso suspected of trying to assassinate him, according to filings in the case.
Casso, who said he tortured the man to death, later began cooperating with investigators building the case against his alleged henchmen.
Eppolito, who turns 57 on Friday, and Caracappa, 63, were arrested in March in Las Vegas, where they had retired together. They had been held since then in the Brooklyn federal jail's segregated housing unit.