Feds: NYPD Cops Were Mafia Hitmen

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Two retired police detectives living in Las Vegas led double lives as Mafia hitmen while on the force and gave confidential information to the mob for more than a decade, federal prosecutors charged.

One of the suspects, Louis Eppolito (search), wrote an autobiography titled "Mafia Cop: The Story of an Honest Cop Whose Family Was the Mob," which dealt with, among other things, what he said were false charges of Mafia involvement.

He and his former partner, Stephen Caracappa (search), were arrested Wednesday night at a restaurant off the Las Vegas Strip, law enforcement officials said Thursday. The pair have been living in Las Vegas since retiring in the early 1990s.

Each is charged with eight murders, two attempted murders, murder conspiracy, obstruction of justice, drug distribution and money laundering.

"These corrupt former detectives betrayed their shields, their colleagues, and the citizens they were sworn to protect," U.S. Attorney Roslynn Mauskopf (search) said.

The pair appeared late Thursday in federal court in Las Vegas but did not enter pleas. The hearing was postponed until Friday.

Outside court, Caracappa's lawyer David Chesnoff accused the government of using "organized crime figures who are trying to save their lives" to build their case.

"The government is relying on the words of rats," he said.

Family members declined to comment.

According to court documents, Eppolito, 56, and Caracappa, 63, targeted several mobsters in retaliation for the attempted assassination of Luchese family (search) underboss Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso (search).

In 1987, the detectives kidnapped a mob figure, stuffed him in a car trunk and delivered him to Casso, who tortured and killed him, prosecutors said.

Eppolito and Caracappa also allegedly took $65,000 from Casso in 1992 to kill Eddie Lino (search), a Gambino family (search) captain suspected of involvement in the attempt on Casso's life.

The detectives followed Lino from a Brooklyn social club, pulled him over and shot him to death, prosecutors charged.

In addition, the detectives were accused of accessing police files to give mob associates the names of three confidential informants who were slain for their cooperation with police, prosecutors said. Another informant was shot but survived.

Eppolito, the grandson, son and nephew of Mafia members, became known in the 1970s and '80s as much for his suspected ties to the mob as his rough-and-tumble arrests of street thugs. In his 1992 autobiography, he described his family background and decorated career, while rebutting the mob allegations.

Caracappa, who helped found the New York Police Department's Organized Crime Homicide Unit, was a gatekeeper of information about Mafia killings investigated by police.

The two men had been suspected of Mafia involvement for more than a decade, but authorities did not have the evidence to make a case against them. Court documents indicate prosecutors now have wiretapped conversations and the testimony of witnesses.