Civil Rights Attorneys Call on New York City Police to End Decades-Long

Culture of Corruption



July 30, 2015



Nick Brustin, Neufeld, Scheck and Brustin: 212.965.9081

Ben Brafman, Brafman & Associates: (212) 750-7800

Catherine Bright, Fenton, 917.496.9166

(New York, NY) — In a settlement announced today, the City of New York has agreed to pay $5 million to the family of Israel Greenwald, a diamond dealer from Queens who was murdered by notorious “mafia cops” Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, and whose body remained hidden until 2005, almost two decades after his disappearance.

“Israel Greenwald’s widow and daughters suffered not only the loss of their loved one, but the nightmare of 19 years spent not knowing why he disappeared or if he would ever return,” said Nick Brustin, a partner with the civil rights law firm of Neufeld, Scheck and Brustin, based in New York. “The responsibility for this tragedy lies squarely with NYPD officials who, to this day, continue to defend corrupt cops and perpetuate a culture of lying.”

Eppolito and Caracappa are currently serving multiple life sentences for a series of murders committed while they were NYPD detectives, of which Israel Greenwald’s was the first. During the course of the case, attorneys with Neufeld, Scheck and Brustin uncovered further evidence that the NYPD’s top commanders, including then-Commissioner Ben Ward, knew Eppolito was using his police authority on behalf of the mafia well before the spate of murders began in 1986. At a disciplinary hearing before any of the murders, Eppolito was cleared of mafia-related misconduct and restored to duty without penalty.

Through this lawsuit, attorneys for the Greenwald family discovered that at the time of the hearing, the NYPD actually had clear, overwhelming evidence that Eppolito had fed mafia bosses classified information, and, instead of disciplining him, buried it. Eppolito was restored to duty without penalty and subsequently promoted out of turn. Following this sham hearing, Eppolito and Caracappa went on to commit at least eight murders over the course of five years, from spring 1986 to the fall of 1990.

“The NYPD’s inexplicable failure to discipline Eppolito in 1985 when he was caught red-handed passing confidential police documents to Rosario Gambino clearly gave Eppolito confidence that he was essentially untouchable,” added Ben Brafman, Principal of Brafman & Associates.

In February 1986, Eppolito and Caracappa were hired by Burt Kaplan to murder Israel Greenwald – a religious man with no criminal record or ties to the Mafia – whom they suspected of cooperating with an FBI investigation. Eppolito, Caracappa, and Eppolito’s cousin followed Greenwald’s car on the highway and pulled him over using flashing lights. They told Greenwald that he was a suspect in a hit-and-run investigation and that they needed to take him to the station for a line-up. Instead of taking Greenwald to the station, they murdered him in a Brooklyn garage and buried his body. Greenwald’s car was found at JFK Airport several weeks after his death, and his body was eventually recovered from the garage in April 2005, 19 years after his disappearance. The fee for the murder was $30,000.

At the time of their father’s disappearance, Israel Greenwald’s two daughters were nine and seven years old. The family owned their home in Far Rockaway where both girls did well in school, supported by a mother who worked part-time as a teacher and a doting father whose work as a diamond dealer provided the bulk of the family’s financial stability. Following Israel Greenwald’s death, the stress on the two daughters resulted in catastrophic declines in their grades at school and a constant state of stress and fear.

In a statement, the Greenwald daughters said:

“Losing a father at a young age is tragic. Losing a father in this manner, where he disappeared one day into thin air never to return, where there was no grave and no closure, is nothing short of horrific. Our childhood and security were stolen from us when our father was kidnapped, murdered, and his body hidden.

This settlement will never make up for those long painful years of our lives or quiet the nightmares that still haunt us as adults. It will never give us back the father who was taken from us. But it will help restore our faith that in the end, the losses we experienced are acknowledged and addressed by those responsible.

We are grateful to attorney Ben Brafman and the legal team at Neufeld, Scheck and Brustin and who all worked tirelessly and passionately on our behalf to address a wrong that for so long went unanswered.”

The case is Greenwald, et al. v. City of New York, et al., No. 06-CV-2864; The Greenwalds were represented by Nick Brustin and Emma Freudenberger, partners with Neufeld, Scheck and Brustin, and Ben Brafman, Principal of Brafman & Associates assisted by Saul Bienenfeld.