September 28, 2006 — The truth has set him free.
Stool pigeon Burton Kaplan, the key witness against mob cops Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, was sprung from prison yesterday after serving just over nine years of a 27-year sentence for dealing tons of marijuana.
Brooklyn federal Judge Jack Weinstein commuted the prison stint for Kaplan, who was the go-between for the ex-NYPD detectives and Luchese crime-family boss Anthony “Gaspipe” Casso, as part of a deal for his cooperation.
“His information led to the resolution of eight murder investigations,” said prosecutor Robert Henoch, who had nothing but praise for the detailed information Kaplan, 72, offered – which Henoch said was “excruciatingly corroborated.”
“His memory was astounding,” Henoch said, noting that Kaplan helped investigators uncover evidence that the cops were acting as paid Mafia moles and hit men while wearing their shields.
Neither Kaplan’s wife nor daughter, Manhattan state Supreme Court Judge Deborah Kaplan, were in court yesterday because Kaplan feared for their safety, according to his lawyer Michael Gold.
“I know words cannot change my crimes,” Kaplan told Weinstein. “My only concern was my own selfish motives of not wanting to get caught.”
The judge released Kaplan, who pleaded guilty in March 2005 to charges stemming from the crooked cops’ case, on $2 million bail while he awaits sentencing for those crimes.
Eppolito and Caracappa were convicted in April, but Weinstein overturned the jury conviction on a legal technicality.
The pair are on 23-hour-a-day lockdown in a federal prison in Brooklyn while prosecutors appeal Weinstein’s decision.