Nov. 6 2006

By SUSAN EDELMAN
031306MOBCOPS2WM

November 5, 2006 — The star witness against the two accused Mafia cops ratted them out after being told he would rot in prison while the young son of his only daughter, a judge, would grow up without the guidance of his gangster grandpa, a new book says.

Investigators got Burton Kaplan, 72, to “flip” against crooked NYPD detectives Stephen Caracappa and Louis Eppolito by reminding him of the little boy that Deborah Kaplan, now a Manhattan Criminal Court judge, had adopted from Russia.

“Your daughter would like her son to be able to know his grandfather, for you to teach him how to be a man,” NYPD investigator William Oldham told Kaplan.

Oldham tells the story in his book with journalist Guy Lawson, “The Brotherhoods: The True Story of Two Cops who Murdered for the Mafia,” which comes out Nov. 28.

“You’re going to die in jail without ever touching him. You’re choosing the fat guy and the skinny guy [Eppolito and Caracappa] over your only grandson’s chance to know his grandfather.”

The words struck a soft spot with the hardened drug dealer. “She brings him up to visit sometimes,” he told the investigator.

Kaplan, who had first insisted, “I ain’t no rat,” went on to give damning testimony on how he passed the cops instructions from Luchese underboss Anthony “Gaspipe” Casso to carry out killings.

A jury convicted the cops of racketeering and murder, but the verdict was tossed out on a technicality this year. Federal prosecutors are appealing, and Kaplan, in a prison witness-protection program, could be called to testify in a retrial.

The book does not explain how Kaplan’s daughter became a respected lawyer and judge, while her dad ended up being sentenced to 27 years for marijuana trafficking, but says: “Burt didn’t just love his daughter, he felt a duty toward her.”

The Post has reported that Deborah enjoyed a pampered youth as her daddy’s “princess,” while thugs frequented their family home in Bensonhurst. Casso attended her lavish Long Island wedding in 1985.

Kaplan’s right-hand man, Thomas Galpine, who also ratted in court, did handyman work for Deborah and her husband, who borrowed money from Burt to finish law school.

Deborah issued a statement last year that she was “deeply saddened to learn of the conduct attributed to my father.”

Additional reporting by Brad Hamilton

susan.edelman@nypost.com.