dailynews

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BY JOHN MARZULLI
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

Friday, October 19th 2007, 4:00 AM
Mafia cop Louis Eppolito has shed more than 100 pounds in prison, but more importantly may soon be losing federal racketeering charges as well.

“He’s thinner than when I married him. He looks real good,” wife Fran Eppolito crowed Thursday outside the U.S. Court of Appeals in lower Manhattan about her once 300-pound husband.

Inside the courthouse, three judges expressed reservations about the government’s argument to reinstate the murder convictions of Eppolito and his NYPD partner Stephen Caracappa.

A federal jury convicted the corrupt detectives of eight gangland murders and betraying their badge for the Luchese crime family’s former underboss Anthony (Gaspipe) Casso.

But last year, Brooklyn Federal Court Judge Jack Weinstein reversed their convictions on a legal technicality, though the two remain jailed pending the outcome of the government’s appeal.

“I’m very positive,” Fran Eppolito said. “I’m going to tell him I was very pleased with our lawyer’s argument.”

Added daughter Andrea: “I will be an advocate for my father till the day I die.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mitra Hormozi came under sharp questioning by federal appeals judges Amalya Kearse and Robert Sack about whether the five-year statute of limitations on the racketeering conspiracy had expired.

Hormozi explained that the Mafia cops’ recent drug dealing and money-laundering activities in Las Vegas – where they had moved after retiring from the NYPD – was a continuation of their earlier criminal enterprise.

“I don’t see the relationship of what getting designer drugs to impress a client has to do with the dreadful things they were doing in the ’80s,” Sack said.

Eppolito will remain on what his wife calls the “incarceration diet” as he awaits a ruling.

If the reversal is upheld, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes is expected to bring state murder charges against the dirty duo. His top investigator, Joseph Ponzi, attended yesterday’s hearing.

Leah Greenwald, whose husband, Israel, was kidnapped and slain by the Mafia cops, also came to the hearing.

“I will not stop until they are convicted because they are murderers,” she said.

jmarzulli@nydailynews.com.