March 6, 2009

“Mafia Cops” Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa were sentenced to life in prison Friday for taking part in eight mob murders.

The sentencing in Brooklyn federal court may end the long legal battle involving the former New York City detectives, who were convicted of murder in April 2006 but had the convictions thrown out on appeal.

The convictions were reinstated in September when a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals voted unanimously that Eppolito and Caracappa were involved in racketeering beyond the crucial statute of limitations date of March 9, 2000.

Relatives of the eight men whose murders were linked to Caracappa and Eppolito showed contempt for the former cops.

Eppolito and Caracappa are “two lowlifes who shot and killed my father,” said Vincent Lino, son of Edward Lino of Fort Salonga, who was killed on the Belt Parkway in November 1992.

“May you have a long life in jail,” Lino said in court. “That’s all I have to say.”

Eppolito and Caracappa said Friday they would appeal again. Eppolito, 61, called the federal case “a complete fabrication.”

“We still have papers that prove our innocence in the case,” said Eppolito, wearing a blue prison jumpsuit. “The federal government can take my life. They can’t take my pride. I never hurt anybody. I never kidnapped anybody. It’s disgusting what happened.”

Security was heavy in the courtroom Friday, and demand for seats was high.

Reltives of the victims were seated first. Reporters sat in a jury box.

A ceremonial courtroom eight floors below the 10th-floor courtroom was used for additional seating, with an audio hook-up allowing visitors to listen to the sentencing.

The eight murders occurred between February 1986 and November 1992. Prosecutors said Eppolito and Caracappa carried out some of the murders themselves. They arranged or assisted in several killings committed by others, prosecutors said.

In one case of mistaken identity, incorrect information provided by Caracappa and Eppolito led to the murder of Nicholas Guido outside his Brooklyn home on Christmas Day 1986, prosecutors said.

Speaking in court before the sentence was handed down, Yael Greenwald Perlman read a three-page letter she addressed to her father, Israel Greenwald, who was killed in a Brooklyn garage in February 1986.

“I do not wish to spend these next few minutes addressing cold-blooded killers that are beneath our contempt and undeserving of receiving even one second of our attention,” Perlman said.

She remembered her father staying up all night with her when she suffered from the flu. He was killed the next day, she said.

“Daddy, when I think of you I am not thinking as an adult but rather as a little girl of 7 who was thrown into the absolute terror of her father being missing and desperately waiting for her daddy,” Perlman said.

“Mommy could never bring herself to tell us that you are most likley dead,” Perlman said. ” … As we got older, we realized that you would not be coming home. After 20 years, we finally know the truth. There’s still so much pain, and words that need to be said.”

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