April 16th, 2005 TOM HAYS
Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — Investigators believe human remains unearthed at a Brooklyn parking lot are that of a missing diamond dealer killed by two police detectives accused of being hit men for the mob, law enforcement officials said Friday.

The officials tentatively identified the victim as Israel Greenwald, who disappeared in 1986 after leaving home for work in Manhattan’s Diamond District.

Authorities suspect the mob hired the detectives _ Louis Eppolito and his former partner, Stephen Caracappa _ to kill Greenwald, 34, amid fears he was cooperating in an investigation of the Luchese organized crime family, said law enforcement officials, speaking on condition of anonymity.

An attorney for his family, Benjamin Brafman, described him Friday as an unwitting participant in an illegal money transaction. He declined to elaborate further.

Greenwald would be the ninth person identified as victims of Eppolito and Caracappa. Prosecutors allege the men were paid thousands of dollars a month to moonlight as Mafia hit men who kidnapped and killed at least eight rival gangsters in the 1980s and early 1990s.

An informant directed the FBI to the parking lot where Greenwald’s skeletal remains were discovered on April 1. Found with the body was a travel document with the letters ”Green” still legible, one of the officials said.

The medical examiner has not completed forensic tests to confirm the identity and cause of death.

Eppolito, 56, and Caracappa, 63, were arrested last month in Las Vegas, where they had retired. They are to be arraigned next week in Brooklyn federal court on charges including murder, drug distribution and money laundering. Both have denied any wrongdoing..