By MURRAY WEISS Criminal Justice Editor

Leah Greenwald says she struggled to survive with her two young daughters after her young husband, Israel, vanished.

Now, 20 years later, the Greenwalds are battling another disturbing reality: that two reputed “Mafia cops” may have been involved in his abduction and murder.

“We were happy to finally have some closure when his body was found, but we were shocked at who they said might be responsible,” Leah said in her first interview since her diamond-dealer husband’s remains were unearthed in a Flatbush, Brooklyn, parking garage in April.

“We simply hope that justice will be served and our questions answered,” she said. “My husband was a good man, a good father, and he did not deserve to be killed and buried and never experience his daughters’ lives.”

Israel Greenwald, 33, left his home Feb. 10, 1986 – his 11th wedding anniversary – and, according to the testimony of mob rat Burton Kaplan, was pulled over by a police car allegedly driven by then-Detectives Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa. They brought the slender jeweler to the parking garage, where he was shot by Eppolito’s cousin Frank Santora and buried beneath concrete, authorities say.

According to court testimony, Greenwald was used as a middle man by another jeweler to take a stolen negotiable bond to Europe, where it was cashed.

Sources say he “may have been duped” and is “basically innocent.”
When the mob learned the feds were investigating, they decided Greenwald was a weak link who had to go. His family remembered their last moments together as if it were yesterday, providing a snapshot into a joyous Queens household filled with whimsy and love.

“We had a monkey,” one daughter, Michelle, now a graphics designer and mother of three, recalled, explaining how her father brought the primate home because she once said she’d like one as a pet.

Her last memory of her father was him chasing the monkey with a local magician who wanted to borrow the pet for a children’s show.

“I just remember saying, ‘Goodbye, Dad,’ and heading off to catch the school bus and leaving him and the magician chasing the monkey,” she said.

For years, Leah worked numerous jobs day and night, doing everything from selling health products to soliciting advertisements to scrape together enough to save her home – without life insurance or other death benefits.

Finally, she was forced to give up nearly everything, moving with her daughters from one apartment to another – including one just a block from where her husband was buried.

But she points to her daughters and says, “It was worth it.”

“Our life was completely unsettled. I used to say my life was hell on earth and unusual,” she said.

Right down to who may have killed her husband.