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Ex-N.Y. cops plead not guilty to hit men charges

New York
Organized Crime

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Two former New York City police detectives accused of being hit men for the Mafia more than 20 years ago pleaded not guilty at their Brooklyn federal court arraignment Thursday on charges that included murder, drug distribution and money laundering.

According to an indictment from a federal grand jury in Brooklyn, Stephen Caracappa and Louis Eppolito routinely passed confidential law enforcement information to the mob and killed rival gangsters.

"Caracappa and Eppolito directly participated in, or aided and abetted, eight murders, two attempted murders, one murder conspiracy, several instances of obstruction of justice, drug distribution and money laundering," the government alleges.

Both men appeared in Brooklyn federal court in prison uniforms and nodded to their families sitting inside the packed courtroom.

The U.S. government alleges that the men's association with organized crime began in the early 1980s, when they started passing along information to high-ranking members and associates of the Luchese crime family, disclosing the identities of numerous cooperating witnesses and compromising several state and federal investigations.

Caracappa was a member of the New York Police Department's Organized Crime Homicide Unit, which he helped found.

Eppolito is the author of a book titled "Mafia Cop." In the autobiography, he describes how he turned away from the "family business" to become what he described as one of the police department's most-decorated officers. Eppolito has had small roles in several films, including the 1990 mob feature "GoodFellas," in which he played "Fat Andy."

Roslynn Mauskopf, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, has described the men's actions as "a stunning betrayal of their shields, their colleagues and the citizens they were sworn to protect."

Andrea Eppolito, Louis Eppolito's daughter, spoke to reporters after the arraignment.

"We're very, very supportive of them and we plan to stand behind them firmly through the duration of this," she said. "My father loved being a cop. He was so proud of all of the things he did while working for this city. He protected women. He protected children. He worked with the elderly. And we are so proud of him for absolutely everything.

"My dad made a vow to protect and serve the people of this city and he did it very, very well. Now it's time that somebody protects and serves him."

The next status hearing for both men is scheduled for June 7.

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