Louis Eppolito & Stephen Caracappa have always maintained their innocence, claiming that they are the fall guys cast in an intricate, elaborate conspiracy designed by the FBI to protect one of their own.
Conspiracy theories are the sexy side of the case. They intrigue like a well written movie, but are notoriously difficult to prove.
Government Documents, 302 Statements, FBI Reports, and even the book "Friends of the Family" written by Tommy Dades and Mike Vecchione (the investigator and DA credited with breaking the case) fully support the conspiracy theory.
The Conspiracy to Discredit Anthony Casso
At first glance, it appears to all that this case is about Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, two rouge cops that sold their badges to the mafia. In truth, this case has nothing to do with either Detective, and everything to do with discrediting and burying the testimony of Anthony Casso, the one man capable of exposing the Federal Agent actually responsible for these crimes.
The late 1980s and early 1990's presented new challenges to La Cosa Nostra. Fighting between the families, murder, and uncontrollable press threatened the secrecy and sanctity of the Five Families. Despite rules against drug trafficking, more and more made men were earning money through the sale of narcotics. Sentencing guidelines were stiff, and used by the government as leverage, encouraging mafia associates to become government informants in exchange for reduced sentences.
Anthony Casso "flipped" and became a cooperating witness for the F.B.I. during an interesting time in Mafia history. The information he gave to the FBI did two things which made him an undesirable witness:
A. He gave the name of the F.B.I. Agent that was providing him with confidential information, for which he was paying $4,000 through Al D'Arco.
B. His testimony directly contradicted Sammy "The Bull" Gravano's testimony.
Implicating an F.B.I. Agent is bad, but the larger problem was contradiction of Gravano's statements. Gravano was instrumental in not only the arrest and conviction of John Gotti, but numerous other made members of the mafia. If anything Gravano testified to, including his alleged non-involvement in drug trafficking, was proved to be a lie then his entire testimony would have to be stricken from the record, thus leading to the release of numerous members of Organized Crime.
The F.B.I. fed Casso a statement and told him what to say and fed him his testimony in an effort to get around these issues. However, they were never able to truly trust the Casso would maintain his testimony. Fearful of the repercussions of the truth, the Federal Government reneged on their agreement and buried him in super-max facilities, portraying him as a liar and psychopath, and stating that nothing he says could be considered truthful.
Let's think about this...
Anthony Casso is a liar. He can't be trusted. Nothing he says is truthful or valid in any respect.
So then how and why does the Government use his alleged original statements as the blueprint for investigating Eppolito and Caracappa?
Is it not convenient that the investigation only takes place after John Gotti is dead, and when none of the other major players that Gravano testified against are important?
In recent court filings, the government states that Anthony Casso's deal with the Feds fell apart because he is a liar and unreliable witness, but they state that they are in no way implying that he was lying about Eppolito and Caracappa.
The Federal Government cannot have it both ways. Anthony Casso cannot be a liar or a truth teller intermitantly, based solely on the government's whims and intentions at that time.
If Anthony Casso is so unreliable, and if his testimony and 302 statements are inconsequential due to his lies, then why is the Federal Government so concerned about keeping his statements hidden? Why have the repeatedly refused to provide copies of his statements to defense council? Why ask the Court for a gag order with regards to his conference call with the defense? And why hold back numerous letters he sent to Mark Feldman during the course of the Mafia Cops case?
The truth is simple and clear.
The Federal Government has buried Anthony Casso to protect one of their own from being implicated in selling secrets to the Mafia, and the preserve the indictments and convictions they secured in the late 80's and early 90's.
Hard to believe? See for yourself...
Only here can you read one of several letters that Anthony Casso sent in support of the alleged Mafia Cops, the telephone transcript in which he outlines the conspiracy to frame Eppolito and Caracappa, and the United States Attorney's request to Judge Weinstein to keep the details of the call from ever entering into the public record.
Casso's True Story is Corroborated by Another Individual
The truth is, Anthony Casso was fed the names Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa by the Federal Government, and he gave whatever statements he gave in an effort to secure a sentencing deal. Anthony Casso used his wife, along with Burt Kaplan's wife, to relay messages and establish what they felt would be a credible story. Visitation logs prove that the wives were making trips to each facility, seeing Casso and Kaplan separately.
This theory is proven and further illuminated by an inmate who coincidentally did time with both Casso and Kaplan.
Inmates will come together and talk, often times telling stories of things they did on the outside, bragging about their crimes, and discussing their plans to get out of prison. Casso and Kaplan were no different. Jailhouse snitches have been known to come forward and assist law enforcement in securing convictions and indictments when someone provides information and details about a crime that have not been released to the press, and that could only be known by the perpetrator.
What is less common and highly unheard of is a jailhouse snitch coming forward with information that dismantles a case against someone. But that is just what happened here.
Not long after the Mafia Cop arrests were made, an inmate by the name of Raymond Oechsle wrote a letter claiming to have information about how, and why, Anthony Casso and Burton Kaplan were framing Eppolito and Caracappa. Having done time with both Casso and Kaplan, Oechsle can provide details about the Eddie Lino murder that he received from Casso, as well as on the conspiracy to frame the cops.
His story was investigated and verified by defense attorneys, and yet they never called him to the stand, never questioned him, and his testimony was never shared with the jury. Read his letter below.
The media, instrumental in convicting the two detectives in the court of public opinion, had access to this letter, and yet not one outlet made an effort to fully distribute the information to the public.
Detective Tommy Dades & DA Michael Vecchione
Detective Tommy Dades approached the end of his career as a disgraced cop. His time with the NYPD was plagued with issues, all of his own doing. From a leak causing the death of his confidential informant, Frankie Hydell, to a rape allegation from the girlfriend of one of his perps, and finally to a series of temper related sanctions and an Internal Affairs investigation, Dades decided to put in his papers to avoid being jammed up with anything else and losing his pension.
The one thing that Dades could count on was his long standing friendship with DA Michael Vecchione. Vecchione himself has a history of misconduct, and the two were well paired. In fact, it was Vecchione who decided that Dades would not face charges of rape, or any other misconduct, during his suspension. The two have a history. They "owe" each other, and have worked together to further their own goals.
You talk about a conspiracy...I give you Detective Tommy Dades and his partner in crime, DA Michael Vecchione.
In an effort to salvage some of his reputation, and desperate to make a name for himself in any way possible, Dades begins to comb through his old case files. An admitted "mafia buff" Dades had read Eppolito's autobiography Mafia Cop and was familiar with the accusations levied against Eppolito and Caracappa. He sees an opportunity to open an old case, garner some press for himself, and possibly even make a little money. He partners with Vecchione, who was raised near Eppolito's family and held a life long dislike for him, and the two begin to "build" their case. Furthermore, Vecchione's entire office is corrupt. He has had to remove two female ADA's from cases due to them having inappropriate relationships with members of organized crime. He himself was accused of misconduct, which in at least one occassion prior to 2005 had resulted in the early release of a convicted murderer.
We believe that Dades approached Betty Hydell, the mother of his slain CI, and fed her the story about recognizing Eppolito from a TV show. Armed with this alleged statement he gets the go-ahead to open up the case. And what does he find?
Not much, to tell you the truth. He considers the big break to be the fact that Caracappa ran the name of Nicky Guido, and came up with the address for the Nicky Guido who was killed. But beyond that, Dades doesn't find anything...
Does he find a photo of Eppolito or Caracappa meeting with any organized crime figures? NO
Does he find their names mentioned in any transcripts or 302 conversations with rats? NO
Do their names or voices appear on any audio recordings? NO
Dades and Vecchione work tirelessly to keep the case at a state level. They cannot make it, however, due to a lack of evidence. The Feds swoop in and assume control under the RICO Act, but offering to press forward with the investigation as a "joint venture" between NY State and the Feds.
Suddenly, the case breaks, and the Government does everything it can to separate themselves from Both Dades and Vecchione.
Well, first of all, both men signed a joint book deal, as evident through their tome, Friends of the Family. They also signed a movie deal for $750,000 with Warner Brothers for the rights to their story. Let me ask you this - What kind of justice can be secured, and what amount of truth can you expect, when the investigating officer and the DA have 750,000 reasons to see an indictment and conviction come through.
Dades and Vecchione were so suspect, in fact, that District Attorney Roslynn Mauskoff personally questioned Betty Hydell and asked if her story was a true recounting of her memories, or if she was saying what Dades told her to say. Hydell and Dades were cautioned not to speak before the trial, but met the morning of her testimony anyway.
Dades and Vecchione used Casso's orginal statement, along with the word of a coached Betty Hydell (who had quite a bit to lose as well, see notes on Betty Hydell) in order to create the Mafia Cop case.
After the indictment of the Mafia Cops and during the trial, Vecchione moves forward and indicted F.B.I. Agent Lindsey Del Vecchio for working with the mafia. The trial was to be handled by the judge, without a jury, when suddenly the case fell apart and Vecchione dropping the charges. Why, and how?
Eppolito and Caracappa are accused of selling secrets and conspiring with the mafia. Casso's statements, as well as the statements of others such as D'Arco, state that the leak is an F.B.I. Agent. If Del Vecchio is found guilty, and if he is in fact the agent in question, the Eppolito and Caracappa are innocent.
If Eppolito and Caracappa re innocent, the Feds and the government look very, very stupid.
And, of course, if Eppolito and Caracappa are innocent, Dades and Vecchione lose their book and movie deals, and the two are ultimately more disgraced in the end then when they started.
Dades and Vecchione had all the reason in the world, personally, professionally, and politically to ensure that the Mafia Cops were convicted. And they did so at all costs.
Update: After the Mafia Cop case concluded Dades and Vecchione continue to face challenges. In a drunken rage, Tommy Dades kills a man during a fight. The coroner rules it homocide, but no charges are ever filed. Thank you, Mike Vecchione.
Of course, Vecchione currently is fighting his own battles. Once again, allegations and testimony proving prosecutorial misconduct have resulted in a man being released from prison after 19 years. The judge who rules on the case requested that an investigation into Mike Vecchione be started. The DA's office refused.
The Defense Council Conspiracy: Bruce Cutler
Bruce Cutler was retained by Louis Eppolito, not due to his mafia connections, but due to a 20+ year history that the two had from Bruce's days in the State Prosecutors Office. By all accounts, he had the reputation of being tenacious, thorough, and highly aggressive in the defense of his clients. Furthermore, if you are fighting a RICO Charge and the Federal Government, it makes sense to hire someone who has a proven track record of success in that area.
Upon being retained, Bruce was responsive, flexible, and hands on. He argued for and successfully gained the release from prison and house arrest for Eppolito.
Suddenly, in December of 2005, Cutler's attitude changed dramatically. He argued with Eppolito over the balance of his payment, and over the way in which to defend the case. Cutler was no longer as available via phone, and did not attend all of the planning and strategy meetings. He refused to have Judge Weinstein rule on the case based on the statute of limitations, and would not meet with Eppolito prior to the start of the trial. During the trial, Cutler repeatedly (and admittedly) ignored notes from Eppolito, declined to put up any witnesses, and refused to allow Eppolito to testify on his own behalf. When Anthony Casso's letter was finally revealed by the government, Cutler didn't even go to the conference call to assess what information he had. Instead, he went with Hayes to do an interview with The New Yorker Magazine.
Cutler rested the case without so much as calling one witness. After deliberating and entering a guilty verdict, one member of the jury was quoted as having said that the main reason they convicted was due to the complete lack of defense that was presented.
Eppolito has long said that Cutler sold him out, and failed to provide him with an adequate defense. The family and numerous investigators believe that, for whatever reason, Cutler and Hayes made a deal between themselves and with the government wherein they would purposely throw the case.
Can this secret deal be proved? No. But we wonder...
If Bruce Cutler was so dedicated to the defense of Louis Eppolito, then why did he send a letter to Judge Weinstein and to the prosecution telling them how he would be cross examining Burt Kaplan?
When have you ever heard of a defense attorney writing not only a federal judge about when and how he would be handling a cross examination?
Furthermore, read the letter below very, very carefully. Cutler states "I will not illicit [sic] that Mr. Kaplan was given three polygraph examinations...These circumstances are all relevant to Mr. Kaplan's understanding of his cooperation agreement with the government."
Wait a minute...Cutler knows that Kaplan has taken 3 lie detector tests? And he isn't going to question him about them? WHAT?
And why is he concerned at all about Kaplan's cooperation agreement?
Does this prove a conspiracy? Not completely, no...
But does it raise questions about his loyalty to his client? His ability and willingness to provide Eppolito with the best defense available? Absolutely...
The Defense Council Conspiracy: Ed Hayes
Defense Attorney Ed Hayes' claim to fame was that Tom Wolfe used him as the model for his fictional character of Tommy Killian in his novel, The Bonfire of the Vanities. Hayes began his career as a prosecutor before going into private practice. He earned legal recognition after having settled the estate of the late Andy Warhol. Known more for his flamboyant style of dress and demeanor than anything else, Ed Hayes had a larger than life persona that matched well along side Cutlers.
Stephen Caracappa's family had a connection to Hayes, referring him to Caracappa and making him a natural selection.
Eppolito and Caracappa hired their council separately, at different times, and for different reasons. It wasn't until after both lawyers had been retained that the defendants found out that Cutler and Hayes had a long standing friendship. As a matter of fact, Cutler was "godfather" to one of Hayes' children.
Caracappa repeatedly questioned Hayes with regards to why he and Cutler were not presenting any true defense. Hayes was vague in his answers, and slowly began to pull away from Caracappa as the trial approached and was argued. When Casso came forward with information for the defense Hayes, like Cutler, refused to go participate in the conference call, sending his second chair Bettina Schein instead.
There is no documentation that we have at this time pointing to or directly showing a conspiracy, but look at his action, and inaction, during the course of the trial.
Hayes did not meet with Caracappa immediately prior to the beginning of the trial.
At no time did he ever meet with Caracappa prior to the start of court. He met with Cutler instead.
He did not attend the conference call with Anthony Casso.
And, most interestingly, following the call with Casso, Hayes actually failed to show up to court! He left the state and traveled to Florida to do take a deposition in another case.
Really?!?!? You are lead council in the largest mafia case of our time, you have just received information that could set your client free, and you don't even bother showing up to court?
It may not show a conspiracy, but it most definitely shows depraved indifference to the outcome of the case.
Betty Hydell's Motivation
Dades claims that the Mafia Cop case was broken by Betty Hydell, mother of James Hydell.
Look at Betty Hydell's family history and ties, her actions / inaction, and the relationship she has had with Dades for nearly two decades.
Betty Hydell raised three children: Frankie and Jimmy, both of whom worked in organized crime and were murdered, and a daughter, Elizabeth, who dated a made member of the Gambino crime family. Betty Hydell's brother in law is Danny Marino, the a Capo in the Gambino crime family.
According to the story, Betty Hydell's son tells her that there were two cops looking for him. She drives down the street, sees the officers in a parked car, and tells them to stop bothering her son.
Frankie Hydell is murdered first, followed by Jimmy Hydell. Detective Tommy Dades, Frankie's handler, promises to bring the murders to justice due to the guilt he feels over their deaths, and stays in touch with Betty Hydell over the years, popping in to see her, checking in on the holidays, etc.
In 1994, Betty Hydell supposedly sees an episode of The Sally Show and recognizes Louis Eppolito as one of two detectives who had been looking for her son, Jimmy. According to her, she told someone in the F.B.I. that she recognized the man who was looking for her son, but nothing ever came of it.
Think about that....Betty Hydell, mother of two slain organized crime figures and the sister in law to a Capo in the Gambino crime family calls the F.B.I. Not Detective Tommy Dades, whom she has this long running, trusting relationship with. The F.B.I. And when the F.B.I. fails to act on her "tip" Betty Hydell does...Nothing?
First of all, the idea that Betty Hydell would have a "lead" and call anyone but her friend Tommy Dades is unthinkable. He would have been her first call.
Secondly, and most importantly, what kind of mother sits on that kind of information? If you had a child that was brutally murdered, and you believed that you had information which would lead to the killer, is there anything in the world that would have stopped you from bringing that person to justice? Wouldn't you call everyone and anyone who would listen?
The story simply doesn't make sense.
...Especially when you add in the fact that Betty Hydell took out a $1 Million life insurance policy on her son Jimmy, and a $1 Million life insurance policy on his partner, Robert Berrings.
...Especially when you look at investigation files and see that her daughter Elizabeth was dating a made member of the Gambino Crime Family, and that she relayed information about the attempt on Casso's life to him.
...Especially when you hear that US Attorney Roslynn Mauskoff questioned the legitimacy of her testimony.
Look at the timing of Betty Hydell coming forward. She holds it the alleged information until right after Dades is involved in a sex scandal and decides to put in his papers. He wants to close a case that has haunted him for years, he's a mafia buff, and he needs something to make a big splash so that he isn't the disgraced cop in a sex scandal. Betty Hydell wants to help Dades, but more than that she needs to redirect the focus from her daughter and her brother in law, and possibly assuage some of her own guilt.
In Friends of the Family Tommy Dades recounts Betty Hydell's outrage after having been questioned by US Attorney Roslynn Mauskopf. Mauskopf asks Betty Hydell is the story she is telling is one she truly remembers, or if she is simply saying what Dades has told her to say.
Why would the United States Attorney ever ask this? What would make her accuse a witness of lying?
She must have had really good reason to believe that this story was less than truthful.
Mauskopf tells Betty Hydell that she is not to speak to Tommy Dades until after she testifies in the Mafia Cop case,to preserve the integrity of her testimony. Betty Hydell politely tells Roslynn Mauskopf to go fuck herself.
Dades tells the world that on the day of her testimony, he met with her before she took the stand. Read the book. Page 218.
So, Betty Hydell testifies. She gives statements to the media. She and her daughter "Lizzie" spend their down time trolling chat rooms and giving interviews. She collects the life insurance money taken out on both her son Jimmy and Berrings.
But the big pay out lies in the civil law suit which has been brought against the city of New York by the families of the victims. Civil lawsuits pertaining to the Mafia Cop trial have yielded settlements in the tens of millions.
So why isn't Betty Hydell participating in the law suit again the city of New York?
I'll tell you why...
If either Betty Hydell or her daughter, Elizabeth, take part in a law suit against the city of New York, the defense is entitled to investigate not only the murder of Jimmy Hydell, but the two of them as well. The defense is entitled to all discovery, all historical documentation, and all 302 testimony involving Jimmy Hydell, his history, and his murder.
Imagine what would be uncovered in that search...
1. Documentation showing that Frankie Hydell as a rat. The murderer that Dades swore to bring to justice? The government has implicated Danny Marino, boss and Betty Hydell's brother in law, in that murder.
2. 302 documentation showing that Elizabeth Hydell was the one who gave the name of her brother and his two friends as the shooters of Anthony Casso, thus getting her own brother killed.
3. Questions would be raised about why Betty Hydell took out the insurance policy on her son's life. After all, it isn't natural for parent's to bury their children. And it's less natural for a parent to seek to protect themselves and benefit from a child's death instead of trying to protect them in life.
4. More interesting questions would be raised about why Betty Hydell would be the beneficiary of Robert Berrings' life insurance policy.
Betty Hydell raised two sons and a daughter. Both of her sons were criminals, both killed because they failed to operate within the rules governing their chosen profession. Betty Hydell raised a daughter who dated made men and gossiped about stories she overheard, leading to a chain reaction of events. Betty Hydell's brother in law is a boss, and despite what he may or may not have done, Betty Hydell is loyal to him and seeks to protect her family. Betty Hydell maintains a relationship with a detective. And not just any detective, a detective who routinely investigates and arrests members of organized crime. The same detective whose actions resulted in the murder of her son Frankie.
So what does Betty Hydell do, and why?
Betty Hydell conspires with her good friend Tommy Dades to implicate two detectives in the murder of her son Jimmy. Now, mind you, all she is really doing is resurrecting an old story told by one Anthony Casso, but still, that's enough. She elaborates with little details about an old TV show and a book she read, lamenting the fact that the F.B.I. didn't want to help her. And, of course, she collects her money.
Betty Hydell tells this story for a number of very good reasons:
1. If Eppolito and Caracappa are responsible for the murder of her son, Jimmy, then no one else is. Who is she protecting, and why?
2. If she works with Dades and helps clean up his imagine, she can protect Danny Marino.
3. If two rouge cops killed her son, then he was killed by two terrible people. Not because she raised him to be a rapist, a murderer, and a criminal himself.
4. If Betty Hydell is the grieving mother, then no one will investigate her to see what she knew, and how she knew it.
Something isn't right with Betty Hydell, her relationship with Dades, and her testimony.