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Gary Younge
GoodFellas undercover cop accused of mafia murders

According to US prosecutors Louis Eppolito, the author of Mafia Cop: The Story of an Honest Cop whose Family Was the Mob, and his former partner Stephen Caracappa were on the mafia payroll, using their police identities to work for the Luchese crime family.

"In a stunning betrayal of their shields, their colleagues and the citizens they were sworn to protect, Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa secretly worked on the payroll of the mob while they were members of the NYPD," said US attorney Roslynn Mauskopf at a news conference in Brooklyn.

The charges included using an unmarked police car to pull over Eddie Lino, a mafia captain from the Gambino family in Brooklyn and shooting him to death, for which they were paid $65,000 (£33,750). In another they were paid $35,000 to kidnap a Gambino man, James Hydell, put him in the boot of their car and take him to a rival Luchese family underboss Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso who then tortured and killed him. At one stage they were being paid $4,000 (£1,900) a month.

The two men, both retired, are neighbours in a gated community in Las Vegas. They were arrested on Wednesday at an Italian restaurant. Mr Caracappa, 63, who retired in 1992 after working in a police unit that investigated mob murders, is now a private investigator.

Mr Eppolito, 56, who retired in 1990, co-wrote a book about his life as a police officer with family ties to the mob - his father was called Fats the Gangster and his uncle was known as Jimmy the Clam. He now gets small roles in movies, most of which involve gangster violence. He has per formed minor parts in 11 films including GoodFellas, in which he played Fat Andy in a minor role, and Predator 2 in which he plays a patrolman.

They were charged with racketeering conspiracy, which covers their roles in two attempted murders, money laundering and disclosing the identity of six cooperating witnesses, three of whom were murdered.

In 1985 Mr Eppolito was cleared of charges that he sold information to the mob. Both men were again investigated by the FBI 10 years ago but the informant was discredited. Now a new informant has come forward who has provided the police with enough evidence to convince a grand jury to indict them. If found guilty they face life in prison.

Mr Eppolito's lawyer, Richard Schonfeld, told the New York Times that his client "absolutely denies the charges". Edward Hayes, the lawyer who represented Mr Caracappa back in 1994, told the Times he was shocked by the charges.

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