Dispatches from mob trial.

Notes from different corners of the world.
March 17 2006 3:27 PM

Dispatches From a Mob Trial

Anatomy of a Mafia mole.

(Continued from Page 2)

While the once burly, now fat Eppolito remained a precinct detective, the thin, mustachioed Caracappa was assigned to a joint NYPD-FBI task force, where he was privy to much better information. Informants within the mob like John "Otto" Heidel were unmasked and rubbed out. Others, like Anthony Dilapi, who'd evaded Casso's dictates, were found and murdered as well.

It all went fairly smoothly until the feds came looking for Casso and Amuso in 1990. Kaplan got advance word, tipped them off about their impending arrests, and they both ran. Casso was on the lam for two and a half years. In 1993, the FBI found Casso living in New Jersey. That was inevitable. But the shocker came a year later, when Kaplan got a call that Casso had fired his lawyer and "gone bad."

Advertisement

"How did that make you feel?" asked Robert Henoch, the assistant U.S. attorney. "Sick," Kaplan testified. "If anyone in the world was a stand-up guy I thought it would be him." He also testified: "I knew how many bodies that he had," and he felt that the government wouldn't "take a guy like Casso who had so much baggage unless he could give them something spectacular back," meaning the crooked detectives.

Kaplan hid out in Vegas for a few years, but by 1996 he felt safe enough to return to Brooklyn. He was, however, arrested soon after and convicted for marijuana smuggling. Throughout all his arrests and his whole life, Kaplan testified that he had refused many offers to turn. And when in 1998 he was sentenced to 27 years, it was the same deal.

But in 2004, with the investigation of the detectives heating up again, he changed his mind. Kaplan wanted to get out of jail and spend some time with his grandson, since Judge Kaplan had adopted a baby in Russia. But the big reason he finally flipped, he insists, was something else: "I felt that once nine years had passed, plus three that I was on the lam and I seen a lot of things happening in New York with guys rolling," he testified. "I felt that Steve and Louie were going to be indicted [on state charges] and if they were indicted in the state I felt that one or both of them would make a deal and I would be the defendant."

With one card left to play—and most of his old friends dead, missing, or in jail—Kaplan finally took his fate into his own hands and became a witness instead. "It was a very hard decision," he said.

Dan Ackman is a lawyer and journalist based in Jersey City, N.J.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Irritating Confidante

John Dickerson on Ben Bradlee’s fascinating relationship with John F. Kennedy.

My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

The All The President’s Men Scene That Captured Ben Bradlee

Medical Examiner

Is It Better to Be a Hero Like Batman?

Or an altruist like Bruce Wayne?

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

The World’s Human Rights Violators Are Signatories on the World’s Human Rights Treaties

How Punctual Are Germans?

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 21 2014 11:40 AM The U.S. Has Spent $7 Billion Fighting the War on Drugs in Afghanistan. It Hasn’t Worked. 
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 1:12 PM George Tiller’s Murderer Threatens Another Abortion Provider, Claims Right of Free Speech
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
  Arts
Behold
Oct. 21 2014 12:05 PM Same-Sex Couples at Home With Themselves in 1980s America
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 21 2014 4:14 PM Planet Money Uncovers One Surprising Reason the Internet Is Sexist
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.