Image: 'Mafia cop' Louis Eppolito
AP file
Former New York City police detective Louis Eppolito exits Brooklyn Federal Court last year.
updated 7/25/2006 2:27:13 PM ET 2006-07-25T18:27:13

Two decorated NYPD detectives were sent back to prison today — just weeks after their convictions for facilitating eight mob murders were overturned.

Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, who were denounced after their convictions in April as the most corrupt cops in city history, had their bail petitions denied by the same federal judge who had overturned their convictions last month.

In denying their bail, U.S. District Court Judge Jack Weinstein said: "The defendants are dangerous criminals with no degree of credibility."

Sensational case
It was a sensational case that seemed wrapped up when guilty verdicts and life sentences were announced earlier this year against two former police detectives accused of being hit men for the mob.

But a stunning ruling last month has made a new scene possible: The portly and talkative Louis Eppolito and his spindly and taciturn former partner, Stephen Caracappa, walking out of jail.

The defendants were due back in court Tuesday, when their lawyers were expected to ask U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein to free them based on his decision to toss out the guilty verdicts against them.

The judge ruled June 30 that while he still believed the pair were guilty, the statute of limitations had expired on the slayings, which occurred between 1986 and 1990.

Papers filed recently by the defense note that Eppolito, 57, and Caracappa, 57, each were out on $5 million bail for nine months before their convictions and return to jail on April 3.

They argue that the similar conditions should apply while they await the outcome of a government appeal of Weinstein’s ruling or — if it’s upheld — a retrial on lesser charges stemming from a 2005 drug sting in Las Vegas, where the partners both had retired.

Image: 'Mafia cop' Stephen Caracappa
AP file
Former New York City police detective Stephen Caracappa enters Brooklyn Federal Court on March 13.
Eppolito “respectfully submits that a reasonable bail pending the highly likely retrial on allegations that he distributed a small quantity of methamphetamine and laundered a small amount of money is appropriate,” his attorney, Joseph Bondy, wrote in a July 21 letter to Weinstein.

Too dangerous to go free?
Prosecutors, calling the evidence that the former NYPD detectives participated in eight murders “overwhelming,” have argued that they are too dangerous to go free.

“The fact that these men, who swore to serve and protect, were so willing to betray the public trust by committing unspeakable acts of violence for money is a testament to the serious threat of danger to the community their release constitutes,” wrote prosecutor Robert Henoch.

Weinstein’s decision came less than a month after he told the pair they would receive life in prison — a sentence that could still be imposed if prosecutors win their appeal.

Caracappa retired in 1992 after establishing the police department’s unit for mob murder investigations. Eppolito, whose father was a member of the Gambino crime family, was a much-praised street cop who went on to play a bit part in the film “GoodFellas” and launch an unsuccessful career as a screenwriter.

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