By Bob Faw Correspondent
NBC News
updated 3/10/2005 6:17:43 PM ET 2005-03-10T23:17:43

Louie Eppolito was your classic round peg in a square hole: A New York City detective whose grandfather, father and uncle were in the mob.

In the movie "Goodfellas," Eppolito even played a gangster named Fat Andy. In "Mafia Cop," the book he wrote, Eppolito worked both sides of the street.

Thursday, prosecutors said Eppolito knew whereof he spoke — charging that while Eppolito and his partner, Steve Caracappa, were New York City detectives in the 1980s, they were also hit men for the Lucchese crime family.

"They directly participated in and aided and abetted 11 murders committed by and for their mob benefactors," says U.S. Attorney Roslynn Mauskopf.

The indictment charges crime underboss Anthony “Gaspipe” Casso paid the detectives $4,000 a month for confidential police information and $65,000 for other jobs, like tracking down and killing a Gambino crime family member who tried to take down Casso.

"A Lucchese associate, who just recently agreed to cooperate, has flipped and is now providing information about these two gentlemen," says the reporter who broke the story, Jonathan Dienst of WNBC-TV in New York.

The "two gentlemen," arraigned Thursday in Las Vegas, may have undermined confidence in law enforcement, but prosecutors insist they are not typical.

"This was not a case of two good cops who went bad," says FBI agent Pasquale D'Amuro. "Eppolito and Caracappa were two bad guys who somehow became law enforcement officers."

But Eppolito's stock-in-trade was his tough-guy tactics. For years, one of his colleagues said Thursday, they heard that Eppolito was whacking people.

"This is a perfect example of how good cops do turn bad and corrupt," says former New York City detective Bo Dietl. "And how their lives are ruined. And that's exactly what you have here: Two lives ruined."

It's all grist for another film, perhaps; and another reminder that life, sometimes, does imitate art.

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