On Friday, a federal judge overturned the convictions of two former New York City cops accused of working for the Luchese crime family as mob hit men. The judge said that he still believes they are guilty, but the statute of limitations had run out.
Three months ago, a jury found former NYPD detectives Louis Eppolito and Steven Caracappa guilty of participating in eight murders while on the payroll of the organized crime underboss.
In his decision, Judge Jack Weinstein said he agreed with a jury that Eppolito and Caracappa were guilty of murder, kidnapping and other crimes, but unfortunately the law "compelled" him to overturn the verdicts on the most serious charges. Weinstein granted the former cops a new trial on drug charges and Eppolito a new trial on money laundering charges.
"The evidence at trial overwhelmingly established the defendants' participation in a large number of heinous and violent crimes," he said in his ruling.
"Nevertheless the five-year statute of limitations mandates granting the defendants a judgment of acquittal on the key charge against them -- racketeering conspiracy."
Less than a month ago, Weinstein sentenced the two disgraced law enforcement officers to life in prison.
During the original trial, prosecutors claimed that the "hits" were part of a murder and drug conspiracy that continued until a 2005 drug deal. They claimed that the former cops circumvented a five-year statute of limitations on federal charges. The jury agreed.
But the defense team for the two rogue cops filed a post-trial motion contending that the most serious murder and racketeering charges had expired.
"The evidence presented at the trial overwhelmingly established the defendants' participation in a large number of heinous and violent crimes, including eight murders," the judge wrote in his ruling.
The two NYPD detectives retired to Las Vegas in the mid-1990s, at which point "the conspiracy that began in New York in the 1980s had come to a definite close," the judge wrote.
"The defendants were no longer in contact with their old associates in the Luchese crime family," the judge ruled.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.