Barry Gibbs: "Don't You Remember Me?"

From yesterday's sentencing hearing of the two mob cops convicted of carrying out 8 murders for the mob while they were on the police force: Right after defendant Louis Eppolito used his right of allocution to proclaim his innocence and invite the victims' families to visit him in jail so he could prove it to them

It was at this point that without warning and certainly without permission, a large man wearing a seashell necklace suddenly stood up.

"Mr. Eppolito!" he yelled from the gallery. "Do you remember me?"

Apparently baffled, Mr. Eppolito said, "No."

"I'm the guy you put away for 19 years! I'm Barry Gibbs! You don't remember me? You don't remember what you did to me? To my family?"

The marshals quickly led the man outside, as the courtroom burst into applause.

Judge Jack Weinstein will impose a life sentence on the two crooked cops, assuming they don't win their motion for a new trial based on ineffective assistance of counsel at a June 23 hearing. The pair are claiming Bruce Cutler and Eddie Hayes were inadequate defenders. Eppolito's new lawyer is Joe Bondy.

The wife of one of the murder victims later stuck up for Gibbs:

Mr. Gibbs, tanned and healthy, said that Mr. Eppolito had taken his "constitutional rights and put them in the street."

He found a strange bedfellow in Anna Lino, wife of Edward Lino, whom Mr. Eppolito and Mr. Caracappa were found to have murdered 16 years ago.

"Nineteen years," she said. "Don't you think he has a right to have an outburst?"

Yes, I do. As to whether Bruce Cutler or Eddie Hayes will be found to have been ineffective in their defense, I'm skeptical. It's usually the first motion filed when a new lawyer enters the case after a jury verdict and before sentencing. The cops won't get a chance to raise it again until they lose their direct appeal and reach the habeas stage. I've just read the motion, Mr. Eppolito's affidavit and the government's response. Here's what the Government has to say:

Notably, both Messrs. Cutler and Hayes are extraordinarily experienced counsel with impeccable abilities at trial. They each engaged in vigorous cross-examinations of the government's witnesses, and any decisions about how to proceed at trial were clearly tactical choices. It is not for this Court to second guess those decisions.

One of the arguments is that Hayes and Cutler did not call a witness, Anthony Casso, who would have provided favorable evidence to the defendants. Indeed, Mr. Casso has written a letter to the judge confirming the defense ignored him despite his offers. But, according to the Government response, here's why:

As for Casso, as the Court noted both during trial and on May 3, calling him to testify would have been a catastrophic choice by the defendants. Casso, who is currently serving a life sentence at the highest security federal penitentiary in the United States, could only benefit himself by helping the government. Indeed, Casso had previously implicated the defendants in murder during proffer sessions with the government and even did so on national television. Moreover, in addition to the letters provided to the defendants, Casso wrote other letters to the government offering his assistance in its efforts to prosecute the defendants. If he was called to testify, the defendants would have no assurance that he would not implicate them to curry favor with the government. Moreover, Casso's credibility would have been decimated on cross-examination as the government inquired into his past unsubstantiated and scurrilous allegations.

As to the cops' claims that their lawyers prevented them from taking the stand, the Government writes:

....had Eppolito testified, the government certainly would have been given the opportunity to cross-examine him on issues that the Court had previously excluded in its March 20, 2006 in limine order, see Fed. R. Evid. 608(b), including evidence that Eppolito had extorted Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano, had passed information to Rosario Gambino, and had used his authority as a police detective to frame innocent men for murder. This evidence not only would have undercut Eppolito's credibility, as it evidenced a pattern of deceit while wearing a NYPD detective badge, but also would have further bolstered the government's contention that he had committed crimes for the mafia for money.

Similarly, had Caracappa testified, the government would have introduced evidence about his fraudulent NYPD application, in which he lied about having never been convicted of any crimes, his alleged sexual assault of a defendant's wife, and his patent violation of NYPD policy by using cocaine while acting as an undercover narcotics officer. This evidence would have solidified the government's claim that he too was dishonest and was not beholden to the law.

While the government's obvious and primary purpose in praising the defense lawyers is to protect the jury verdict, the defendants will have a very tough road to hoe to make the required legal showing. But, don't count out Joe Bondy, he's in for the fight and he'll give it his best.

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    Re: Barry Gibbs: "Don't You Remember Me?" (none / 0) (#1)
    by scribe on Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 12:42:39 PM EST
    More on this case, from the NY Daily News: Some of the victims' relatives spoke about the impact these cops' crimes had on their lives.
    Danielle Lino, daughter of Gambino soldier Edward Lino, who was gunned down by the cops off the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn, got the final word. It is our sincere hope that you will spend your remaining years on this Earth rotting in prison, and we are hopeful that you will spend an eternity burning in hell," she told the killer cops.
    Some did not:
    "Missing were relatives for four other victims, including the saddest of all, Nicholas Guido, a 26-year-old Brooklyn man killed in a case of mistaken identity. His mother was too distraught to come to court.
    These two had done a search through the NYPD computer database for "Nicholas Guido"; someone by that name had done wrong by the mob. They gave the mob the information for the wrong Nicholas Guido - he was murdered before his family on Christmas Day. Here's what the Judge said:
    There will be no possibility of parole for disgraced ex-Detectives Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, no leniency for the men convicted of "the most heinous series of crimes ever tried in this courthouse," Brooklyn Federal Judge Jack Weinstein said yesterday. "There has been no doubt, and there is no doubt, that the murders and other crimes were proven without a reasonable doubt," Weinstein said.
    And, outside court, Gibbs had this to say:
    Outside Brooklyn Federal Court, Gibbs was asked what Eppolito will experience in prison. "Every day in jail is like a million years," he said. "Psychologically it's going to break you down, like it did to me."
    More on the victim impact.

    Re: Barry Gibbs: "Don't You Remember Me?" (none / 0) (#2)
    by Slado on Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 12:55:56 PM EST
    I would hope that there isn't much argument about the fact that these two guys are scum. Maybe they aren't guilty but it seems pretty likely (99.9%) that they were mob thugs that used their badge as a weapon against other thugs and the public at large. Mob thugs are dispicable but cops who become mob thugs are the worst sort of scum there is because they take the public trust and use it against us. I love the Saproanos as fiction but these two scumbags remind me that the real life version is not entertaining and ruins the lives of those who it touches.

    Re: Barry Gibbs: "Don't You Remember Me?" (none / 0) (#3)
    by scribe on Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 01:12:14 PM EST
    Slado: I've been following this (in the pages of the NYDN, mostly) since time out of mind. There never was any doubt in my mind, and I'm always willing to give the defendants (Even cops) the benefit of the doubt. What took so long was breaking the case out of all their bullsh*t - they were, as you noted, the worst kind of scum. They were cops, using the power of the badge, to commit crimes for money. And they knew how to work the system to protect themselves. E.g., Lino (comment above) was a mob soldier. These two - acting as cops - pulled a traffic stop on Lino, then executed him for the mob and money.

    Re: Barry Gibbs: "Don't You Remember Me?" (none / 0) (#4)
    by kdog on Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 01:41:08 PM EST
    Of the many crime families in NY, the NYPD is one of them. My old man had some stories of backroom beatings, shakedowns, protection rackets that would blow your mind. I'd imagine it's a little better these days with the media scrutiny, but not much. Cops, Criminals...they are in the same business after all.

    Re: Barry Gibbs: "Don't You Remember Me?" (none / 0) (#5)
    by jondee on Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 02:12:32 PM EST
    Hey, if only these guys could get the groveling lap dogs at the WSJ working for them, they could probobly make a compelling public case for preemption with people like Guido sold to the public as unfortunate collateral casualties. If you're going to embark upon criminal career these days the first thing you need to do is be on the same page with a good p.r apparatus.

    Re: Barry Gibbs: "Don't You Remember Me?" (none / 0) (#6)
    by cpinva on Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 05:54:12 PM EST
    i saw "goodfellas" on tv the other nite, and was reminded once again of why "the sopranos" is such a pathetically pale imitation. committing criminal acts, under color of law, is perhaps the worst violation of the public trust that can be attained. with the criminals themselves, they make no bones about what they are. while the world is certainly a better place, without the likes of mr. lino, his dispatch should have been done the right way, by govt sanctioned murder, not a private contract. otherwise, why bother having the death penalty? here's hoping these two rot in jail, for the rest of their natural, and unnatural lives.