Over the years, 60 Minutes has done its share of stories about police corruption, but none more outrageous than the one you're about to hear. As 60 Minutes first reported in January, it's the story of two New York City police officers who were accused of being hired killers for the mafia.
Stephen Caraccappa and Louis Eppolito, two highly decorated former detectives, were convicted last month of murdering eight people - murders committed on the orders of a vicious mob boss.
In the weeks before the trial, one of those detectives, Stephen Caracappa talked with correspondent Ed Bradley for his first television interview and answered the allegations that he betrayed his badge and became a mafia hitman.
Caracappa told Bradley the allegations against him are ridiculous. "It's ludicrous. Anybody that knows me, knows I love the police department. I couldn't kill anybody. I shot a guy once on the job, and I still think about it. It bothers me," he said.
Why does he think police went after him?
"I could come up with 100 different scenarios. But none of the scenarios make any sense to me, myself," Caracappa said. "All I know is that I am here now. And, I'm fighting for my life. I'm fighting for my reputation. I want to be vindicated of this. And, I'm mad. I'm angry."
For most of his 23-year career in the New York City Police Department, Stephen Caracappa was widely respected for his tenacity and savvy in cracking complicated cases. He rose from street patrolman to undercover narcotics officer, to first-grade detective, receiving numerous commendations along the way.
He helped create the prestigious organized-crime homicide unit. His mission was to investigate the Lucchese crime family but instead, prosecutors say that in 1985 Caracappa and his former partner Louis Eppolito actually joined the family, and began working for its brutal boss, Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso.
Speaking to Ed Bradley in a 1998 prison interview, Casso said, "I have two detectives that work the major squad team for the New York Police Department."
Asked what their names were, Casso told Bradley, "Lou Eppolito and Steve – he's got a long last name, Ca... Capis..."
"Caracappa?" Bradley asked.
"Caracappa yeah," Casso replied. "Caracappa, whatever it is. I can't say it all the time you know. Louis is a big guy who works out. Steve is a little small skinny guy."
Casso remains in the prison, serving a life sentence after admitting to 36 murders. He told Bradley about the extraordinary relationship he had with Detectives Caracappa and Eppolito. He also told his story to federal prosecutors, spelling out how, for a hefty salary, Caracappa and Eppolito would walk right up to Casso's enemies, trick them into believing they were under arrest, and then deliver them to Casso to be executed.
That's exactly what Casso told 60 Minutes the detectives did to a young hood named Jimmy Hydell.
"They put him in the car. The kid thought they were taking him to the station house. But they took him to a garage. When they got to the garage, they laid him on the floor; they tied his feet, his handcuffs, put him in the trunk of the car," Casso said. "After that, I killed the kid. Myself, at that time I gave Louis and Steve, I think, $45,000 for delivering him to me."
"You gave them a bonus for delivering some one to you, you killed?" Bradley asked.
"Right. Well they wanted to kill for me. I didn't even have to do it. They were gonna get him, kill him and do whatever I wanted to do with him," Casso replied in the 1998 interview.
"I don't know Hydell, never met Hydell, Caracappa replied to the claim. "I never met Anthony Casso. I don't know Anthony Casso."
What about Casso's claim that he had met Caracappa during the alleged delivery of Jimmy Hydell?
"Mr. Bradley, I never met – I spoke to Anthony Casso. Never," Caracappa said.
Asked why Casso would lie, Caracappa said, "To save himself, I would assume. But, why would he use me? I don't know."
Casso was, in fact, hoping to save himself, and reduce his sentence, when he first told his astonishing account to investigators 12 years ago. But prosecutors say they couldn't charge Eppolito and Caracappa then because they couldn't prove Casso's story.