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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Suggested Reading: "Mafia Cop: The Story of an Honest Cop Whose Family Was The Mob" by Lou Eppolito & Bob Drury (1993)

    Mafia CopMafia Cop by Lou Eppolito & Bob Drury (1993)

    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    "Mafia Cop: The Story of an Honest Cop Whose Family was the Mob" tells (part of) the tale of (retired) NYPD Detective Lou Eppolito, who is currently serving out a "life plus 100 years" sentence in a federal corrections facility near Tucson, Arizona. But that's getting ahead of the story, lets back up a bit.

    Back in 1993, in his own words, Eppolito (along with co-author Bob Drury) recounted, in his book "Mafia Cop," of growing up as the son of Ralph "Fat The Gangster" Eppolito. His uncle was Jimmy "The Clam." And there were more family mambers with funny sounding nicknames. And friends of family members with the same strange nicknames. Young Louie's family, you see, were well connected New York City underworld Organized Crime members. And he was born, innocently enough on his own part, right into the middle of it all. It seemed to be his destiny. His father raised him, through a combination of violence and tough love, to be a man... very tough but always respectful...always very respectful. And young Lou grew into just that sort of man...eventually. Or so he says in the book.

    His father passed away when Lou was a young man just really getting out into the world on his own, and, like so many others of his generation, he was casting about, looking for his way in the world, not really wanting to follow his father into "the family business." He eventually, through a path of circumstances he describes in the book, finds himself joining up with the NYPD, effectively "going over to the other side" in light of his "family background."

    But Lou is, despite the fact that he now wears a Blue Uniform, his father's son. He manages to disconnect his private family life from his police career. He remains respectful to his family, but goes out of his way to avoid them. He becomes a real cop's cop. Over the course of a dozen years during the 1970's and early 1980's, Eppolito becomes one of the more highly respected policemen on the force in the city, becoming, at the time, the eleventh most decorated cop in the city, appearing frequently in newspaper stories that detailed his heroic police actions. But his controversial, gruff and tough style with perps who got him in more than just abit of hot water of the course of his career, and his mobbed-up family background would see him develop natural enemies within the police department as well. There were those on the force who were not so certain that Fat the Gangster's son was keeping the seperation between his job and his family as clean as he claimed he was. After nearly fifteen years on the job, Eppolito is finally caught up in an investigation into Organized Crime, accused of passing sensitive documents to members of a well known organzied crime family. He swears he is innocent...just a good cop with a bad family name...not guilty and, after a months-long process is, indeed, found not guilty. He returns to his job, exhonerated...for a time.

    But there were too many feelings of broken trust and a strong sense of betrayal and disrespect felt on Eppolito's part against the department in which he'd so heroically serverd for a decade and a half. Eppolito eventually filed suit against the NYPD for $5 million, a suit which he lost nearly immediately. As the final sentence in the book says, "...on December 14, 1989, Detective Second Grade Louis John Eppolito retired with full honors. The New York City Police Department had finally managed to rid itself of one of it's worthiest cops."

    End of story, right? After all, that's the last line in the book. Louie Eppolito, a son of the mafia by birth, 70's era super-cop by choice, leaves the force, his name in the clear for any wrongdoings. That's how he would have you believe the story. But that's certainly not the end of it.

    There were many more details to the story, apparently, that Mr. Eppolito was not so forthcoming in disclosing. But the truth has a way of coming out over time.

    Of course he co-authored the book we're reviewing here...and that came out in 1993. In 1989, Eppolito had been introduced to filmmaker Martin Scorsese, who hired Louie "on the spot" to portray a Gambino Family capo in his upcoming movie "Goodfellas."

    Then the story, the part that's not in the book, continues to develop...and it gets bad for our "hero," officer Eppolito. As I mentioned at the beginning, he is serving a life sentence in prison in Arizona. How did the man wind up in prison? Could it be he wasn't telling the full truth in the book? What led to his eventual incarceration? You can read all about the jailed retired DetectiveLouis Eppolito, who is now famously known as one of the most corrupt cops in the history of the NYPD, and how he himself wound up in the joint. Details over at Wikipedia: Louis Eppolito.

    As far as the book? Eppolito tells a great story to be sure. But considering the source, it is a story to be taken with a bit of caution. Did things really happen as they are portrayed to have happened in the book? Who can say? Maybe the FBI could tell you. I wouldn't call the book "Fiction" by any means, but, obviously, due to the subject matter and Eppolito's eventual incarceration, he definately had much to hide and distort as he was co-authoring the book. It's kinda crazy that he chose to write a book at all...

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Suggested Reading: "Mafia Cop: The Story of an Honest Cop Whose Family Was The Mob" by Lou Eppolito & Bob Drury (1993)

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