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Settlement, closure, for murdered union official’s family

August 25, 2015

By Mairead Tully

Attorney Brian O’Dwyer.

Attorney Brian O’Dwyer.

By Irish Echo Staff

New York City will pay $1.75 million to the family of Jim Bishop, a former painter’s union official who was murdered on May 17, 1990.

Brian O’Dwyer and Cody McCone of the law firm of O’Dwyer & Bernstien, LLP announced that the suit brought by the Bishop family against the City of New York had been settled for the amount of $1.75 million.

The suit, which was brought in 2006, alleged that two police officers, Stephen Caracappa and Louis Eppolito, were assassins and spies for the Mafia while they were employed as detectives of the New York City Police Department.

Bishop served for over twenty years as an official of District 9 of the Carpenters Union and during that time fought hard against Mafia influence in the construction industry.

As a result of his crusade, Bishop was targeted by the Mafia for assassination – even as he was supposed to have been under police protection, said a release from O’Dwyer & Bernstien, which is based in Lower Manhattan.

Instead, according to the release, Officers Eppolito and Caracappa arranged for police protection to be removed and provided information as to Bishop’s address.

“As a result of the removal of police protection and the tip as to his whereabouts, Bishop was murdered in Queens,” the release announcing the settlement said.

Both Eppolito and Caracappa were convicted in 2009 of aiding and abetting the Mob in the commission of eight gangland murders, and each received life sentences in prison.

The conviction followed exposure of what was one of the most notorious cases of corrupt actions by police officers in the city’s history.

In sentencing the two, Judge Jack Weinstein of the United States District Court said: “these two defendants have committed what amounts to treason against the people of the city of New York and their fellow police officers.”

In 2005, Frances Bishop, the widow of James Bishop, retained the Office of O’Dwyer & Bernstien to seek justice for her family.

During the course of the case, evidence was developed that the first reports of the detectives’ corruption were made in 1979 and they were implicated a number of times through the 1980s.
However, they were never charged but rather promoted within police ranks.

The suit, according to the release, alleged that the city had ample evidence that the two detectives were feeding the Mob with classified information and yet no action was taken against them, thus allowing them to aid and abet Bishop’s murder, along with the seven others who were similarly murdered by the Mafia.

The city’s lawyers vigorously defended the case saying that the city had no responsibility for the murders.

After nearly ten years of litigation, Federal Judge Raymond Dearie had ruled that the case could go to trial on September 8.

But on virtually the eve of trial, the city agreed to pay James Bishop’s estate $1.75 million in compensation.

In announcing the settlement, attorney Cody McCone stated: “The heinous acts of two bad detectives does not detract from the brave service of the men and women of the NYPD. This case does show that no one can hide from justice acting under color of law.”

Attorney Brian O’Dwyer said: “We at O’Dwyer and Bernstien are delighted that we could bring justice to the Bishop family.

“The settlement can’t bring Jim Bishop back, but will provide closure to the Bishop family after ten years of hard-fought litigation.”

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