The settlement comes almost 10 years after Frances Bishop, Jim’s widow, brought her case against the city on the grounds that two notoriously corrupt cops – Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, both of whom are currently serving life sentences – outed him to the mafia and interfered with the police protection he was receiving.
A statement from the law firm O’Dwyer and Bernstien reads: “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 20 years as an official of District 9 of the Carpenters Union and during that time he fought hard against the Mafia influence in the construction industry. As a result of his crusade to rid the union of mob influence he was targeted by the Mafia for assassination and was supposed to have been under police protection. Instead, officers Eppolito and Caracappa arranged for the 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.”
Bishop, 60, was killed on the morning of May 17, 1990 in Whitestone, Queens, as he backed his car into a parking space. Eight shots were fired through the car window, hitting him three times in the head and chest. The killing was immediately labeled as a “mob hit,” in the New York Times the following day.
It later emerged that the leadership of the Painter’s Union had been cooperating with the Luchese crime family for decades. Bishop had left his post as its Secretary-Treasurer in 1989 and had agreed to cooperate with a racketeering investigation shortly before his death.
Two Luchese gangsters, George Zappola and George Conte, were convicted of and later admitted to carrying out the killing on orders from the family boss.
Eppolito and Caracappa were accused of outing Bishop to the mob, and in April 2006 they were convicted of having a role in eight mob murders. After an appeals process, in 2009 they were sentenced to life in federal prison and fines of more than $4 million.
Frances Bishop, Jim’s widow, brought charges against the city in 2006. As O’Dwyer and Bernstein stated, “during the course of the case evidence was developed that the first reports of the detectives’ corruption were made in 1979 and were implicated a number of times through the 1980s but were never charged, rather they were promoted within the police ranks.” The suit also alleged that “the city had ample evidence that the two were feeding the Mob with classified information and yet no action was taken against them allowing them to aid and abet Bishop’s murder along with the seven others who were similarly murdered by the Mafia.”
Announcing the settlement, Brian O’Dwyer said “We at O’Dwyer & Bernstien, LLP 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 10 years hard-fought litigation.”
The city’s Law Department has also reached tentative settlements with the families of four other victims of Eppolito and Caracappa’s corruption: Anthony DiLapi, Edward Lino, John Heidel and Bobby Borriello.