James "Jimmy The Clam" Eppolito Sr. (Unknown - October 1st 1979) is a New York Mobster and a Capo in the Gambino crime family. he is famous for being murdered along with his son James "Jim Jim" Eppolito Jr. by Gambino Capo Anthony Gaggi and Soldier Roy DeMeo. he is the uncle of Louis Eppolito an NYPD officer who along with his partner Stephen Caracappa committed murders for the Lucchese crime family in the 80's and 90's. Not Much is known about James Eppolito's early life he is thought to have been born in brooklyn, his date of birth unknown.
Career in the Gambino crime family Edit
Eppolito joined the gambino crime family sometime in the 1950's, he was made capo by Carlo Gambino in the 1960's and was at one point a powerful capo who was involved in bookmaking. during the late 1970's when Paul Castellano became boss his power declined, he worked in partnership with Anthony Gaggi in a bookmaking operation in Brighton Beach,Brooklyn this relationship turned sour when Gaggi's solider Roy DeMeo cheated his son "Jim Jim" of $7,000 in a cocaine deal.
Eppolito and his son were involvement in a children's charity scam that had been supported by, among others, First Lady Rosalynn Carter and Senator Edward Kennedy. the charity was set up by James Eppolito and the money was supposed to go to a worthy cause but the money was pocketed by Epollito.
When the scam was exposed on a "60 Minutes" television episode, one of the photographs showed Jimmy Jr. and the wife of the president posing together. Castellano was concerned that Eppolito had brought heat on the gambino's and President Carter's embarrassment might cause him to seek retaliation on the Gambino Crime Family.
In late 1979, Eppolito told Paul Castellano that Capo Anthony Gaggi and Soldier Roy DeMeo were drug trafficking. Eppolito claimed that DeMeo had cheated Eppolito's son, a Gambino soldier, in a cocaine drug deal, Eppolito Jr. was $7,000 out of pocket after the deal. In addition, Eppolito accused Gaggi of being a police informant and infringing on eppolitto's territory. Eppolito asked Castellano for permission to murder Gaggi and DeMeo. However, Castellano broke his own rules and sided with Gaggi and DeMeo. He then gave them permission to murder both Eppolito and his son. Eppolito thought he was still a powerful capo and that Castellano would side with him in the dispute however he didn't realise how close Gaggi was to Castellano and this stacked the odds in gaggi's favour.
On October 1, 1979, James Eppolito and his son were driving their 1978 Ford Thunderbird when they pulled over and gave Anthony Gaggi and Roy DeMeo a lift they decided to drive to the Gemini Lounge to solve their dispute. Gaggi sat in front with James, Jr., DeMeo and the senior Eppolito sat in the back. During the journey, the elder Eppolito knew that he was going to be whacked and decided he had to get out of the car. He told his son to stop the car so he could get out and go to the toilet. the car pulled over in Coney Island, Brooklyn before the eppolitos could do anything Gaggi and DeMeo shot and killed both Eppolitos. However, a witness alerted an off-duty policeman, who soon found Gaggi walking away from the crime scene. After a brief shootout, the policeman wounded Gaggi in the neck and arrested him. Although charged with the Eppolitos' murders and the attempted murder of the police officer, Gaggi was only convicted of assault. Gaggi was sentenced to 5 to 15 years in federal prison. Because DeMeo went in a different direction to Gaggi as they left the scene, he was not arrested or identified by the witness.
the crime scene was investigated by corrupt NYPD Detective Louis Eppolito and he describes what he saw in his autobiography:
"It was difficult, but I went over to the sheets they had spread over two bodies. I read the two toe tags. The first read 'James Eppolito, Jr.' When I pulled back the sheet, Jim-Jim's head was a mess. It was nothing I hadn't seen before in twelve years on The Job. But all that blood, and Jim-Jim's brain blasted away, it really upset me."
"Then I went to the old man. I don't know how I managed to pull his sheet away, but I did. Uncle Jimmy's face was just absolutely destroyed. His jaw and bottom lip were totally gone, torn off, giving him this long, buck-toothed look."
"And he had tattoos - the gunpowder marks that are left when you're shot at close range - all over what was left of his head. I cleaned him as best I could, combing his hair and washing the blood off his face. But water kept pouring out of his eyes, like he was crying."