A Connecticut accountant got a break and will serve no more than a year and day for stealing more than $5 million from his clients. The reason for the leniency? He helped nail two ex-detectives for mob hits.
Stephen Corso, formerly of Ridgefield, could have faced more than seven years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines. When he was sentenced Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Janet Hall gave him a lighter sentence because Corso risked his life as an essential witness in the conviction of two former New York City detectives for carrying out mob hits.
He was an important government witness against detectives Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, who were accused of participating in eight mob-related killings while working for the Luchese crime family.
"I can't find the words to describe the value, at least in my judgment, of this cooperation," Hall said.
It was not all roses for Corso.
Hall also said Corso's thefts from his clients were an "an extraordinary violation of trust," when she sentenced him Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport.
In 2006, a New York jury found the detectives guilty. A judge, however, dismissed their racketeering case after determining the statute of limitations had passed on the slayings.
A federal appeals court later reinstated the verdict.
Authorities who handled the case said Corso's role as an informant was critical to prove that the conspiracy occurred within the statute of limitations.
"There never would have been justice without Mr. Corso's cooperation," Robert Henoch, a former New York prosecutor who handled the case, told Hall at Corso's sentencing Tuesday.
Prosecutors argued the murders were part of a conspiracy that lasted through a 2005 drug deal with Corso, who was an FBI informant.
Corso wore a wire while offering the detectives drug money to finance a film project at a 2004 meeting in Las Vegas.
Eppolito, a decorated former detective and son of a mobster, was living in Las Vegas and trying to peddle screenplays and was unconcerned about the source of the cash.
At the time, Corso said he ripped off millions from his clients to finance a life of "girlfriends, jewelry and going out." Prosecutors said he also had significant gambling losses while living a second life in Las Vegas.
Susan Patrick, whose family lost more than $800,000 to Corso, said he was a family friend before the thefts. Corso has been ordered to pay restitution to the Patricks and other victims.
He is scheduled to surrender May 6 to serve his sentence.