The Chicago Syndicate: Jasper Campise
Showing posts with label Jasper Campise. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jasper Campise. Show all posts

Monday, July 16, 2012

How Defective Bullets Turned Ken "Tokyo Joe" Eto into a Government Witness Against the Chicago Outfit


Nothing says July in Chicagoland quite like the bodies of those two bumbling Outfit hit men found stuffed in the trunk of a car almost three decades ago this weekend in Naperville.

They'd tried to kill Outfit bookie Ken "Tokyo Joe" Eto, whom Outfit bosses considered a liability after he was indicted on federal gambling charges. But the hit men botched the job. After Eto was shot three times in the head, the hit men walked away, thinking their labors were done. But Eto miraculously survived and turned government witness. For 17 years, he testified against mobsters, against labor union and political figures. He even spilled secrets on the Chicago Outfit's top cop, Chicago Chief of Detectives William Hanhardt. And for their failure, the two hit men, Jasper Campise, 68, and John Gattuso, 47, a deputy sheriff, were found strangled and stabbed on July 14, 1983. They'd been missing for a few days.

"These two stooges really screwed up, and they paid for it," said Arthur Bilek, 83, then the incorruptible chief of the Cook County sheriff's police and now the executive vice president of the Chicago Crime Commission.

I asked Bilek about the story I'd heard: That the hit men used defective bullets taken from the Cook County sheriff's office. "Exactly," he said Friday. "One put the gun right against Eto's head, pulled the trigger, and the bullet hit the skull, ricocheted under the flesh, ran all around his head. There were three shots, and with blood all over, they thought he was a goner, so they left. But he wasn't dead. He was alive. And later he testified on the Outfit."

Bilek went on to become a professor of criminal law, and most recently he's been at the crime commission. He knows the secret of organized crime: Without corrupt law enforcement and corrupt politicians, organized crime isn't very organized.

The feds had arrested Campise and Gattuso and tried to flip them, but they refused to talk. Still, the two made bail. Each was able to put up cash bond of about $1 million. In the fascinating Japanese documentary film on Eto titled "Tokyo Joe: The Man Who Brought Down the Chicago Mob," former FBI Agent Elaine Smith lamented their decision to make bail. She was Eto's case agent. "Why did they even want to get out (of jail)?" Smith said. "The bosses gave them that money. Because they were going to have you caught. They were going to kill you."

As she speaks, she makes a slicing motion with her hand across her throat.

Why did they decide to bond out? They must have thought there was a happy ending somewhere, but instead all they got was the trunk of that metallic blue Volvo. A 1983 Tribune story quotes a Naperville resident noticing a foul odor coming from the car. The neighbor said "it stunk to high heaven. It was covered in flies."

The documentary, directed by Ken'ichi Oguri, uses law enforcement photos of the time to show the open trunk. A man's leg is raised and bent oddly, but I couldn't tell which hit man it belonged to. What you could see were gray trousers pulled up past a pale calf. And black socks scrunched down to the ankle. The black dress shoes had a decent shine.

In his years in the federal witness program, Eto would often testify while covering his face in a pointy black hood, holes for his eyes, slits for his mouth. To one federal commission he told the story of how he drove to a meeting near Grand and Harlem, Gattuso beside him in the front seat, Campise behind him.

"As soon as I parked, 'bang!' I got shot in the head," Eto testified, with his hood on. "And I thought, well, I knew it. Second time I got shot. And I thought wow, it's not taking any effect. So the third time happened like the first and the second shot, and I thought I better play dead. So I put up my hands like that … and I laid down on the seat (shaking his hands above his head, leaning to the right). I heard the door slam shut. I heard feets (yes, he said "feets") running away."

Eto later testified against Outfit boss Ernest "Rocco" Infelice, and he told federal authorities about Hanhardt and many other figures. He even testified against influential former state Sen. James DeLeo, who was charged with tax evasion in the federal Operation Greylord probe of court corruption. Eto told the court that he bribed DeLeo with $900 to fix parking tickets when DeLeo was a bailiff.

"I would present the tickets to Mr. DeLeo, and he'd go to the back room," Eto said in court. "He'd come out and tell me what it would cost me."

The jury deadlocked at 11-1 in favor of acquittal. DeLeo later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor tax charge in a plea deal.

In 2004, Eto, living under the identity Joe Tanaka, died of cancer at the age of 84. Agent Smith said that in all his years helping the government, Eto never changed his story. "I just wonder if America will ever realize how much we gained from Ken Eto," she said in the film. But Campise and Gattuso deserve some credit, too, don't they? In a way, they were just two more victims of corrupt local government. Maybe if they hadn't used lousy Cook County bullets, we wouldn't know their names. Or the color of their socks.

Thanks to John Kass.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Mob's Eto Dies Long After Surviving Hit

Friends of ours: Ken "Tokyo Joe" Eto , Ernest Rocco Infelice, John Gattuso, Jasper Campise

A noted Chicago mob figure who ran gambling operations for the Outfit, survived a botched hit and turned government informant and witness has died after a long stint in the federal witness-protection program, a federal official confirmed.

Ken Eto turned on the mob after he survived being shot in the head in a Northwest Side parking lot in 1983 and went on to testify against mob boss Ernest Rocco Infelice in 1991. After a news report Wednesday on WLS-TV Ch. 7 that said Eto died in Atlanta in 2004 in his 80s, federal officials in Chicago said they had been aware of his death, which had not been reported by the media before Wednesday.

First Assistant U.S. Atty. Gary Shapiro, who for years headed the U.S. Justice Department's Chicago Organized Crime Strike Force, said Wednesday that he knew of Eto's death, but he did not know when he had died.

Eto, known as "Tokyo Joe," survived three gunshots in the head in February 1983 in an attempted assassination that came after he was convicted of a gambling charge and the mob feared he would become a turncoat.

Former FBI agent Jack O'Rourke said Wednesday that Eto was a gambling expert who for decades ran games and books for the mob's North Side crew. Eto learned gambling in the service while riding a troop train to Alaska during World War II. After returning to Chicago, he took up with the mob and handled not only their games and books, but also paid bribes to police, O'Rourke said.

In 1983, the mob turned on Eto and ordered him killed.

Inside a car parked along Harlem Avenue on the North Side, two men fired three shots into Eto's skull. The men, whom Eto later identified to federal agents as mob soldiers John Gattuso and Jasper Campise, then left him for dead, O'Rourke said. But Eto didn't die, and after awaking from unconsciousness, dragged himself to a nearby pharmacy, where he called 911, O'Rourke said.

FBI agents and then-Assistant U.S. Atty. Jeremy Margolis rushed to the hospital where Eto was taken, O'Rourke said. During his recovery, Eto agreed to "flip" for the feds, O'Rourke said. "He really had nowhere else to go," O'Rourke said

Eto not only fingered Gattuso, a Cook County sheriff's officer, and Campise, as the gunmen, but he also provided intelligence about mob activity to the FBI. O'Rourke said he learned that soon after the shooting, the mob planned to murder Gattuso and Campise. O'Rourke said he and then-U.S. Atty. Dan Webb tried to persuade the men to cooperate with the government, but they refused.

On July 14, 1983, their bodies were found in the trunk of car in Naperville. Eto, meanwhile, was placed in the witness-protection program, O'Rourke said.

In 1989, Eto testified against a state legislator implicated in the Operation Greylord investigation. Eto was 72 when he testified in 1991, telling the court he had spent 40 years in the Chicago Outfit.

"I've never seen a witness like him," Shapiro said. "Completely unflappable."

Thanks to Jeff Coen, Rudolph Bush and Matt O'Connor

Mobster "Tokyo Joe" is dead

Friends of ours: Ken "Tokyo Joe" Eto, Jasper Campise, John Gattuso

One of Chicago's most well known mobsters has died. He lived a much longer life than the mob intended. Ken Eto survived a mob hit back in 1983 when the bullets that were meant to kill him bounced off his head.

The failed assassination convinced Eto to cooperate with prosecutors. But now, more than 20 years after the botched hit, there is still a mystery surrounding the death of Ken Eto. ABC7 investigative reporter Chuck Goudie takes a look at the mob mystery in this Intelligence Report.

When Ken Eto lived through the gangland hit, everybody knew about it. Bullets rebounding from someone's head makes for lead story news. When Eto died more than two years ago of natural causes, almost nobody knew about it and it wasn't on the news until the I-Team reported it Wednesday afternoon. His was a life cloaked in mobdom, even ending in mystery.

"Toyko Joe," as he was known, was one of the most colorful, well-known characters of Chicago mob lore, a gambling boss who ran a $200,000 a week bolita empire.

"He was a trusted moneymaker, he'd been around for a long time and actually had kind of a reputation as a violent sort of person," said Elaine smith, former FBI agent.

Elaine Smith worked Ken Eto cases for the FBI in Chicago for more than 20 years. We interviewed her a few years ago before she retired and Eto died. In a business not known for longevity, the fact that Tokyo Joe lived to age 84 was remarkable. He was supposed to have died in an alleyway on February 10th, 1983, a few weeks before sentencing on gambling-related charges.

Outfit bosses, fearing Eto might spill mob secrets to avoid prison, ordered him killed. Hitman Jasper Campise and Cook County Deputy Sheriff John Gattuso were deployed to carry out the murder. But somehow, three .22 caliber bullets ricocheted off Eto's skull and he survived. A few months later, the bungling assassins were themselves killed.

Eto opted to become a government informant and special agent Smith interrogated him for months, then helped prepare him for federal prosecutions that put away police officials and mob bosses.

During his cooperation, Smith says Eto admitted to a role in four murders. "He didn't participate in these murders, he set the people up," Smith said.

Eto lived out his days in the federal witness security program under the assumed name Joe Tanaka from Iowa. But on January 23, 2004, he died, a mobster at heart.

"Imagine what it would be like on a day-to-day basis and always show respect and always do what they said to do, unquestioning, with people that are dumb, immoral, selfish, corrupt individuals," Smith said.

Elaine Smith attended a memorial service for Eto after he passed at his Georgia home in 2004. Even at that service, the dearly departed was known as Joe Tanaka, restaurateur. But by whatever name, Tokyo Joe left behind six children, most of them still carrying the Eto name, a name that their father couldn't live with for the last portion of his life.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie

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