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Showing posts with label Ken Eto. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ken Eto. Show all posts

Friday, January 11, 2019

THE OUTFIT'S GREATEST HITS

The Chicago Outfit's Greatest Hits from 1920 to 2001.

1920: Big Jim Colosimo is slain in his popular Wabash Avenue restaurant, making way for the rise of Al Capone. Largely credited with taking the steps to create what would become known as the "Chicago Outfit"

1924: Dion O'Banion is shot dead in his flower shop across from Holy Name Cathedral. Chief suspects are his beer war enemies, the Genna brothers. Started hijacking whiskey right before the start of prohibition kicked in.

1929: Seven members of the Bugs Moran gang are gunned down, allegedly on orders of Capone, at 2122 N. Clark in the infamous St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Moran himself, lucky man, is late for the meeting at the S.M.C. Carting Co.


38 Detective Special1930: Jake Lingle, a Chicago Tribune reporter in the mob's pocket, is slain in the Illinois Central train station. He had crossed many mobsters, including Capone. Shot behind the ear with a 38 caliber detective's special on the way to the racetrack, Lingle was given a hero's funeral. It was only later that it was learned that he was really a legman for the mob.


1936: Capone gunman and bodyguard "Machine Gun" Jack McGurn is gunned down at a Milwaukee Avenue bowling alley, the day before Valentine's Day. Given the timing, the Moran gang was suspected. In addition to his skill with a machine gun, McGurn was also considered a scratch golfer who considered going pro and boxed as a welterweight where he was known as Battling Jack McGurn. He is credited with over 25 mob kills and McGurn was also suspected of being the principal gunner and planner of the St. Valentines Day Massacre.


1975: Mob boss Sam Giancana is killed, while cooking sausage, in the basement of his Oak Park home after he becomes a liability to the Outfit. "The Don" calls Giancana the Godfather of Godfathers - The Most Powerful Mafioso in America. Started as a hitman for Capone. Rose to boss of the Chicago crime family. Friend of celebrities such as Frank Sinatra & Marilyn Monroe. Rigged the Chicago vote for John F. Kennedy in 1960.


Joe Batters1978: Six burglars who struck at mob boss Anthony Accardo's (AKA Joe Batters by the FBI and THE Big Tuna by the Chicago media) house are found slain across the city.


1983: Worried he will sing to the feds, mobsters gun down crooked Chicago businessman Allen Dorfman outside the Hyatt Hotel in Lincolnwood. Dorfman had already been convicted under operation Pendorf: Pentration of Dorfman, along with Teamsters President Roy Williams and Joey "The Clown" Lombardo, when he was hit by the Outfit afraid he would look to reduce his sentence.


1983: Mob gambling lieutenant Ken Eto is shot three times in the head. Miraculously, he survives and testifies against old pals.


1986: The mob's man in Vegas, Anthony Spilotro, and his brother Michael Spilotro are beaten and buried alive in an Indiana cornfield. Glamorized in the movie Casino in which Joe Pesci played "Tony the Ant". Opened up a gift shop at the Circus-Cirus Hotel and Casino where he based his operations. The Family Secrets Trial revealed that the two were originally murdered by a crew led by James Marcello in a house in Bensonville. 


2001: Anthony "the Hatch" Chiaramonti, a vicious juice loan debt collector, is shot to death outside a restaurant in suburban Lyons by a man in a hooded sweat shirt. Chiaramonti had been caught on a tape played at the trial of Sam Carlisi, grabbing a trucking company owner, Anthony LaBarbera, by the throat, lifting him in the air and warning him not to be late in paying juice loan money. LaBarbera was wearing an FBI body recorder at the time. Interesting enough, the restaurant where he was shot was a Brown's Chicken and Pasta, where I have had lunch a handful of times.

Thanks to the Chicago SunTimes and additional various sources.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Tokyo Joe: The Man Who Brought Down the Chicago Mob (Mafia o Utta Otoko)

The yakuza, Japan's homegrown mobsters, are favorites of local filmmakers but not documentarians, for reasons entirely understandable. A documentary that seeks to delve into the inner workings of the Yamaguchi-gumi might find an audience, but the hurdles to making it, such as scouting subjects willing to dish openly (and possibly suicidally) on camera, would be formidable. Better to make another TV-friendly program on tuna fishermen.

Tokyo Joe: The Man Who Brought Down the Chicago Mob (Mafia o Utta Otoko)Documentarian Ken'ichi Oguri, backed by uber-producers Kazuyoshi Okuyama and Chihiro Kameyama, has finessed this difficulty by focusing his new film, "Tokyo Joe: The Man Who Brought Down the Chicago Mob (Mafia o Utta Otoko)," on Ken Eto — a Japanese-American FBI informant who put 15 Chicago mobsters and mob associates behind bars in the 1980s.

Eto was no ordinary snitch. Born in California in 1919 and raised by a harshly disciplinarian father, Eto was a wild, scrappy and highly intelligent kid. He found his true metier in a World War II detention camp, where he fleeced fellow detainees in poker games. After the war, he settled in Chicago, where he honed his skills in card sharping while insinuating himself into the mob-run gambling business.

In 1983, Mafia capo Vincent Solano feared that Eto, recently busted for running a massive numbers operation and out on bail, was going to spill to the cops. He ordered a hit, carried out by two henchmen, who drilled three bullets into Eto's skull in a parked car. Incredibly, Eto survived, and, while recovering in the hospital, decided that Solano's betrayal trumped his loyalty to his Mafia bosses. He entered the FBI's witness protection program and spent the next several years giving testimony that delivered a body blow to the Chicago mob.

Oguri tells this story through interviews, mostly notably with Elaine Smith, the former FBI agent who put Eto behind bars (and later wrote a book about him), Jeremy Margolis, the former federal prosecutor who persuaded Eto to turn snitch, and Steven Eto, Eto's son by his second wife.

These talking heads are fascinating characters in their own right. Smith, who joined the Bureau at the late age of 34 when it was still a mostly male preserve, comes across as a salty, wised-up type, spinning anecdote after engaging anecdote about Eto, his case and the ways of the Chicago mob. Of more than 1,000 victims of mob hits, she claims, Eto was the only one to survive. Steven Eto pungently humanizes his father, who ran numbers out of a coffee shop near home and once memorably told his young son, "If you bring a weapon to a fight, be prepared to kill the guy, because if you don't, you'll have an enemy for the rest of your life."

Eto himself appears only fleetingly on the screen, being badgered by the media after his arrest and testifying as a witness for the prosecution, but he is a riveting presence whose hooded eyes see all but tell nothing. Oguri's film about his exploits is, for anyone interested in Mafia lore, pure manna from wise-guy heaven.

Thanks to Mark Schilling

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.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Reputed Mob Lawyer Sam Banks Succumbs to Cancer

Whether he was prosecuting comic Lenny Bruce on obscenity charges, defending a client, or fending off talk that he was a mob mouthpiece, lawyer Samuel V.P. Banks was a bulldog in the courtroom.

"Sam" Banks, who questioned witnesses with the force and cadence of a jackhammer, died of cancer Saturday at age 73 at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

He was a member of one of Chicago's most politically connected families. His brother, former Ald. William J.P. Banks (36th), headed the City Council zoning committee until he retired last year; his son, James, is a zoning lawyer; his brother, Ronald J.P. Banks, was a judge, and his daughter, Karen, married state Rep. John A. Fritchey (D-Chicago).

Some of the city's most colorful federal probes -- and characters -- were braided through Mr. Banks' career.

Ronald Banks said his brother believed everyone deserved a strong defense. "He was good," Ronald Banks said. "He was not afraid to try any case. He believed you're innocent till proven guilty."

Sam Banks represented 1st Ward Ald. Fred Roti in 1989 after "Operation Kaffeeklatsch" broke wide open when a busboy found hidden recording equipment at a favorite pols' haunt: the old Counsellor's Row restaurant. Roti was a "made member" of the mob, according to the FBI.

In the 1991 "Gambat" probe of 1st Ward corruption, Mr. Banks defended Pasquale "Pat" Frank De Leo against charges he bribed Judge David J. Shields to fix a case.

At the 2007 "Family Secrets" trial of mobster Joey "The Clown" Lombardo, a former burglar testified he believed he'd passed bribes to police through Sam Banks. But the man admitted he never saw money change hands.

In 1989 at the Operation Greylord trial, former mob gambling boss Ken Eto -- who entered protective custody after a botched "hit"--linked Mr. Banks to a ticket-fixing scheme.

Mr. Banks was never charged with any wrongdoing.

"Sam used to say 'I take 'em as I find 'em," his brother Ronald said. "Insinuations, they do it all the time."

Mr. Banks loved the chess game of a trial, and never stooped to anything untoward because of his courtroom skill, his brother said. "Sam had too much dignity and class for that -- he was a talented man."

He grew up in the Austin neighborhood and graduated from Austin High and Loyola University. He worked his way through school as an investigator for what was then the city Welfare Department. His specialty was tracking deadbeat dads.

"One time, they knocked on a door and said they were with the Department of Welfare," his brother said. "Four bullet holes went through the door."

Mr. Banks had to call police to arrest the man inside.

Mr. Banks received his law degree from DePaul University, where he impressed Dan Ward, who was dean of DePaul's law school before becoming chief justice of the state Supreme Court.

When Mr. Ward became Cook County state's attorney, he asked Sam Banks to join him.

Mr. Banks successfully prosecuted comic Lenny Bruce on allegations of obscenity in his act at the Gate of Horn nightclub in 1963.

He was proud that he was Mr. Ward's protege, said retired defense attorney Patrick Tuite, who was sworn in as a prosecutor on the same day as Mr. Banks. "Some assistant or secretary was giving him some guff," Mr. Tuite recalled, "and he said, 'I didn't get this job through the Tribune want ads.' ''

"When I started out, he sent me a case and he gave me some encouragement and kind words," said defense attorney Terry Gillespie. "He was an aggressive, determined lawyer in the courtroom, but he had a compassionate side, especially with young lawyers."

To avoid anti-Italian bigotry, Mr. Banks' father, currency exchange owner Vincenzo Giuseppe Panebianco, anglicized his name to James Joseph and added "Banks" to their surname, said Ronald Banks. All his sons continue to use "P" or "Panebianco" in front of "Banks."

A resident of River Forest, Mr. Banks loved golfing at La Grange's Edgewood Valley Country Club and Riverside Golf Club.

He is also survived by his wife, Dorothy, his sister Marlene Panebianco, and two grandchildren. Visitation is from 3 to 9 p.m. today at Salerno's Galewood Chapels, 1857 N. Harlem. A funeral mass is scheduled at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at St. Giles Church, Oak Park. Burial is at Queen of Heaven Cemetery, Hillside.

Thanks to Maureen O'Donnell

Friday, April 11, 2008

FBI Secret Files on Mobster Ken Eto

Ken "Tokyo Joe" Eto died four years ago, but the secret files that were kept on him are being revealed for the first time.

The secret files on Tokyo Joe prove that Ken Eto was different than your normal, everyday Chicago mobster.

He ran an Outfit gambling racket in cahoots with black street gang leaders. But most memorable: 25 years ago he became the only Outfit boss to survive a mob hit. In 1983, Ken Eto became the first hoodlum ever to experience a gangland hangover when a half dozen bullets squeezed from a silencer-equipped pistol, somehow ricocheted off his skull. At the time of the botched assassination, FBI agents had been following Eto and typing reports on him since the early 1950s.

What grew into a foot-tall stack of files was just obtained for the first time by the I-Team under the Freedom of Information Act. The records reveal that hundreds of agents in dozens of cities had tried for decades to pin something on Eto, but failed. The FBI list of Eto's numerous aliases may be politically incorrect by today's standards, but tokyo joe's craftiness helped turn an illegal numbers racket into an illicit empire.

"We analyzed it. It was $150,000 to $200,000 a week he was managing," said Elaine Smith, former FBI agent.

We interviewed Smith as she retired from the FBI - her work as case agent on Ken Eto the highlight of her career. According to the secret files of Tokyo Joe, his gambling business known as Bolito thrived on payoffs to Chicago policemen totaling $3,000 a week.

Eto's criminal rap sheet in the file begins in 1942 in Tacoma, Washington, where he was among four Japanese Americans sentenced for violating a wartime curfew. After coming to Chicago in 1949, Eto grew into a mob sleeper boss believed the FBI on a par with the famous New York mafioso Meyer Lansky.

Shortly after the assassination of President Kennedy, federal agents suspicious of a Chicago mob role in the JFK murder questioned Eto about Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby. FBI reports say Eto claimed to know nothing.

In 1983 Outfit bosses tried to rub him out for one reason, according to the secret files. Mob bosses feared that since the FBI had caught Eto red-handed running Bolito wagers and he'd pleaded guilty, that he might be tempted to talk. So they gave Eto an invitation he couldn't refuse.

"He knew he had to go to this dinner meeting. He really was 90 percent sure he was going to be shot, so he took a bath and he put on his best clothes, and he told his wife where the insurance policy was," Smith said.

Files reveal Vincent Solano ordered the murder. He was an Outfit capo at the time and head of the corrupt laborers union Local One. After surviving the attack, Eto was hooded when he told a U.S. Senate panel what happened.

Solano died of natural causes, never charged in the Eto attack. The two gunman who tried to kill Tokyo Joe had used bad ammo and soon after were themselves disposed of in a car trunk. Eto then became the government's highest ranking hoodlum ever to turn government witness.

The FBI began a secret investigation that we now know from the files was code-named "Operation Sun-Up" a clever turn on the symbol of Eto's native Japan. And because of his testimony, dozens of top Chicago mob figures were convicted and put away.

Whether or not Eto got his outfit nickname from an old Bogart movie, there will soon be a new movie also called Tokyo Joe. The life story of Ken Eto is being made by Japanese filmmakers and due to be finished next month.

Eto died in 2004 at the age of 84. And even though he survived a gangland hit, he didn't live as long as he thought he would. When he was still in the mob, a smart-aleck Eto told federal agents that he'd be happy to discuss his Outfit business when he was 90 years old and living on a beach somewhere.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie

Monday, July 30, 2007

Gangster Graveyard

Friends of ours: Joseph "Jerry" Scalise, Ken "Tokyo Joe" Eto, Joseph Ferriola, Gerald Scarpelli, James Peter Basile, Harry Aleman

After learning his mobster brothers planned to kill him, the stocky bank robber figured his only way out alive was to turn FBI informant.

So, for 16 months, the self-professed soldier secretly recorded 186 conversations with his Chicago Outfit associates. He also detailed about 40 unsolved mob murders.

It was during one of those chats that FBI agent Jack O'Rourke said his informant nonchalantly mentioned a mob graveyard in southeast DuPage County near the former home of syndicate enforcer Joseph "Jerry" Scalise, imprisoned at the time for a London jewelry heist. "What are you talking about?" O'Rourke, now a private consultant, recalls asking. "He said it was common knowledge."

For five months, an elite FBI-led task force excavated many acres near Route 83 and Bluff Road, near Darien. They found bodies of two low-level wise guys before calling it quits in October 1988.

Nearly 20 years later, the group's early intelligence work remains significant. It laid part of the foundation for the Family Secrets trial under way in Chicago in which five defendants are accused of racketeering conspiracy in an indictment that outlines 18 murders, gambling and extortion.

A construction crew also resurrected the field's ominous past in March 2007 after unearthing a third body just north of the site.

It's unknown if more vanquished mobsters remain there undiscovered. A fabled 45-carat gem known as the Marlborough diamond that Scalise stole also was never found. Some theorize he hid it on his property. And, finally, just who is the turncoat who led FBI agents long ago to the burial site?

For decades, Chicago gambling kingpin Ken "Tokyo Joe" Eto was a loyal soldier. That changed in February 1983 when he survived three gunshots in a botched hit. Eto played possum, and later turned informant. His would-be killers were later found dead in a trunk in Naperville - the price for not getting the job done right.

Eto proved to be a valued government witness before his Jan. 23, 2004 death, but he was not the one who led authorities to the graveyard. His attempted assassination, though, in part sparked the formation of the organized crime task force of FBI, Chicago, state and local officials in the mid-1980s to curb such mob violence.

An early goal was to bring down the crime family or "crew" of mob boss Joseph Ferriola of Oak Brook, who operated lucrative gambling rackets from Cicero to Lake County until his 1989 death.

Members of the task force said they focused on Gerald Scarpelli, who along with Scalise, known as Whiterhand because he was born minus four fingers, were Ferriola's busiest hitmen.

About this time, another mob guy started getting cold feet. O'Rourke identified him as James Peter Basile, a convicted Chicago bank robber best known as "Duke." Basile already had the FBI zeroing in on him for a 1983 race track robbery in Crete. So, after he also learned Scarpelli, his longtime associate, was planning to kill him, Basile realized he had no other choice but to break the mob's code of silence.

For 16 months, he helped the FBI listen in on his chats with Scarpelli and other associates before serving a few years in prison for the race track robbery and slipping into a witness protection program in the early 1990s.

Basile re-emerged briefly in June 1996 at a U.S. Senate judiciary committee hearing. "I finally decided to do something because it seemed there was no way out," he testified. "I began informing on the mob."

It was during one of his recordings of Scarpelli that the FBI first learned of the DuPage County graveyard. Basile later took them to the site, near Scalise's former home. The FBI heard there could be as many as seven bodies buried in the field.

It was painstaking work. For five months, task force members traded in suits, badges and guns for jeans, chain saws and shovels. They dug up acres of soil, trees and drained a pond. Members hand sifted truckloads of dirt through mesh screens for trace evidence. "We were meticulous," said Jerry Buten, a retired 30-year FBI supervisor. "This was way before CSI, but we knew the way you solve most major crimes was through physical evidence."

Authorities speculated the field held victims of the infamous chop shop wars of the 1970s, when the mob seized control of the stolen auto-parts trade and wiped out uncooperative dealers.

State police stood guard 24 hours a day. Large canopies were erected to block circling media helicopters. But they weren't the only pests. "I gave an order that anyone who came in was given a pair of work gloves because I got tired of all the suits showing up just to look at us," former DuPage Coroner Richard Ballinger said. "We'd spend 12 hours out there, come back to the office to do more work and sleep, then go back out the next morning."

On May 16, 1988, members unearthed the first skeletal remains. On June 9, a second shallow grave was found. Both men were shot to death.

Authorities brought in experts from across the country, from archaeologists to soil scientists, including top forensic anthropologist Dr. Clyde Snow of Oklahoma. Snow had identified the remains of Nazi war criminal Josef Mengele in Brazil and some victims of John Wayne Gacy and the 1979 American Airlines crash near O'Hare.

Using dental records and facial reconstruction, Snow relied mostly on computerized skull-face superimposition to identify the corpses. The second body, buried in a ski mask and with a cache of pornographic materials, was that of Michael S. Oliver, 29, a Chicago machinist who vanished November 1979.

In the FBI recordings, Scarpelli is heard saying that Oliver was a minor hoodlum shot during a syndicate raid on an independent porn shop near Elk Grove Village.

Not sure how to dump the body, in a scene similar to that in Martin Scorsese's "GoodFellas," his underworld pals talked over a bite to eat as the corpse sat in the trunk.

It took more than one year to identify remains in the first grave as Robert "Bobbie" Hatridge, a 56-year-old Cincinnati man with a distinctive Dick Tracy square jaw, flat feet and a flair for fashion. The FBI said his girlfriend later told agents that Hatridge came to Chicago in April 1979 to meet with Scalise and Scarpelli about a big robbery. He never made it home.

Basile's graveyard tip was considered one of the task force's first big scoops. Nearly 20 years later, its intelligence work reverberates still.

The secret tapes Basile made led to Scarpelli's arrest in July 1988. He killed himself a year later, but not before making a 500-page confession that exposed many mob secrets. He also admitted to 10 murders, including some in the Family Secrets trial.

The task force also made history with another big bust. It brought down Ferriola's nephew, Harry Aleman, for killing a union steward in 1977. He was acquitted, then retried and convicted. Aleman, 68, and still in prison, is the only person tried twice for the same crime. Double jeopardy was discarded after it was learned his first judge took a bribe. "The entire (Ferriola) crew was prosecuted as a result of the task force," Buten said. "It marked the beginning of the Chicago Outfit's end."

The mob graveyard made news again in March when crews building townhouses unearthed a third body several blocks north of the field near 91st Street.

The remains were identified as Robert Charles Cruz of Kildeer, who vanished Dec. 4, 1997. Cruz, who was Aleman's cousin, had been on Arizona's death row just two years earlier until his conviction for a 1980 double murder was overturned.

The discovery of his body begs the question - Could more graves be found there?

Members searched far and wide, with one exception. At the time, a large drug rehab facility was being built there. Many wonder if beneath its foundation lie the bodies of more hoodlums. It's possible, task force members say, but unlikely. The bodies were unearthed in shallow graves less than 5 feet deep. They argue crews dug deeper when laying the foundation and probably would have found more graves if they existed.

Also still missing is the fabled $960,000 Marlborough diamond that Scalise stole during a 1980 London jewelry store heist. It was once owned by Sir Winston Churchill's cousin, the duchess of Marlborough.

Years ago, O'Rourke visited Scalise in his cell on England's Isle of Wight - the British version of Alcatraz - where he was imprisoned for the jewelry heist. "Scalise would do a lot of talking but never say anything," O'Rourke said. "Informants told us he shipped it to Chicago, where it was broken up and sold."

Scalise, 69, has kept a low profile since returning to the Chicago area after finishing an Arizona prison stint on drug charges. But, long ago, he was rumored to be working on his memoirs.

So far, though, he has upheld the mob's code of silence.

Thanks to Christy Gutowski

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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