On a cool spring day in 1983, Joey O (Chicago Outfit Chieftain Joseph Aiuppa) summoned his underboss, Jackie Cerone, to his home in Oak Brook, Illinois. A loyal soldier, Jackie made sure to be there. As was typical, the now late Outfit henchman Willie Messino picked Jackie up at his house and ferried him to Joey O’s home.
The meeting was called so Joe could lay out his plans to ‘knock down’ (Outfit code for murder) Outfit member Jasper “Jay” Campise and Outfit associate Cook County Sheriff Deputy John Gattuso. Joey O and Jackie were enraged that Campise and Gattuso had botched a hit on then Outfit gambling boss Ken Eto. Despite shooting Eto in the head multiple times, Eto had survived and managed to drag himself to a hospital. Forensics had later determined that Eto lived because Campise and Gattuso had put too little powder in their hand-made bullets.
Aiuppa and Cerone were no fools. They quickly realized how much heat The Outfit would have to deal with now that one of their own (Campise) was actually identified as Eto’s attempted killer. Campise and Gattuso would need to die, and these murders needed to be done right.
This particular meeting between Aiuppa and Cerone was merely one of a number of conferences on the matter involving the failed Eto hit. This time Joey O summoned Jack to his home to explain that he would call on a few of his favorite assassins, individuals like “Black Sam” Carlisi, Frank “The German” Schweihs and Freddy “Porky” Pordyla, to kill Campise and Gattuso. For whatever reason, Jackie would not hear of it. He pleaded with Joe to allow him to personally mastermind and execute the murder plot that would end the lives of Campise and Gattuso.
A number of investigators have long been under the false belief that two (now of late) Outfit heavyweights, Vince Solano and Joseph “Caesar” DiVarco, masterminded the Outfit hits on Campise and Gattuso. This could not be further from the truth. Solano and DiVarco played key roles in orchestrating the failed Outfit hit on Eto, which is why they were not heavily relied upon for the cleanup work in killing Campise and Gattuso. Aiuppa and Cerone were clever enough to make it appear to other thugs as if Solano and DiVarco were in charge of the murder plot as a way to protect themselves – a very common exercise for Outfit leaders. Solano and DiVarco were certainly eager to wash their hands of Campise and Gattuso, but make no mistake in understanding that Aiuppa and Cerone served as the driving force behind their tragic demise.