Jacquelyn Greco pleads guilty to husband's 1979 murder, sentenced to 22 years

  • Jacquelyn Greco

    Jacquelyn Greco

  • Carl Gaimari

    Carl Gaimari Courtesy of the Gaimari family

 
 
Updated 2/23/2021 7:35 PM

The 22-year sentence Jacquelyn Greco received Tuesday for her part in the 1979 murder of her husband wasn't the maximum allowed by law at the time.

But her guilty plea, which comes nearly 42 years after Carl Gaimari was found shot to death in the basement of the couple's Inverness home, grants satisfaction to his family that justice has been served.

 

"We accept the plea agreement on behalf of Carl," his younger brother, John Gaimari, said during the sentencing hearing before Cook County Judge Steven Goebel. "Now the world gets to hear his wife and the mother of his children admit guilt."

"We always knew the truth. Now there is no doubt whatsoever," John Gaimari said in his victim impact statement.

Greco, whose 2016 murder conviction was overturned last year by the Illinois Appellate Court, pleaded guilty in exchange for the sentence, which Goebel imposed according to 1979 law requiring defendants to serve at least 50% of their sentences before they are eligible for parole.

That means the 74-year-old grandmother, who has been in custody nearly eight years, will spend at least three more years in prison.

"Sad, sad, sad is the word that runs through this case," said Goebel, who called the April 30, 1979, murder of the 34-year-old commodities trader "diabolical and premeditated."

"This was a truly heartless, coldblooded and evil plan executed in a way that delayed justice for years," Goebel said.

Prosecutors said greed motivated Greco and her then-lover, a Chicago detective, to arrange what appeared to be a home invasion that concluded with Gaimari's murder.

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Two masked men entered the home through an unlocked back door, tied up Greco and three of her four children, and locked them in a closet, said Assistant Cook County State's Attorney Ethan Holland. The two men "sat smoking and drinking vodka" until Gaimari returned from work at the Chicago Board of Trade.

They took Gaimari to the basement where they shot him six times in the chest with his own gun, Holland said.

Upon returning home from school, the couple's oldest daughter found her mother and siblings in the closet and freed them, Holland said. The couple's 13-year-old daughter discovered her father's body.

For years, that daughter "was led to believe falsely that the murder occurred because she left the rear door open," Holland said.

The gunmen have never been identified. Jacquelyn Greco's former lover, Sam Greco, moved into her home a week after Gaimari's murder, authorities said. They married several months later and eventually divorced. Greco, who died several years ago, was never charged.

In her victim impact statement, Carl Gaimari's older sister Leemarie Bonk wrote about the toll the murder took on their parents, Helen and Rudy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Helen Gaimari's "heart and soul died with Carl and her grieving never ended," Bonk wrote. "She always knew Jackie was the instigator."

"I only wish my parents had seen that justice was done," wrote Bonk, "to hear Jackie finally admit her guilt."

John Gaimari described how Carl's murder affected his children, who "involuntarily were made part of the plan" as the three youngest were tied up to "wait for the execution of their father."

All four suffered depression, anxiety and nightmares, John Gaimari said, and Carl's second daughter, who discovered her father's body, died of a drug overdose in 2009 at age 41. In an email to the Daily Herald, Gaimari stated that Greco never mentioned his brother's name and expressed no remorse.

Referencing the unidentified shooters, Assistant Cook County Public Defender Caroline Glennon stated that justice has only partially been served in this case.

She said Greco "is at a point in her life where she is tired and wants this to be behind her. She wants to make peace for everybody at this point."

For her part, Greco disputed prosecutors' claim that she collected a substantial amount of money upon her husband's death. She also stated she did not want him dead.

"I want to go home," she said. "I want to go home."

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