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Sex trafficker who forced immigrants into prostitution sentenced to life in prison

Government  supplied copyshot Alex 'Daddy' Campbell who was convicted exploiting illegal immigrant women by having them work his massage

Government supplied copyshot of Alex "Daddy" Campbell, who was convicted of exploiting illegal immigrant women by having them work in his massage parlors Monday, January 30, 2011 | Brian Jackson~Chicago Sun-Times

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Updated: December 28, 2012 6:20AM

He styled himself as the “Cowboy” and branded his prostitutes like cattle.

But a violent sex-trafficker who followed the rules of the “Pimp Bible” was Monday himself branded by a federal judge as “the worst of the worst.”

Alex Campbell was sentenced to life in prison without parole for forcing foreign women into prostitution at his northwest suburban massage parlor. The 47-year-old, convicted in January of three counts each of forced labor, harboring illegal immigrants for financial gain and confiscating passports to force the victims to work, was guilty of crimes “as serious as I’ve seen over 18 years,” Judge Robert Gettleman told him.

Campbell romanced the vulnerable young women, then beat, degraded and terrorized them using tips he learned from books including “Pimp” by Iceberg Slim, until they were sexual slaves under his control at the Day and Night Spa in Mount Prospect, evidence showed.

In a move that Gettleman told him was “the worst thing you did,” Campbell tattooed the women with his horseshoe symbol and the words “Cowboy Productions.”

“They have a life sentence — all of them,” the judge said of the victims. “None of them will ever be able to look in the mirror and forget what you did to them.”

During Monday’s hearing, a woman Campbell forced to work testified that he beat her if she didn’t make $1,500 a day. He kept her child from her, raped her, plied her with drugs and kept all the money she earned, said the woman, who gave only her first name, Nicole.

On one occasion, angry that Nicole had been talking with another prostitute, Campbell forced them both to strip, tied them to stripper poles and tortured the other woman with a baseball bat, Nicole said. Campbell covered the floor with a tarpaulin, leading the women to fear that “this was the day that he was going to kill us,” Nicole said, describing Campbell as “evil, pure evil.”

In a rambling two-hour speech to the court, Campbell maintained his innocence, alleging he was only convicted because he was a black man with white victims. The women turned against him to get help with immigration problems, he claimed, telling the judge “I ask God to find it in your heart not to take my life away.”

He had earlier tried to delay sentencing with an unsuccessful attempt to fire his attorney, Mark Kusatzky. His first trial ended in a mistrial when his original attorney, Douglas Rathe, was recognized from the stand by a masseuse.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Grimes said evidence presented at the second trial — at which Campbell was also convicted of sex-trafficking by force and extortion — showed Campbell’s only defense was to “blame the women” he’d enslaved, calling Campbell a “calculating ... cunning ... manipulating ... predator” who could never be rehabilitated.

Gettleman agreed, saying it was the first time in he’d been “confronted with having to sentence someone to life who I thought deserved it.”

He questioned the actions of the au pair agency “Au Pair in America,” which helped the women get their visas to come to the U.S. from Eastern Europe, then abandoned them. And he decried the pimp image popularized in TV shows and movies.

“I think there’s plenty of people out there who think it’s cool to be a pimp,” the judge said. “The glorification of this lifestyle is disgusting.”

Speaking outside court, prosecutor Diane MacArthur said the conclusion to the joint investigation by the Justice Department, Cook County Sheriff’s Police and the Department of Homeland Security sends a message that even women “on the outskirts of society ... will be heard and will get their day in court.”

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