Monday, June 11, 2012
Death Sentence for Art Rachel?
During his decades as thief extraordinaire for the Chicago Outfit, 74-year-old Art Rachel has been known as "The Brain" or "The Genius" due to his brilliant burglary skills.
In federal court on Thursday though, it appeared Mr. Rachel didn't have the smarts to show sufficient remorse to the judge who was about to sentence him for his latest crime spree.
"We were bored and had nothing to do," Rachel explained to Judge Harry Leinenweber when the time came for him to make a final plea for leniency. "We weren't serious" about robbing banks, armored cars or the home of a late mob boss Rachel said. Then, almost as an afterthought, Rachel said he "could do better."
Judge Leinenweber, unimpressed by the Genius or his recitation, agreed that the allegedly ailing-gangster "could have done better." Leinenweber then handed Rachel a sentence of almost 8 1/2 years in federal prison. At Rachel's age, that could amount to a death sentence.
Earlier, Rachel's attorney Terry Gillespie told the judge that he was saddened to think that his client would "spend most or all the rest of his life in jail. There is a side of Arthur Rachel you haven't seen" Gillespie stated, "he should have something left of his life."
Rachel's life is marked by one case of skullduggery that stands out in the annals of Chicago mob history: the Great Marlborough Diamond Theft.
On Sept. 11, 1980 Rachel and his longtime Outfit partner Jerry "Monk" Scalise broke into this high-end jewelry store in London, England. They escaped with millions of dollars in gems including the once-royal Marlborough diamond-a 45 carat sparkler.
In a botched ending to one of the mob's greatest heists, Rachel and Scalise were nabbed at O'Hare Airport on the way back from Britain&although they didn't have the diamond and it has never been found.
Rachel's sentencing hearing in federal court on Thursday was against that historical backdrop. Assistant U.S. Attorney Amarjeet S. Bhachu noted the notorious diamond theft, Rachel's other "multiple convictions" for robbery and forgery and said he deserved no mercy.
"This thug has the gall to ask for leniency when he does the same thing over and over" Bhachu told the judge. "He is a parasite. He lives off of others. The public needs to be protected from this man."
Rachel, sporting a snow-white goatee, glasses and court-designer manacles, had no family members or friends present for the sentencing-although several had written letters on his behalf to the judge.
His Outfit partner Jerry Scalise was also charged in the current case along with Mob associate Robert "Bobby" Pullia. Scalise and Pullia pleaded guilty and have yet to be sentenced. Rachel took his case to trial and was convicted.
After the court sentencing, Rachel's attorney said he "found it to be a very sad hearing, maybe more than most because despite what the prosecutor said and the name calling I found him to be a very decent kind man." Lawyer Terry Gillespie told ABC7 that Rachel has "been always a gentleman, bright. I just got a sense that it's such a waste. He spent half his life in jail and now he's going to die there, but he had no excuses. He didn't allow me to present any excuses."
Thanks to Chuck Goudie and Ann Pistone.