The Chicago Syndicate: Art Rachel
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Showing posts with label Art Rachel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Art Rachel. Show all posts

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.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Jury Selection Begins Today for Trial of Alleged Mobsters, Jerry Scalise, Art Rachel and Bobby Pullia

Don't let their age fool you.

That might be the message from prosecutors this week when three alleged Chicago mobsters -- Joseph "Jerry" Scalise, Arthur "The Genius" Rachel, and Robert "Bobby" Pullia -- go on trial. All the defendants are in their 70s.

Some people look towards pensions and 401k plans to get by when they retire, but prosecutors say these three defendants were looking for another way to find financial security in their golden years.

Prosecutors say Scalise, Rachel, and Pullia were planning to rob the Southside family home of the late Angelo LaPietra when they were arrested outside the mansion in April 2012. There was speculation that the famous 45 karat Marlborough diamond was hidden inside the home of the late mob boss. The diamond still hasn't been found.

Scalise and Rachel had already been busted in 1980 for stealing the diamond from a London jewelry store. They served 13 years behind bars.

Prosecutors said they were trying to profit from the home invasion in addition to plotting to rob a West Suburban bank.

Their lawyers insist they're innocent.

Scalise in recent years hadn't been shy about his past and even served as a consultant to the Paramount movie "Public Enemies," in which Johnny Depp played John Dillinger.

Jury selection begins Tuesday morning, opening statements could come by the afternoon or maybe Wednesday. The trial is expected to last about two weeks.

Thanks to Larry Yellen

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Chicago Geriaric Mob Trio Trial Delayed Over DNA Tests

The so-called ''geriatric trio'' of Chicago mobsters will have to wait a few months for their day in court.

The federal court trial of Jerry Scalise, Art Rachel and Robert Pullia was to start on July 11, and as avid craps players know, that date -- 7/11 -- is considered good luck and a natural win. Now, though, a delay in some evidence tests ordered by the prosecution means the trial for the Outfit's "geriatric trio" will no longer roll on 7/11.

It has been nearly 15 months since the geriatric troika was arrested in its latest Outfit racket: Armed invasions of several suburban banks and a break-in at the home of a deceased mob boss.

The leader of the 70-somethings is Scalise, a long-time Outfit burglar and repeat ex-con who seemed to have been going straight, working as a consultant on Dillinger and other gangster films shot in Chicago. But, according to prosecutors, Scalise was plotting new crimes even as he aided the fictional accounts on film.

In May, FBI agents served warrants on Scalise's head, demanding hair samples for DNA tests to compare with hair strands found on masks that were allegedly to be used in the hold-ups.

Pullia also provided hair samples to the government.

Art Rachel, known as "The Genius," was not required to pluck any samples.

In court Wednesday, the government said that DNA testing of hair samples was still under way. With defense attorneys willing to wait for the results of hair tests that they hope will clear their clients, a new trial date of September 19 was set.

Thirty-one years ago, the case that made Scalise and Rachel famous was the daring theft of the 41-carat Marlborough diamond from a London jeweler. They were convicted and did lengthy prison sentences in the UK in a case that had no DNA sampling because the use of DNA testing was still a few years away in criminal cases.

This time around, with DNA center stage, attorneys for the mobsters contend that U.S. prosecutors shouldn't have waited a year to do the hair tests.

The September trial date is tentative and it may be later than that. There was even talk of a possible December date. Judge Harry Leinenweber said the whole thing was "screwing up my schedule."

Thanks to Chuck Goudie

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Oscar D'Angelo, "Mayor of Little Italy", on Mob Trial Witness List

Two weeks from now Chicago's latest Outfit trial is scheduled to start in federal court. A trio of aging Chicago mobsters face racketeering/burglary charges.

In this Intelligence Report: We've learned that the government witnesses may include one of the city's most controversial businessmen, the man known as "the Mayor of Little Italy."

He is Oscar D'Angelo, whose Chicago political influence began in the 1950s with Richard J. Daley, yielded him millions as a well-connected developer and rainmaker, and ended in a feud with Richard M. Daley almost 10 years ago. D'Angelo is the flamboyant, self-styled "mayor of Little Italy."

Now, at age 79, D'Angelo finds himself on the prosecution's list of potential witnesses in the city's next big mob trial.

Next month, in the trial of three Chicago hoodlums, D'Angelo may have to speak publicly from the witness stand in federal court.

Jerry Scalise, Art Rachel and Robert Pullia are charged with plotting to hold-up suburban banks and with scheming a break-in at the home of deceased South Side rackets boss Angelo "The Hook" LaPietra.

Scalise and Rachel are best known for stealing the famous 40-carat Marlborough diamond in 1980, a daring daylight robbery from a popular jewelry store in London, England. The men did long prison stretches in the UK and returned to Chicago, authorities say, to resume their careers as Outfit burglars.

While it is not clear why the government would want D'Angelo to testify against them, it would be an unusual and potentially uncomfortable position for him.

First, D'Angelo is a defrocked attorney himself, in 1989 having been disbarred for giving rental cars as gifts to city officials, judges and other politicians. In 2000 he then scarred his three-decade long relationship with the Daley family by loaning money interest to a top Daley official and working as an unregistered lobbyist.

Federal authorities aren't talking about why D'Angelo is on the witness list, although with a park along the Eisenhower Expressway named after him and with his historical perspective of Taylor Street where the gangland thugs operated, perhaps D'Angelo will merely be a foundation witness for the prosecution.

It is not unusual for the government to put people on the witness list who don't end up being called to testify just to cover their bases. But D'Angelo's name certainly attracts attention. And, there is another well-known name on the prosecutor's list, former Chicago police chief of detectives William Hanhardt, who is in prison for his own role in an Outfit jewel theft racket.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Did Jerry Scalise Target Oscar D'Angelo?

Mobbed-up thief Joseph Jerry “The Monk” Scalise allegedly targeted Daley mayoral pal and controversial lobbyist Oscar D’Angelo for a robbery and corresponded with imprisoned Chicago cop William Hanhardt, writing that “Oft times, defendants forget that they DID do the crime,” according to a federal court document filed Tuesday.

Scalise, who is in his early 70s, has a storied criminal career that most recently found him charged last year with two alleged accomplices with conspiring to knock off an armored car at a La Grange bank and rob the home of the late, brutal Chicago mob boss Angelo “The Hook” LaPietra.

The court document, filed by federal prosecutors, lays out the case against Scalise and two other senior citizens, Arthur “The Genius” Rachel and Robert Pullia. The men go to trial next month.

Scalise stole the 45-carat Marlborough diamond in London in 1980, was a reputed member of an Outfit crew of killers called “The Wild Bunch” and more recently was a consultant to famed Hollywood director Michael Mann on his film “Public Enemies.”

The court document is heavily redacted in parts and does not reveal any detail about the men allegedly conspiring to rob D’Angelo, but the criminal deed was never done. D’Angelo, who was involved in scandals in the Richard M. Daley administration, is expected to be called as a prosecution witness at trial against the three men.

The court document does quote at length a letter that Scalise allegedly sent to Hanhardt after Scalise was arrested last year. Federal prosecutor Amarjeet Bhachu contends in the government filing that Scalise admits his guilt in the letter.

Hanhardt, a former Chicago chief of detectives, was sentenced to nearly 12 years behind bars after pleading guilty in 2001 to running a sophisticated theft ring that stole more than $5 million in diamonds and gems from jewelry salesmen across the country. The FBI has contended that Hanhardt was on the take from the mob early in his police career.

“Since I am soon to be out of time (but with, maybe a lot of ‘time’) I am getting as much done . . . while I am out (on bond),” Scalise writes in one letter to Hanhardt, according to the court filing.

“I am finally going through everything with a fine tooth comb and conferring with Eddie G. on a plan of attack,” Scalise wrote, apparently referring to his legendary defense attorney, Edward Genson.

“Oft times, defendants forget that they DID do the crime. So, what do we do to mitigate the charges? The only approach I can see is to attempt to move the goal posts — to make something else the issue. My contention is that the ‘evidence’ is just not good enough. Yes, these culprits were up to something, but the ‘problem’ is in the technological evidence.”

Hanhardt is listed as a prosecution witness. Genson could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

Thanks to Steve Warmbir

Friday, January 14, 2011

Charges Increased to Racketeering on Reputed Elderly Mobsters

Federal prosecutors have upgraded charges against three elderly reputed mob associates who allegedly plotted last year to rob a bank and the home of a late Chicago mob boss.

Joseph “Jerry” Scalise, Arthur Rachel and Robert Pullia now face racketeering charges, which often carry stiffer sentences on conviction.

The men, all in their 70s, were arrested last April on charges they plotted to rob an armored truck company. The racketeering charges also allege the three targeted the family home of deceased Chicago mob head Angelo “the Hook’’ LaPietra for a home invasion.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Jerry "The Monk" Scalise, Reputed Mob Jewel Thief, Freed from Custody

Convicted jewel thief Joseph "Jerry" Scalise was ordered released from custody following Tuesday's decision by Judge Harry Leinenweber denying the government's motion to revoke a pre-trial release order.

The 72-year-old Scalise has been in the Metropolitan Correctional Center since his arrest last April along with Arthur "The Genius" Rachel, 71, and Robert "Bobby" Pullia, 69, as they allegedly scouted banks to rob in the western suburbs. Federal authorities picked up the three as they were preparing to rob the Bridgeport mansion of deceased Chinatown Outfit boss Angelo "The Hook" LaPietra. They were arrested outside LaPietra's one time home with burglary tools, guns, ammo and communications equipment, according to federal agents. At the time of their arrest, there was speculation by mobologists that Scalise and crew were going into LaPietra's former castle-like residence to retrieve the famous Marlborough diamond-missing since a daring daylight burglary in 1980. The 45-carat diamond was stolen from Graff Jewelers in London, UK. Scalise and Rachel were arrested as they arrived at O'Hare International Airport that evening, minus the diamond. Both men were convicted in the theft of the diamond, among $4 million in stolen gems, and served time in a British penitentiary.

Last month, in an effort to prevent Scalise's bond, prosecutors connected him to a Chicago mob hit squad known as The Wild Bunch based on testimony by an admitted mob assassin during the renowned Family Secrets trial. "In its attempt to connect Mr. Scalise to the 'Wild Bunch,' the government relies on the testimony of Nick Calabrese, a confessed murderer, and Frank Calabrese, a convicted murder, given during the 'Family Secrets' trial," wrote Scalise's attorney Edward Genson. "The testimony regarding Mr. Scalise's involvement in the "Wild Bunch" was based solely upon hearsay and was not substantiated by any independent evidence at trial, nor was it substantiated by any evidence on the record&. Furthermore, Mr. Scalise was never arrested or questioned regarding his participation in any of these alleged homicides either before or after the Family Secrets trial."

Scalise will be under house arrest while he's out on $500,000 bond, secured by property posted by his girlfriend, family and friends. His co-defendant's Arthur Rachel and Robert Pullia are currently out on bond.

Thanks to Ann Pistone, Barb Markoff and Chuck Goudie

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Lawyers Look to Ditch Reputed Mobsters Over Money

Defense attorneys for two of the three Chicago hoodlums who were arrested last April for allegedly plotting bank heists, are asking to withdraw because their clients are broke.

Marc Martin and Terrence Gillespie will appeal to U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber on September 7th saying they do not want to work for free, or pro bono, on behalf of Robert "Bobby" Pullia, 69 or Arthur "The Genius" Rachel, 71. According to motions filed this week, Martin and Gillespie will tell the judge that the Outfit-related case has "over 50 hours of recordings and many hours of surveillance video," according to motions filed Tuesday.

This comes two weeks after a hearing at which Judge Leinenweber asked Pullia, Rachel and a third defendant Joseph "Jerry" Scalise, 73 if they had issues with being represented by attorneys from a related law firm. The judge noted that such an arrangement could result in conflict of interests during legal proceedings. The men agreed to have the attorneys continue their representation and waived any future conflict claims.

Pullia and Rachel are out on bond. Scalise was granted bond but prosecutors are appealing and he remains in custody pending the a district court ruling. Scalise was part of a gangland hit squad and involved in numerous mob murders, according to government filings in the case.
Federal authorities say they arrested the three aging mob figures as they were preparing to rob the Bridgeport mansion of deceased Chinatown Outfit boss Angelo "The Hook" LaPietra. The men were arrested outside the LaPietra home with burglary tools, guns, ammo and communications equipment, according to federal agents.

At the time, mobologists speculated that Scalise and crew were going into LaPietra's former castle-like residence to retrieve the famous Marlborough diamond-missing since a daring daylight burglary in 1980. The 45-carat diamond was stolen from Graff Jewelers in London, UK. Scalise and Rachel were arrested as they arrived at O'Hare Airport that evening, sans diamond.

Although both men were convicted in the theft of the diamond-among $4 million in stolen gems-and served time in a British penitentiary, the royal Marlborough diamond was never recovered.

Some investigators have long held that the huge diamond was mailed to mob bosses in Chicago.

Thanks to Ann Pistone and Chuck Goudie

Monday, August 09, 2010

Reputed Mob Burglar, Jerry "Witherhand" Scalise, Makes Bid for Pre-Trial Release

Chicago Outfit burglar Jerry "Witherhand" Scalise, who once grabbed a royal British diamond the size of an egg using his non-deformed hand, is making a new bid for bail in his latest legal escapade.

Attorney Edward Genson on Monday filed a motion in U.S. District Court asking that Scalise be granted pre-trial release because he has "secured additional property from his family and friends to post for bond." Genson noted in the motion that Scalise had been told by a federal judge during previous court hearings that bond would be possible if more property were posted.

Scalise, 73, is the suspected leader of a so-called "Geriatric Trio" of aging mobsters. His not-so-subtle mob nickname "Witherhand" is in recognition of having been born minus four fingers on his left hand. Arrested last April with Scalise were Robert "Bobby" Pullia, 69, and Arthur "The Genius" Rachel, 71 as they allegedly scouted banks to rob in the western suburbs.

Federal authorities picked up the three as they were preparing to rob the Bridgeport mansion of deceased Chinatown Outfit boss Angelo "The Hook" LaPietra. They were arrested outside the LaPietra home with burglary tools, guns, ammo and communications equipment, according to federal agents.

At the time, there was speculation by mobologists that Scalise and crew were going into LaPietra's former castle-like residence to retrieve the famous Marlborough diamond. The 45 carat sparkler was swiped in 1980 during a daring morning hold-up at Graff Jewelers in London, UK. Scalise and Rachel were arrested as they arrived at O'Hare Airport that evening− the diamond.

Although both men were convicted in the theft of the diamond-among $4 million in stolen gems-and served time in a British penitentiary, the royal Marlborough diamond was never recovered.

Some investigators have long held that the huge diamond was mailed to mob bosses in Chicago.

When Scalise finally got out of the UK prison, he returned to Chicago and found work as a movie consultant. Most recently he was hired by director Michael Mann as a crime consultant in the Johnny Depp film, "Public Enemies." Mann told the LA Times he wanted to know what it was like inside a robber's psyche.

According to federal prosecutors Scalise knows all about how to rob-because he is still un-gainfully self-employed as one. According to the federal court motion which will be argued Tuesday, Scalise's family and friends agree to post as security for his release:

  • A Clarendon Hills Home, owned by Linda Pizza, Value $690,000, Equity $181,000
  • Land in Hawaii, owned by Thomas Seaman (brother-in-law), Market Value per Property Assessment $365,200, no mortgage
  • Monee Home, owned by Algiras A. Macevicius (friend), Appraised at $225,000, Equity $136,000

Ms. Pizza is Scalise "longtime companion" according to the motion filed by attorney Genson. The couple lived together in a Hinsdale apartment before she purchased the home in Clarendon Hills, according to law enforcement sources. Scalise promised in the motion that Ms. Pizza "was also willing to act as the designated person for Mr. Scalise should he be released." That may be determined during tomorrow's hearing.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Angelo "The Hook" LaPietra's Former House Searched by the FBI

Chicago FBI agents are searching the home of the family of Angelo "The Hook" LaPietra, the late and widely feared mob leader, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

Authorities have said the house in Bridgeport was the target last month of burglars who believed a fortune had been stashed there — perhaps including the famed, 45-carat Marlborough diamond.

The search began this morning at the fortress-like home at 30th and Princeton. Agents appear to be looking for any stolen items.

Earlier this month, three men — including Joseph "The Monk" Scalise — were arrested as federal authorities said they cased the home for a burglary.

Scalise and one of his alleged partners, Arthur "The Genius" Rachel, were arrested in 1980 after stealing the Marlborough diamond from a London jewelry store.

They were convicted and sent to prison, but the diamond was never found. Its fate has been the subject of speculation ever since.

It was unclear if federal agents were executing a search warrant or if they were searching the home with the consent of the owner. LaPietra's daughter still lives in the home and has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

The search comes after federal agents recently went through the home of another Chicago mobster, Frank Calabrese Sr. FBI agents found more than $1 million in cash and jewelry in that search last month — much of it hidden behind a secret storage area behind a family portrait.

Thanks to NewsRadio780

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Federal Judge Grants Bond Eligibility to Reputed Mob Burglars

They may have pulled off one of the most spectacular stick-ups in all of Chicago mobdom, but that doesn't necessarily mean they will skip out on their current court case, said a federal judge.

On Wednesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Nan Nolan ruled that Art "The Genius" Rachel and Jerry "Witherhand" Scalise pose no flight risk and are therefore eligible to be released on bond. Rachel, 71 and Scalise, 73 are charged with plotting a bank heist in west suburban LaGrange.

"The only reason that bank was not robbed was because of the FBI," stated assistant U.S. Attorney T. Markus Funk who was arguing the government's case for detention. "We have a bulletproof case against Mr. Scalise," Funk told Judge Nolan at Wednesday's bond hearing. "Mr. Scalise is probably one of the most inappropriate men for bond," said Funk.

Scalise and Rachel were convicted in the 1980 theft of the famous Marlborough diamond from a London, England jewelry store. The men used guns and grenades to swipe the 45 carat diamond, forcing employees and early morning shoppers into submission onto the floor.

The armed robbery went downhill from there, however, when witnesses caught glimpse of a license plate on the thieves' getaway car that had been rented at Heathrow Airport.

By the time Rachel and Scalise high-tailed it back to Chicago, Scotland Yard had notified the FBI and agents were waiting at O'Hare to greet the mobsters' jetliner. They were prosecuted and imprisoned in the UK.

Regardless, defense attorneys for the pair and for an alleged accomplice, Robert "Bobby" Pullia, said that all three were good family men who would not run out on their wives and children just because of their current legal problems.

"He's entitled to bond," said attorney Ed Genson who is representing Scalise, a career thief and Chicago mobster. "He's going to come to court, he always comes to court. He believes in the system. We're going to do the best we can to get him out on bond and try the case. And that's what we always do. I don't think there's an issue that these guys are going to run away. I think the judge can fasten conditions which would allow him to get out on bond and properly prepare his case and when we go to trial we'll see what happens."

Scalise, whose nickname "Witherhand" is in tribute to a few missing fingers, was asked by the judge to come up with more than his $690,000 suburban home to post as bond for his freedom. Lawyer Genson said he had no idea how much additional bond money Scalise could raise. "It depends on how rich the people who I ask to post their property are," said Genson.

Defendant Art Rachel will be allowed home incarceration with an electronic GPS monitor and a $10,000 bond, according to the judge. Rachel's lawyer, Terry Gillespie, called the government's case "pretty weak. I haven't heard anything compelling to link Rachel to the case," he said.

Gillespie also disputed that stated contention that Mr. Rachel has a drinking problem. Even though Rachel takes "four shots of whiskey a day," Gillespie explained to the judge that is "moderate drinking."

Defendant Pullia will also be afforded home incarceration with a GPS monitor and a $200,000 bond. "He has nowhere to go," said Pullia's attorney, Marc Martin. "He's not going to do that to his wife. He's been married for 28 years."

Judge Nolan agreed. "I don't think any of these fellas would walk out on their family," she said.

One piece of evidence against the three hoodlums did bother judge Nolan. She was shown an FBI photo of a van that agents said was to be used as a getaway vehicle after a bank robbery. It had been equipped with peepholes and gun slits, so that the trio could shoot their way past any obstacles, said federal authorities. "This van is disturbing," said Judge Nolan.

Regardless, she agreed that they were entitled to bond, although she said that she would order them held at the MCC while the government appealed her bond ruling. The appeal will be heard by Judge Harry Leinenweber, who has been assigned the actual trial.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie

Not Guilty Pleas in Armored Car Robbery Plot

Three men, two of whom were convicted years ago of stealing the 45-carat Marlborough Diamond from a London jewelry store, pleaded not guilty today in federal court in Chicago to charges they plotted to rob a suburban armored car.

Joseph Scalise, Arthur Rachel and Robert Pullia were arrested as they allegedly prepared to burglarize the South Side home of a deceased mob boss. They were indicted on charges they conspired to pull off a robbery as cash was being delivered to a LaGrange bank.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Markus Funk explained to U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber how the three were preparing to try to steal shrink-wrapped cash that would be delivered to the bank but said they were thwarted "due to the good work of the FBI."

"And because our clients weren't there," answered lawyer Terrence Gillespie, who represents Rachel.

Lawyers on both sides told the judge a trial is likely.

Scalise, 73, Rachel, 71, and Pullia, 69, were under investigation for a 2007 holdup at another LaGrange bank when they allegedly were discovered planning their new bank job. They were taken into custody in burglary clothes as they allegedly planned to break into the home of the late Anthony "the Hook" LaPietra, a leader of the Chicago mob's Chinatown street crew.

Scalise and Rachel are reputed mob associates who served time for the Marlborough Diamond theft. More recently, Scalise acted as a technical adviser on the Johnny Depp film, "Public Enemies," about gangster John Dillinger.

Thanks to Jeff Coen

Monday, April 12, 2010

Reputed Chicago Outfit Jewel Thieves Arrested Outside of Former Home of Chinatown Boss

Two career jewel thieves in the Chicago Outfit, who are among the mob's most prolific pilferers, have been arrested again-- this time eyeing the home of their former boss, according to a federal complaint filed Friday afternoon.

During a short appearance in court, U.S. Magistrate Judge Nan Nolan ordered Joseph Jerome "Jerry" Scalise, Art Rachel and another hoodlum, Robert "Bobby" Pullia, held at the MCC without bond until a detention hearing next week. They were represented by high profile attorneys Terry Gillespie and Marc Martin. After court, Mr. Gillespie said that all three defendants would enter pleas of not guilty. He said questions about the existence of the Marlborough diamond would best be asked of the federal authorities, who declined to comment.

The men were arrested as they tried to hit the one-time home of Chinatown boss Angelo "the Hook" LaPietra. "The Hook," known for a fondness of hanging wayward gamblers on meat hooks, died in 1999. The arrests reportedly happened late Thursday night in the 3000-block of South Princeton, near LaPietra's former estate. For years Scalise lived in the Bridgeport neighborhood and reported to LaPietra.

The three men, still attired in the dark clothes they were wearing while allegedly staking out LaPietra's home, looked more like they were ready for a shuffleboard game then a burglary. Scalise is 73, Rachel is 71 and Pullia is 69 - and they told the judge about medications they are on, to insure adequate treatment at the MCC.

"I'm not sure exactly what they were expecting to get when they broke into the residence. The residence was occupied last night so it would have been a home invasion. Whether it was a robbery, whether they hoped to get ransom money, a kidnapping, we don't know," said Ross Rice, FBI spokesman.

"I heard a blast, like an M80 going off, like a firecracker. I said, 'who the hell is shooting firecrackers off this time of year?'" said Dan Bujas, neighbor.

The suspects ran a three-man crime wave for the past several years, according to the FBI, whose agents began following the trio last December and listening in on their phone calls after obtaining wiretap approval from a federal judge. An FBI affidavit filed with Friday's criminal complaint reveals cell phone conversations between the men that were intercepted by federal agents.

According to the affidavit, Pullia says, "while we are there we will grab it." Authorities are uncertain if the "it" they were going to grab was the long-missing Marlborough diamond. One theory has been that Scalise and Rachel handed off the stone in London or actually mailed to someone in the U.S., possibly their mob crew boss at the time, LaPietra.

Authorities say they watched the men conduct surveillance on several banks, including the First National Bank of LaGrange where they were allegedly plotting to overtake an armored car delivery of cash by spraying mace in the face of the guards. That hold-up, and others allegedly planned by the Outfit crew, were not actually carried out during the time that federal agents watched the men.

They are, however, suspected of numerous other unsolved bank robberies since 2007, according the federal investigators.

Scalise and Rachel are best known for the Sept. 11, 1980 theft of the famous Marlborough diamond from Graff Jewelers in London. The men were arrested at O'Hare Airport returning on a flight from the UK. They both served long stretched on the Isle of White prison of the UK. The 45 carat stone, once one of the Crown jewels, was never found.

The attempted break-in at LaPietra's former home is certain to spark speculation that the 45 carat sparkler was stashed somewhere in the home. The three men were arrested late Thursday night outside LaPietra's former "fortress" on the south side, carrying an elaborate supply of burglary tools according the feds. Investigators also say they had discussed abducting LaPietra relatives who still reside in the home and taking them hostage.

"All my client has told me so far is it's nonsense. I don't know any of the particulars as of yet," said Terry Gillespiel, defense lawyer.

The Marlborough heist in 1980 was pulled off by Scalise and Rachel, armed with a revolver and a hand grenade. They got away in less than a minute with millions of dollars in gems.

No one was hurt during the morning raid, and customers on the other two floors of the three-story shop were unaware of anything taking place.

A security guard let the first well-dressed thief into the exclusive store shortly after opening, thinking he was a customer.

Once inside the man - dressed in blue check pants, a jacket and a hat- pulled out a gun and ordered the staff and customers to lie down on the floor.

The second robber then walked in brandishing a hand grenade.

The Marlborough diamond, was packed into a briefcase with other jewels by the robbers before they fled to a getaway car parked about 50 yards away.

One of the store clerks followed the men and noted the registration number of the Fiat Mirafiore they used to escape.

The profanity-riddled affidavit also reveals discussions between Scalise and Rachel about potential mob murders, including the killing of a key witness from the Operation Family Secrets prosecution two years ago that resulted in numerous convictions of top mob bosses.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie


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