The Chicago Syndicate: Joseph Scalise
Showing posts with label Joseph Scalise. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Joseph Scalise. Show all posts

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Joseph Scalise and Robert Pullia Plead Guilty

Reputed Chicago mobster Joseph Scalise pleaded guilty today on the eve of trial to plotting a series of strong-armed robberies, including an armored car heist and the holdup of the home of a deceased mob boss.

Scalise, 73, said after court that the offer from federal prosecutors was too good to refuse. He and co-defendant Robert Pullia, 70, who also pleaded guilty, both face about 9 to 10 years in prison under the deal. “I think we could have won at trial,” said a relaxed and smiling Scalise, 73. “You just got to be realistic.”

Scalise’s co-defendant, Robert Pullia, 70, also pleaded guilty, but a third defendant, Arthur Rachel, 73, plans to go ahead with a bench trial slated for Thursday before U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber.

Scalise and Pullia are scheduled to be sentenced May 10.

All three have convictions that stretch back to the 1960s and long, storied histories in Chicago.

Scalise and Rachel, both of whom have reputed ties to the Chicago Outfit, were convicted of robbing a London jeweler in 1980 of gems worth $3.4 million, including the 45-carat Marlborough diamond, which is still missing.

Outside court, Scalise remained coy about the gem’s whereabouts – hinting that the insurance company that covered its loss might be able to buy the answer. “If Lloyd’s wanted to pay enough money, maybe they could (find out where it is),” said Scalise, whose attorneys said is not cooperating with authorities.

Scalise, who has consulted with Hollywood producers on movie plots, also told reporters he was writing a book.

Pullia, meanwhile, left the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse without commenting but asked his attorney, Marc Martin, to make one statement to the court and reporters on his behalf. “Mr. Pullia is not cooperating,” Martin said.

Thanks to Annie Sweeney

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

Monday, May 04, 2009

Unseen Victims from Mob Killings

Deputy U.S. Marshal John Ambrose -- convicted last week of passing information to the Chicago Outfit about a top mob witness -- was only 7 years old when Joe the janitor was found dead.

So he probably didn't read the small 1975 Tribune story about the body of the 33-year-old janitor found in the basement of Chalmers Elementary School on the West Side. Chicago detectives said the janitor suffered a massive heart attack. But a mortician at the Daniel Lynch Funeral Home in Evergreen Park made an amazing discovery along The Chicago Way.

There was a hole in the back of Joe the janitor's head. A heart attack didn't make that hole. A .22-caliber bullet was found lodged in the brain of the janitor.

His name? Joseph Lipuma.

A couple of weeks later, Lipuma's friend and alleged stolen-goods dealer Ronald Magliano, 42, was found shot to death in his South Side home. The home had been set ablaze, an Outfit practice to destroy evidence. Detectives figured the two murders were related, but no arrests were made.

Two years later, a friend of Joe's and Ronnie's was killed in a sensational daytime Outfit hit. Mobster Sam Annerino was chewed up by three men with shotguns outside Mirabelli's Furniture store in Oak Lawn. The Outfit had sway in Oak Lawn. The town's motto? "Be prudent, stay safe."

A few miles to the east in Evergreen Park lived Joe Lipuma's young nephew. A top student at Evergreen Park High School, an excellent athlete, he was so impressive that he was accepted as a cadet at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. But he didn't like the military life, came home after a year, went to law school, and became a federal prosecutor before becoming a criminal defense attorney.

Recently, at John Ambrose's trial, I met that man. He was John Ambrose's attorney, Francis Lipuma, Joe's nephew. I disagree with him about Ambrose, but I couldn't help admiring his skill in the courtroom.

"I was just a kid -- a freshman -- when my uncle was killed," Frank Lipuma told me the other day after the Ambrose guilty verdict. "All I really remember about it was pain. Pain and sadness throughout my house, throughout my family."

Just in case you think I'm drawing some nefarious inference about Frank Lipuma, let me be clear: I'm not.

Lipuma was an assistant U.S. attorney in Chicago. To become a federal prosecutor, applicants must undergo a rigorous FBI background check.

They reach back into your childhood, interview your friends from elementary school and scrub your family. If there were anything there, the FBI would have found it. But what they did find was a young man who felt the pain of his Uncle Joe's death but never learned why he was killed.

"I do remember the funeral home found he'd been shot, and that police thought it was a heart attack, but someone had put a gun behind his ear," Frank Lipuma told me. "It was terrible, all that pain in the family then. He was involved with people. There was just speculation. He knew Annerino, they said. I was just a kid playing baseball, trying to get to college."

Through weeks of testimony in Ambrose's trial, we heard about the Outfit informant he was supposed to protect: the deadly hit man turned star government witness in the historic Family Secrets case, Nicholas Calabrese.

Calabrese was in the federal witness protection program. Ambrose was convicted of leaking information to the mob about what Calabrese told the feds concerning dozens and dozens of unsolved Outfit murders.

One of the murders involved Annerino, the friend of Joe Lipuma and Ronnie Magliano who was known as "Sam the Mule."

The leaked information was contained in the FBI's 2002 threat assessment detailing Nick Calabrese's cooperation, a document prosecutors alleged was read by Ambrose before he leaked details of it to the mob through an Outfit messenger boy:

"Nicholas Calabrese will testify that he, along with Joseph LaMantia, Frank Calabrese Sr. and Frank Saladino, planned and attempted to murder Samuel Annerino. Ronald Jarrett, who is deceased [murdered], also participated in the planning. ... Though the attempt was unsuccessful, Nicholas Calabrese later learned that the murder was later carried out by Joseph Scalise. William Petrocelli and Anthony Borsellino also participated in the murder, but are deceased."

I asked Frank Lipuma if he became a federal prosecutor in part to find out who killed his Uncle Joe, but he wouldn't say: "I couldn't find any hard facts. I deal in facts."

The Chicago Outfit has many victims, and some might consider Ambrose to be one of them. He wanted to ingratiate himself with the bosses. He'll soon be fired from federal service and may even serve prison time. Joe Lipuma was a victim, too, and so was his family.

Murder isn't just between killer and target, especially Outfit murders. The victims are found among living survivors, legitimate folk spaced apart, often unknowing, as if on a vine reaching back through time, remembering.

Thanks to John Kass

Monday, July 30, 2007

Gangster Graveyard

Friends of ours: Joseph "Jerry" Scalise, Ken "Tokyo Joe" Eto, Joseph Ferriola, Gerald Scarpelli, James Peter Basile, Harry Aleman

After learning his mobster brothers planned to kill him, the stocky bank robber figured his only way out alive was to turn FBI informant.

So, for 16 months, the self-professed soldier secretly recorded 186 conversations with his Chicago Outfit associates. He also detailed about 40 unsolved mob murders.

It was during one of those chats that FBI agent Jack O'Rourke said his informant nonchalantly mentioned a mob graveyard in southeast DuPage County near the former home of syndicate enforcer Joseph "Jerry" Scalise, imprisoned at the time for a London jewelry heist. "What are you talking about?" O'Rourke, now a private consultant, recalls asking. "He said it was common knowledge."

For five months, an elite FBI-led task force excavated many acres near Route 83 and Bluff Road, near Darien. They found bodies of two low-level wise guys before calling it quits in October 1988.

Nearly 20 years later, the group's early intelligence work remains significant. It laid part of the foundation for the Family Secrets trial under way in Chicago in which five defendants are accused of racketeering conspiracy in an indictment that outlines 18 murders, gambling and extortion.

A construction crew also resurrected the field's ominous past in March 2007 after unearthing a third body just north of the site.

It's unknown if more vanquished mobsters remain there undiscovered. A fabled 45-carat gem known as the Marlborough diamond that Scalise stole also was never found. Some theorize he hid it on his property. And, finally, just who is the turncoat who led FBI agents long ago to the burial site?

For decades, Chicago gambling kingpin Ken "Tokyo Joe" Eto was a loyal soldier. That changed in February 1983 when he survived three gunshots in a botched hit. Eto played possum, and later turned informant. His would-be killers were later found dead in a trunk in Naperville - the price for not getting the job done right.

Eto proved to be a valued government witness before his Jan. 23, 2004 death, but he was not the one who led authorities to the graveyard. His attempted assassination, though, in part sparked the formation of the organized crime task force of FBI, Chicago, state and local officials in the mid-1980s to curb such mob violence.

An early goal was to bring down the crime family or "crew" of mob boss Joseph Ferriola of Oak Brook, who operated lucrative gambling rackets from Cicero to Lake County until his 1989 death.

Members of the task force said they focused on Gerald Scarpelli, who along with Scalise, known as Whiterhand because he was born minus four fingers, were Ferriola's busiest hitmen.

About this time, another mob guy started getting cold feet. O'Rourke identified him as James Peter Basile, a convicted Chicago bank robber best known as "Duke." Basile already had the FBI zeroing in on him for a 1983 race track robbery in Crete. So, after he also learned Scarpelli, his longtime associate, was planning to kill him, Basile realized he had no other choice but to break the mob's code of silence.

For 16 months, he helped the FBI listen in on his chats with Scarpelli and other associates before serving a few years in prison for the race track robbery and slipping into a witness protection program in the early 1990s.

Basile re-emerged briefly in June 1996 at a U.S. Senate judiciary committee hearing. "I finally decided to do something because it seemed there was no way out," he testified. "I began informing on the mob."

It was during one of his recordings of Scarpelli that the FBI first learned of the DuPage County graveyard. Basile later took them to the site, near Scalise's former home. The FBI heard there could be as many as seven bodies buried in the field.

It was painstaking work. For five months, task force members traded in suits, badges and guns for jeans, chain saws and shovels. They dug up acres of soil, trees and drained a pond. Members hand sifted truckloads of dirt through mesh screens for trace evidence. "We were meticulous," said Jerry Buten, a retired 30-year FBI supervisor. "This was way before CSI, but we knew the way you solve most major crimes was through physical evidence."

Authorities speculated the field held victims of the infamous chop shop wars of the 1970s, when the mob seized control of the stolen auto-parts trade and wiped out uncooperative dealers.

State police stood guard 24 hours a day. Large canopies were erected to block circling media helicopters. But they weren't the only pests. "I gave an order that anyone who came in was given a pair of work gloves because I got tired of all the suits showing up just to look at us," former DuPage Coroner Richard Ballinger said. "We'd spend 12 hours out there, come back to the office to do more work and sleep, then go back out the next morning."

On May 16, 1988, members unearthed the first skeletal remains. On June 9, a second shallow grave was found. Both men were shot to death.

Authorities brought in experts from across the country, from archaeologists to soil scientists, including top forensic anthropologist Dr. Clyde Snow of Oklahoma. Snow had identified the remains of Nazi war criminal Josef Mengele in Brazil and some victims of John Wayne Gacy and the 1979 American Airlines crash near O'Hare.

Using dental records and facial reconstruction, Snow relied mostly on computerized skull-face superimposition to identify the corpses. The second body, buried in a ski mask and with a cache of pornographic materials, was that of Michael S. Oliver, 29, a Chicago machinist who vanished November 1979.

In the FBI recordings, Scarpelli is heard saying that Oliver was a minor hoodlum shot during a syndicate raid on an independent porn shop near Elk Grove Village.

Not sure how to dump the body, in a scene similar to that in Martin Scorsese's "GoodFellas," his underworld pals talked over a bite to eat as the corpse sat in the trunk.

It took more than one year to identify remains in the first grave as Robert "Bobbie" Hatridge, a 56-year-old Cincinnati man with a distinctive Dick Tracy square jaw, flat feet and a flair for fashion. The FBI said his girlfriend later told agents that Hatridge came to Chicago in April 1979 to meet with Scalise and Scarpelli about a big robbery. He never made it home.

Basile's graveyard tip was considered one of the task force's first big scoops. Nearly 20 years later, its intelligence work reverberates still.

The secret tapes Basile made led to Scarpelli's arrest in July 1988. He killed himself a year later, but not before making a 500-page confession that exposed many mob secrets. He also admitted to 10 murders, including some in the Family Secrets trial.

The task force also made history with another big bust. It brought down Ferriola's nephew, Harry Aleman, for killing a union steward in 1977. He was acquitted, then retried and convicted. Aleman, 68, and still in prison, is the only person tried twice for the same crime. Double jeopardy was discarded after it was learned his first judge took a bribe. "The entire (Ferriola) crew was prosecuted as a result of the task force," Buten said. "It marked the beginning of the Chicago Outfit's end."

The mob graveyard made news again in March when crews building townhouses unearthed a third body several blocks north of the field near 91st Street.

The remains were identified as Robert Charles Cruz of Kildeer, who vanished Dec. 4, 1997. Cruz, who was Aleman's cousin, had been on Arizona's death row just two years earlier until his conviction for a 1980 double murder was overturned.

The discovery of his body begs the question - Could more graves be found there?

Members searched far and wide, with one exception. At the time, a large drug rehab facility was being built there. Many wonder if beneath its foundation lie the bodies of more hoodlums. It's possible, task force members say, but unlikely. The bodies were unearthed in shallow graves less than 5 feet deep. They argue crews dug deeper when laying the foundation and probably would have found more graves if they existed.

Also still missing is the fabled $960,000 Marlborough diamond that Scalise stole during a 1980 London jewelry store heist. It was once owned by Sir Winston Churchill's cousin, the duchess of Marlborough.

Years ago, O'Rourke visited Scalise in his cell on England's Isle of Wight - the British version of Alcatraz - where he was imprisoned for the jewelry heist. "Scalise would do a lot of talking but never say anything," O'Rourke said. "Informants told us he shipped it to Chicago, where it was broken up and sold."

Scalise, 69, has kept a low profile since returning to the Chicago area after finishing an Arizona prison stint on drug charges. But, long ago, he was rumored to be working on his memoirs.

So far, though, he has upheld the mob's code of silence.

Thanks to Christy Gutowski

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