Aging reputed Chicago mobster found guilty

Jan 27, 2012, 2:39 AM

Associated Press

CHICAGO (AP) – A federal judge on Thursday convicted a 73-year-old reputed Chicago mobster who first gained notoriety three decades ago for helping to steal the 45-carat Marlborough Diamond from a London jewelry store.

Arthur “The Brain” Rachel grimaced, turned to one of his attorneys and shook his head slightly after Judge Harry Leinenweber found him guilty in the bench trial on three of four counts, including racketeering for his involvement in several planned robberies.

Co-defendants Joseph “The Monk” Scalise, 74, and Robert Pullia, 70, pleaded guilty last week. Scalise was an accomplice with Rachel in what at the time was seen as a daring, daytime theft of the Marlborough Diamond, which was never recovered.

The Chicago trial, which was not connected to the jewelry theft, attracted attention partly because of the defendants’ advanced ages when they’re accused of plotting robberies several years ago.

Prosecutor Amarjeet Bhachu told reporters after Thursday’s verdict that the men were far from harmless, elderly goofs.

“You don’t need to be a weightlifter to pull the trigger on a firearm,” he said. “These men were dedicated to hurting other people. The fact that they were old wasn’t a barrier to the crimes.”

Rachel, who was acquitted on a lone weapons charge, did not speak to reporters as he left the courthouse Thursday.

The judge set a May 30 sentencing date for Rachel. He is expected to get a prison term of around 10 years.

Among the evidence brought to court was a banged-up stepladder the would-be robbers intended to use in the 2010 burglary at the home of late Chicago mobster Angelo “The Hook” LaPietra. Authorities arrested the senior citizens, dressed in black, outside the house.

They had also planned to rob an armored car, prosecutors said.

Scalise and Rachel were convicted in Britain of using a hand grenade as a threat in 1980 to rob London’s posh Graff Jewelers of $3.6 million worth of goods, including the diamond. They began serving 15-year prison terms in 1984 and were released in 1993.

The FBI has said Scalise’s resume included serving as a technical adviser on the movie “Public Enemies” about Depression Era gangster John Dillinger, which was filmed in Chicago in 2008.

Asked by reporters as he left court last week if the Marlborough Diamond could ever be located, Scalise said, “If Lloyd’s wanted to pay enough money, maybe they could.”

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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Aging reputed Chicago mobster found guilty