Reputed mobster, diamond thief sentenced to prison

June 7, 2012 - 5:31 PM

CHICAGO (AP) — A reputed Chicago mobster who gained notoriety three decades ago for stealing the 45-carat Marlborough Diamond from a London jewelry store was sentenced to prison in another case Thursday, telling the judge he got involved in more robberies because he was bored.

Arthur "The Brain" Rachel, 73, was sentenced to 8½ years in prison for his involvement in planning robberies with two other accomplices, both of whom are also in their 70s. Before the sentencing, U.S. District Court Judge Harry Leinenweber asked Rachel why he got involved after spending nearly a decade in prison for the diamond heist.

"It's the way we are," Rachel responded. "We got nothing better to do. We sit around talking."

Rachel and Joseph "The Monk" Scalise staged a daring daytime theft of the Marlborough Diamond in 1980. Both men were convicted in Britain of threatening to use a hand grenade while robbing 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 diamond was never recovered.

Federal prosecutor Amarjeet Bhachu didn't mince words in characterizing Rachel, noting his long criminal history.

"This thug has the gall to ask for leniency when he does the same thing over and over," Bhachu told the court. "He is a parasite. He lives off of others. The public needs to be protected from this man."

Leinenweber found Rachel guilty in a bench trial, while his co-defendants — Scalise, 74, and Robert Pullia, 70 — pleaded guilty earlier.

Evidence presented during Rachel's trial included a banged-up stepladder that the would-be robbers intended to use in a 2010 burglary at the home of the 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.

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 earlier this year if the Marlborough Diamond could ever be located, Scalise said, "If Lloyd's wanted to pay enough money, maybe they could.