Notorious mob thief ups ante for freedom

Photo: Jerry Scalise

August 9, 2010 4:13:30 PM PDT
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?minus 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.


    Load Comments