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No free pass for member of mob geriatric trio

August 10, 2010 5:04:19 PM PDT
When you're a career burglar, it is the little things that can make all the difference between getting caught and getting away. Jerry Scalise has been successful at both in his storied career.

On Tuesday in his latest case, Scalise learned that he isn't going anywhere quickly. U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber refused to free the 73-year old west suburban resident on bond. Instead, Judge Leinenweber returned the mobster's bond request to the federal magistrate who held his initial hearing last spring.

Scalise, whose politically incorrect mob moniker is "Witherhand," due to a deformed left hand, is the accused leader of a so-called "Geriatric Trio" of aging Chicago hoodlums. He was arrested in April with Arthur "The Genius" Rachel, 71, and Robert "Bobby" Pullia, 69, as they allegedly scouted banks to rob in the western suburbs. The photograph of Pullia above was taken today outside court and is the first contemporary picture of him.

All three suspects are represented by attorneys from a related law firm. Noting that such an arrangement could result in conflict of interests during legal proceedings, Judge Leinenweber asked the defendants if they had issues with that. The men agreed to have the attorneys continue their representation and waived any future conflict claims.

Scalise, who once grabbed a royal British diamond the size of an egg with his good hand, was hoping for a quick release on Tuesday after his attorney Edward Genson filed a motion with details of additional property that had been secured "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.

Pullia and Rachel, who appeared in court on Tuesday for routine status hearings, are already out on bond. 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-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, 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.

No court date has been set in front of Magistrate Nan Nolan for Scalise to argue to that he deserves bail. However, it is expected that he will offer to post the following property as collateral:

  • 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."


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