Letter to friend may send mobster to prison

January 10, 2012 10:00:00 PM PST
Less than a week before three legendary Chicago mobsters go to trial, prosecutors say that one has already ''unofficially'' pleaded guilty.

Three legendary Chicago mobsters are scheduled to go on trial next week in federal court. Prosecutors say that one of them, Jerry Scalise, has ''unofficially'' pleaded guilty.

At the age of 74, Scalise's decades of service to the Chicago mob would certainly qualify him for a nice suite in an Outfit retirement home.

But, less than one week before Scalise and two of his underlings go to trial, the feds say they have caught Scalise "writing about wrong" in a letter they intercepted. Prosecutors say Scalise essentially confesses to the charges.

Scalise is best known for snatching the 45-carat Marlborough diamond from a British jewelry store in 1980. He ended up doing a long prison sentence in the United Kingdom.

When Scalise returned to the U.S., he also returned to the Chicago Outfit. Most recently, prosecutors say, he teamed up with Marlborough diamond cohort Art Rachel and mob soldier Bobby Pullia, both of them also in their 70s.

The geriatric trio next week is to be tried on charges they plotted suburban bank heists and other outfit burglaries. All have pleaded not guilty.

But federal authorities say they have obtained a letter written by Scalise to former Chicago police chief of detectives William Hanhardt, once the mob's man at police headquarters, now finishing a federal sentence for his role in an Outfit jewel theft ring.

In Scalise's letter to Hanhardt, he wrote that everyone in court looks at you as guilty and that defendants often forget they did do the crime. The only approach, Scalise wrote, is to make something else the issue to trick the jury.

While the letter has been sealed, in a court filing, federal prosecutors say that Scalise concedes guilt in the letter; and that it is devastating proof.

Scalise and crew also tried to rob the residence of former mob boss Angelo "the Hook" LaPietra, according to the government, targeting the home for hidden valuables after news reports that another Outfit boss, Frank Calabrese, had stashed money and jewels behind the basement walls of his house.

Scalise's attorneys have filed a motion to block the letter from being used at trial. No decision from the judge has been made.

A Scalise lawyer declined to comment about the letter.

Coincidentally, Scalise's pen pal, the former police chief of detectives, Hanhardt, is getting out of a prison halfway house on Friday after completing his sentence.


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