Despite a lifetime in the outfit, 74-year-old Art Rachel wants leniency and has enlisted family and friends to lobby the judge who will sentence him.
Rachel didn't get his mob nickname "the Genius" for nothing. Rachel is apparently not interested in spending his golden years behind iron bars. On the eve of Rachel's sentencing by a federal judge, he is hoping that a flurry of kind words will keep him out of prison -- or at least limit his time there.
With his old outfit friends Jerry "the Monk" Scalise and Robert "Bobby" Pullia, Rachel surprised federal authorities by planning a crime spree in their golden years.
The plan? Rob a suburban armored bank car and break into the home of deceased outfit kingpin Angelo 'the Hook' LaPietra, tying up his daughter who still lives there and robbing the place.
But the FBI caught wind of the plot and arrested the three in 2010 as they cased LaPietra's bridgeport home.
Scalise and Pullia pleaded guilty, but Rachel requested a bench trial, saying he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
But, between photos of the caper tools -- including what Rachel called his "really big gun" -- and the government's extensive surveillance tapes, Judge Harry Leinenweber found him guilty and will soon issue a sentence.
Rachel has been here before, at least nine other times for robbery, including the infamous 1980 theft of the 45-carat Marlborough diamond from a London jeweler using a hand grenade.
Now that he is facing what could amount to a life sentence, letters on Rachel's behalf have been sent to the judge. His sister Barbara calls Rachel "a caring and giving man;" she fears "that he will die in prison and we will never see him again."
Rachel's younger brother Ted writes: "My brother is a good person" ... give him "the chance to come home again and be with us while we are all still alive."
A friend from the "old neighborhood" in Bridgeport noted, "Art's mom, a single mother of six, died at 45. His dad, an alcoholic, left his family when their children were young. Art was the caretaker."
And an 81-year-old former fellow inmate at Leavenworth writes that he "spent considerable time with Arthur learning how to live peacefully in an environment where violence was everywhere."
That ex-con from Leavenworth has even told the judge that, if he spares Rachel from prison, his old jailmate can move in with him in Arizona.
Rachel was supposed to be sentenced Wednesday, but it was put postponed until Thursday morning. He remains on home confinement in a Chicago senior citizen apartment building.