Feds link 'Witherhand' Scalise to 6 mob hits

August 16, 2010 (CHICAGO)

Federal prosecutors filed a motion on Monday connecting the convicted jewel thief to several infamous Outfit murders that were the basis for 2007 Family Secrets trial. The filing is an effort to keep Scalise in jail without bond to face charges that he was plotting bank robberies and the burglary of a late mob boss' home.

Calling him "a danger to the community" and "a flight risk," government attorneys disclosed that Scalise was once a member of the mob's notorious hit squad known as "The Wild Bunch." In the 1980's, gangland bosses tapped Wild Bunch assassins to track down and kill numerous targets who had ruffled Outfit feathers.

During the 2007 Family Secrets mob murders trial in Chicago, hit man-turned witness Nicholas Calabrese became named Scalise as a member of "The Wild Bunch". Calabrese testified as a government witness that Scalise was with "The Wild Bunch" on at least six mob hits. Among the gangland slayings were the murders of street tax collector William Dauber and his wife Charlotte, mob enforcer Sam Annerino, businessman Michael Cagnoni and adult book store owner Michael Oliver and Paul Haggerty, who was merely in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Nick's brother, defendant Frank Calabrese Sr., later took the stand and confirmed Scalice's membership in "The Wild Bunch." Calabrese Sr. testified that other members of the hit team were William "Butchie" Petrocelli, Tony Borsellino and Harry Aleman-all well-known Chicago hoodlums themselves.

The five major Family Secrets defendants were found guilty at trial and about a dozen others pleaded guilty. What isn't explained in the Monday filing by federal prosecutors is why Scalise wasn't charged if he was a member of the mob's most proficient murder team. "There is no comment about why he was not charged in that case" said Randall Samborn, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.

Scalise was charged in April along with Arthur "The Genius" Rachel, 71, and Robert "Bobby" Pullia, 69, 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 LaPietra's one time home with burglary tools, guns, ammo and communications equipment, according to federal agents.

At the time of their arrest, 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.

Also on Monday, prosecutors warned U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber that Scalise is skilled at using aliases. It was revealed by authorities in the court filing that a fake driver's license with Scalise's photograph, a bogus social security card and a clandestine Medicare card were recovered at the time of Scalise's arrest last spring. According to the government, Scalise used this false identity to rent a garage that housed a getaway cars and firearms.

Rachel and Pullia are both out on bond. Last week, Judge Leinenweber refused to free the 73-year old west suburban resident on bond. Instead, the judge returned the mobster's bond request to the federal magistrate who held his initial hearing last spring.

Today's filing is among the government last-ditch efforts to keep Scalise behind bars. They are throwing everything in his past at the court in an effort to deny bond. "He has multiple prior convictions, which include robbery (accomplished with the use of a grenade) and a serious drug offense" wrote prosecutors. "It is not sheer coincidence that the body of Michael Oliver, the owner of an adult book store who was murdered in 1979, was found buried within very close proximity to defendant Scalise's former residence, near the intersection of Route 83 and Bluff Road in DuPage County, Illinois."

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