Verdict due in trial of Chicago mobster 'the Brain'

January 24, 2012 4:36:51 PM PST
One of Chicago's most notorious mob figures now knows when he will learn his fate after a short trial. In this Intelligence Report: The racketeering evidence against Arthur "the Brain" Rachel.

Art Rachel's bench trial lasted only a few days, and Tuesday, when a notice was posted on the federal court website, at first it looked like the judge had a verdict to announce. But it was nothing but a teaser for the mobster known as "the Brain."

The judge posted an alert that he will have a verdict Thursday morning in the government's case against 73-year-old Art Rachel.

Regardless of the outcome, Bridgeport resident Rachel already left his mark on Chicago mob-dom. Rachel and outfit master thief Jerry "One Arm" Scalise were arrested more than 30 years ago, returning from London, where they had just swiped the 45-carat Marlborough diamond from a posh jewelry store.

They both did lengthy prison sentences in the UK, reuniting back in Chicago, according to federal authorities, in a burglary crew targeting banks and high-end jewelery stores in the suburbs.

Their accomplice was Robert "Bobby" Pullia. Just before a jury trial was to begin, both Pullia and Scalise surprised mob-watchers by pleading guilty, leaving the "the Brain" to fend for himself.

In a bench trial before Judge Harry Leinenweber, the government threw all its evidence at Rachel, pictures of the burglary tools, clothing and disguises, guns and ammo including what they claimed was "a really big gun" favored by Rachel, and pictures of the surveillance and getaway vehicles the crew built, including one fortified with secret gun holes to shoot through.

Prosecutors turned over high-tech aerial surveillance video of the crew in action, taken from a specially-outfitted airplane cruising quietly at 8,500 feet, honing in on their every movement. The video, accompanied by numerous undercover audio tapes, prompted the government in its written closing argument to tell Judge Leinenweber that Rachel should be found guilty.

Because this is a bench trial, and the defense has no jury to play to, they are invoking a unique legal argument in an effort to convince the judge to acquit Rachel.

In the defense closing, attorney Terry Gillespie said, "The not whether Arthur Rachel committed a...crime--it is whether the prosecution has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed the crimes." They say the government has failed to prove Rachel was in the conspiracy.