Elderly mobster guilty in planned break-in at mob boss’ home

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Art Rachel, with Mob ties, arrives at Dirsken Federal Courthouse,Tuesday, January 17 2011. | John H. White~Chicago Sun-Times.

Maybe “The Genius” isn’t so smart after all.

Arthur “The Genius” Rachel, a 73-year-old mob thief, was found guilty Thursday of racketeering and other crimes for planning to rob an armored car outside a west suburban bank and break into the home of a dead mob boss in Bridgeport.

Rachel is perhaps best known for stealing the 45-carat Marlborough Diamond and other baubles in 1980 from a London jewelry store.

“The Genius” was put in prison for that crime too, although the diamond was never recovered.

Rachel’s senior-citizen partner in crime in the Marlborough Diamond theft, Joseph Jerry “The Monk” Scalise, was arrested along with Rachel for these latest crimes, too.

Scalise pleaded guilty last week, along with another geriatric criminal, Robert “Bobby” Pullia, as part of plea deals. The three men could each face about 9 years in prison.

They might be old but that doesn’t mean they weren’t dangerous, authorities said.

“It only takes one functioning finger to pull the trigger of a gun,” federal prosecutor Amarjeet Bhachu said.

Bhachu praised the FBI agents on the case, led by Agent Christopher Smith, who tailed the three thieves for months. The old thieves were often a challenge to keep under surveillance, since they would pull over while driving, drive at a snail’s pace or turn around in parking lots to see if anyone was tailing them.

At one point, the FBI did aerial surveillance of the men.

Most damning, though, were hours of secretly recorded conversations from a bug the FBI had put in Scalise’s van.

U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber, hearing the case as a bench trial, found “overwhelming evidence” that Rachel engaged in racketeering.

While Rachel was spotted only once surveilling the bank, he was caught on the FBI recording saying he wanted to have “the biggest f—— gun” during the robbery.

Rachel was much more extensively involved in surveilling the house of the late Chinatown mob boss Angelo “The Hook” LaPietra,

The three men were arrested before committing either crime.

The men hatched plenty of other plots, too, from talk of robbing large-scale pot dealers to breaking into the home of Oscar D’Angelo, a pal of former Mayor Daley.

They even figured where they would launder their loot – a currency exchange secretly owned by brutal mob loan shark James “Jimmy I” Inendino, records show.

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