Chicago Sun-Times
Inside the Family Secrets mob trial with Sun-Times reporter Steve Warmbir

April 2010 Archives

Tools of the trade

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Federal prosecutors on Thursday released new photographs of the alleged work garage of three reputed mob burglars, as they argued in court papers that the men should remain behind bars.

One photograph shows the white work van allegedly kept by Joseph "Jerry" "The Monk" Scalise who was arrested with two other men last month on charges they were conspiring to rob an armored car outside a bank in west suburban LaGrange.

The getaway van has on the side a horizontal slot for someone inside to look out of, and a vertical gun port that prosecutors allege the men could have used to shoot out of at any police who were pursuing them.

See the pictures after the jump.

Chicago FBI agents on Wednesday morning were searching the home of the
late feared mob leader Angelo "The Hook" LaPietra, which had been the
recent target of burglars who believed a fortune had been stashed
there, including possibly, the 45-carat Marlborough Diamond.

The search began Wednesday morning at the fortress-like home at 30th
and Princeton in the Bridgeport neighborhood, the Chicago Sun-Times
has learned. Agents were apparently interested in seeing if they could
recover any stolen items.

Last month, three men, including Joseph "Jerry" "The Monk" Scalise,
were arrested as they were allegedly casing out the home for a
burglary.

Scalise and one of his partners, Arthur "The Genius" Rachel, were
arrested in 1980 after stealing the Marlborough Diamond from a London
jewelry store. While the men were sentenced to prison for their crime,
the diamond was never recovered, and its fate has been the subject of
decades of speculation.

It was unclear if federal agents were executing a search warrant or if
they were searching the home with the consent of the owner. LaPietra's
daughter still lives in the home and has not been accused of any
wrongdoing.

The search comes after federal agents recently went through the home
of another mobster, Frank Calabrese Sr. FBI agents found more than $1
million in cash and jewelry in that search last month, much of it
hidden in a secret storage area behind a family portrait.

A federal judge is expected to rule May 19 on whether Joseph "Jerry"
"The Monk" Scalise and two colleagues will be released on bond after they were charged with planning to rob an armored car outside a west suburban LaGrange bank.

On Wednesday, a federal magistrate judge suggested she might let Scalise out on bond if he could get enough people to post property on his behalf for bond. She set bond for the two men arrested with him, Arthur "The Genius" Rachel and Robert "Bobby" Pullia.

Federal prosecutors got that decision put on hold while they appeal it to the federal judge hearing the case. That means none of the men will be released anytime soon. U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber has set a schedule for the lawyers to present their arguments and said he will rule on the matter May 19.

Former Berwyn police officer James Formato pleaded guilty Thursday and agreed to cooperate in the federal criminal case against reputed Cicero crew leader Michael Sarno and allegedly high-ranking Outlaw motorcycle member Mark Polchan.

Formato admitted to racketeering conspiracy and conspiring to obstruct justice.

As part of his plea agreement, he agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.

More to come.

Joseph Jerry "The Monk" Scalise and two associates were indicted Thursday for planning to rob a west suburban bank, starting in March 2009.

The men -- Scalise, Robert Pullia and Arthur Rachel -- were previously charged in a criminal complaint for the same crime, and the indictment, a formal legal step, adds no new facts to the ones already publicly available.

What the move does for federal prosecutors is send the three elderly men, all in custody, for an arraignment and cancel the preliminary hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nan Nolan next Wednesday.

Nolan had given at least some indication that she might release one or more of the men on bond, and this move effectively takes that decision out of her hands.

Reputed mob bomber Sam Volpendesto, who's 86, wants out of jail before his trial starts later this year.

Federal judges have denied his requests several times already, but that hasn't stopped Volpendesto from trying again.

In a court filing Volpendesto submitted earlier this month, he asks the judge to reconsider his release for a number of factors:

"The defendant," Volpendesto writes, referring to himself, "in his current physical condition is no threat to any community unless he used his wheelchair as a get away mode of of transportation which is very unlikely."

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