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Geriatric Mob Thieves Get Nearly 9 Years For Plotting Heists

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Reputed mobsters Robert Pullia (left) and Jerry Scalise (right) enter the Dirksen Federal Building before pleading guilty to planning a series of robberies on Jan. 18, 2012. (Credit: CBS)

Reputed mobsters Robert Pullia (left) and Jerry Scalise (right) enter the Dirksen Federal Building before pleading guilty to planning a series of robberies on Jan. 18, 2012. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Call them the Medicare Mob – two members of a crew of Chicago mobsters in their 70s were sentenced to nearly 9 years in prison for plotting a pair of heists.

CBS 2’s John “Bulldog” Drummond reports ringleader Joseph “Jerry” Scalise, 74, had pleaded guilty earlier this year to plotting to rob an armored truck, and break into the Bridgeport home of a dead Outfit boss, the feared Angelo “The Hook” LaPietra.

Scalise’s attorneys asked the judge for mercy at his sentencing hearing, but was still sentenced to 8 years and 10 months in prison.

Outside court, Assistant U.S. Atty. Amarjeet Bhachu said, “It’s somewhat incredible to suggest that you should be given mercy, when you’ve devoted yourself over your life to the commission of criminal activity. This is a man, as I said in court, who gets a thrill in committing crimes.”

Defense attorney Marc Martin said, “It’s a hard, negotiated plea agreement. We’re pleased that the judge gave the lowest sentence possible, under the circumstances, but it’s still a long time.”

A Scalise cohort, 70-year-old Bobby Pullia, also pleaded guilty in the case earlier this year, and was given the same sentence on Wednesday.

Scalise – a suspect in several armored truck capers and a half-dozen unsolved gangland slayings – achieved international notoriety when he and confederate Arthur “The Brain” Rachel robbed a high-end London, jewelry store in 1980.

The swag included the 45-carat egg-shaped Marlborough Diamond, considered by experts at the time to be one of the world’s most magnificent gems. About 20 diamonds, necklaces and other jewels were looted from the jewelry showcase windows.

Despite an intensive investigation, the Marlborough Diamond and the rest of the booty have not been recovered.

Defense attorney Ed Genson said, “I have no idea what happened to the Marlborough Diamond. They’ve never recovered it. He was found guilty of taking it, and no one’s seen it since.”

Rachel, 73, was also convicted earlier this year in the plot to rob the armored truck and break into LaPietra’s home. He was sentenced to about 8 years in prison.

Although the trio’s sentences were not as long as they could have been, they still face more than 8 years behind bars, when all three are already in their 70s.

U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber — who is also in his 70s — cited the defendants’ ages in his decision to shave eight months off their sentences.

Leinenweber also chastised the defendants for wasting their lives on a career of crime.

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