John Cochran's report from 1980 on the theft of the 45 carat Marlboro diamond from a London jewelry store
A key figure in a legendary jewel heist attributed to the Chicago mob and his alleged accomplices are in court Tuesday to face charges that they tried to rob a former partner.
All three defendants are in their 70s.
Joseph "Jerry" Scalise, Arthurr "The Genius" Rachel and Robert "Bobby" Pullia, are accused of trying to rob the home of Angelo "The Hook" Pietra, in an attempt to recover what might be a rare diamond, or the proceeds from its sale.
Scalise, a mob enforcer who served a lengthy 13-year prison sentence for the theft of the 45 carat Marlboro diamond from a London jewelry store along with Rachel, was picked up in April 2010 for .
Thirty years ago, following the spectacular daytime jewelry store robbery where nearly $4 million in jewels were taken, Scalise and Rachel, were arrested on a return flight from London. But the diamond, valued at nearly $1 million dollars, has never been recovered.
A mob accomplice said it was his understanding that Scalise had simply mailed the famous diamond back to the United States before boarding his return flight from London. Local mob watchers have long suspected the gem was cut up and sold.
Scalise made news again in 1989 when bodies began to be unearthed on property near his home near Argonne national laboratory in the far western suburbs. Federal investigators carried out extensive investigations of the "mob burial ground," but Scalise was never charged.
As recently as a few years ago, Scalise served as a consultant on the John Dillinger biopic, "Public Enemies".
At the time of the movie's release last year, director Michael Mann defended his employment of such a notorious criminal, telling the LA Times he wanted to know what it was like inside a robber's psyche.
"Jerry is an armed robber," Mann said. "He once stole the Marlboro Diamond which was as big as a grapefruit! He's a real Chicago guy."
If convicted, all three men would face the remainder of their natural life in prison. Jury selection begins on Tuesday.