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Chicago thief, 74, pleads guilty to racketeering

A 74-year-old reputed mobster notorious for stealing the 45-carat Marlborough Diamond from a London jewelry store in 1980 pleaded guilty Wednesday in a separate case in Chicago just as his trial was set to begin.

Joseph "The Monk" Scalise and one of his two co-defendants, 70-year-old Robert Pullia, pleaded guilty in federal court to racketeering and other charges. Under their plea deals, each will get a roughly nine-year prison term when they are sentenced in May. The third defendant, 73-year-old Arthur Rachel, is scheduled to proceed to a bench trial, starting Thursday.

The men were arrested in April 2010 after months of FBI surveillance. In addition to a long arrest record, the FBI said Scalise's resume included serving as a technical adviser on the movie "Public Enemies" about Depression Era gangster John Dillinger, which was filmed in Chicago in 2008.

Scalise and Rachel were convicted in a British court of being the two men who in 1980, using a hand grenade as a threat, robbed posh Graff Jewelers in central London of $3.6 million worth of goods including the big diamond. The gem was never found.

Asked by reporters outside court Wednesday if it could ever be located, Scalise said, "If Lloyd's wanted to pay enough money, maybe they could."

Carried out in daylight, the Marlborough diamond robbery was big news in Britain. Scalise and Rachel began serving 15-year prison terms in 1984 and were released in 1993.

Prosecutors have said Scalise and his two elderly cohorts plotted several robberies, including at the home of a late Chicago mob boss.

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