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Mobster, 74, on latest crimes: ‘We got nothing better to do’

Arthur Rachel with Mob ties arrives Dirsken Federal CourthouseTuesday January 17 2011. |  John H. White~Chicago Sun-Times.

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

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Updated: July 9, 2012 6:14AM

Among a chatty group of geriatric mob thieves, Arthur “The Genius” Rachel was the quiet one.

But not quiet enough.

When the thieves were talking about robbing an armored car outside a west suburban bank in April 2010, Rachel said he wanted “the biggest f------ gun” during the job, according to a conversation secretly recorded by the FBI.

When he was discussing with his longtime partner in crime, Joseph “Jerry” Scalise, about surveilling the home of a dead mob boss, Angelo “The Hook” LaPietra, so they could rob it, Rachel noted they “don’t want to get caught staring too much.”

On Thursday, when a federal judge asked him why he had continued his life of crime, Rachel had a brief explanation.

“We got nothing better to do,” he said.

Rachel, who was convicted in a January trial of racketeering and other crimes, was sentenced Thursday to nearly 8 1/2 years in prison, a possible death sentence for the 74-year-old man. His colleagues, Robert Pullia and Scalise — who has consulted on Hollywood movies — have pleaded guilty in the case and await sentencing.

Rachel and Scalise are notorious for stealing the Marlborough Diamond from a London jewelry store in 1980 and getting arrested quickly after.

Rachel got his nickname after scoring highly on a prison IQ test and teaching himself computer programming, but for such a smart guy, he’s been caught numerous times, including several convictions for bank robbery.

Rachel’s family and friends begged for mercy in letters to the judge, noting Rachel’s advanced age, but federal prosecutor Amarjeet Bhachu had a different take, calling Rachel at his sentencing a “parasite” and a “thug.”

Bhachu noted in court that Rachel would likely keep on committing crimes as long as he was breathing.

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