Tapes Show Former Cop Planning Extortion Plot

Thursday, Feb 13, 2014  |  Updated 2:48 PM CDT
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Prosecutors played audiotapes in court Wednesday that appear to show a former Chicago officer planning to abduct, torture and kill a businessman.

Prosecutors played audiotapes in court Wednesday that appear to show a former Chicago officer planning to abduct, torture and kill a businessman.

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Prosecutors played audiotapes in court Wednesday that appear to show a former Chicago officer planning to abduct, torture and kill a businessman.

Steven Mandell, 62, who served on the Chicago Police Department from 1973 to 1983, is accused of a number of extortion plots, including one where he and a government informant man planned to turn businessman Steve Campbell's private parts into a "banana split."

The tapes were recorded in the Milwaukee Avenue office of the informant, George Michael, a North Shore real estate mogul and former banker.

In a Sept. 27, 2012 conversation, Mandell appears to be speculating how much money they might get from Campbell.

Michael: Let's make some money. Let's make our time productive.
Mandell: Soupy's got to be (inaudible)
Michael: Soupy's got a umm, Soupy's got a HELOC [home equity line of credit] loan on his house. He's telling me that he's generating money from rentals from 25 separate properties, without the obligation of a mortgage payment.
Mandell: Isn't that sweet?
Michael: (laughing) That's what that tells me.
Mandell: (inaudible) Do you like that?
Michael: And he's telling me that he's had that for over 20 years.
Mandell: I'd be surprised if we don't pick up a hundred piece easy.

On the tapes, the two men also discuss the lease and decorating details of a storefront at 5308 West Devon which they were building out to be the torture chamber

Mandell says the conversation was all talk, and he never intended to do any of the things he talked about or to use the torture room that he built.

Michael secretly recorded Mandell as he and another man, Gary Engel, a former Willow Springs police officer, allegedly plotted to torture and kill Campbell in the killing chamber they called "Club Med" after they forced the him to turn over some of his real estate.

Mandell and Engel were arrested shortly after the recording was made, and just before prosecutors say they were planning to carry out their plan. They were charged with attempted extortion and conspiracy to commit extortion in a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court. Engel hanged himself in prison the following month.

According to the criminal complaint, the agents found a loaded .22 caliber semi-automatic pistol, ammunition, saws, a butcher knife and zip-ties for possible use as restraints at the location where the defendants allegedly planned to carry out the actions.

Mandell has previously served more than 14 years behind bars for multiple convictions, and is suspected of at least half-a-dozen murders over the years. He was sentenced to death for a 1990 slaying, only to have his conviction overturned on appeal. He won a $6.5 million civil case for wrongful conviction against the FBI in 2005, only to see that verdict quashed, too.

The trial is expected to last two weeks.

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