2 Former Cops Charged in Extortion Plot

Federal officials claim the men planned to abduct and murder the person they allegedly planned to extort

Two former cops were charged Friday in connection with an alleged extortion plot that prosecutors say included abducting, murdering and dismembering a victim they allegedly believed had access to big money from commercial real estate holdings.

Steven Mandell, 61, of Buffalo Grove and Gary Engel, 61, of Homer Glenn were charged with attempted extortion and conspiracy to commit extortion in a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court.

Prosecutors said Mandel, a former Chicago police officer of 10 years formerly known as “Steven Manning," and Engel, a former Willow Springs officer, were arrested by FBI agents at the alleged planned abduction site on the Northwest Side following an undercover investigation.

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.

The two allegedly planned to abduct the victim, referred to as “Soupie” or “Soupie Sales,” while posing as officers. A fake arrest document also was found, according to the complaint.

Prosecutors claim Mandel and Engel planned to extort the victim to turn over money and about 25 commercial real estate holdings before murdering him. Mandell allegedly speculated they could get up to $100,000 a month from rental properties and at one point the two allegedly discussed demanding $500,000 to release the victim before the murder, prosecutors said.

According to the complaint, Mandell discussed the abduction with an undercover agent on Oct. 10.

“My guy knows what he’s doing, he knows how to waterboard, do interrogation, psy-ops,” according to the affidavit.

If convicted, Mandel and Engel could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count.

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