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Ex-Chicago Police officer, Steve Mandell, stands trial for murder plot

mandellA former Chicago police officer, turned criminal, goes on trial today for plotting to murder a suburban businessman.

Steve Mandell has been linked to as many as eight previous murders. Prosecutors say he hatched a plot to kidnap a wealthy man, torture him to extort money and real estate, then kill him and cut up his body.

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By Jason Meisner Tribune reporter

Steven Mandell, a former death row inmate, was convicted this evening of plotting to kidnap, torture, kill and dismember a wealthy suburban businessman  The federal jury, however, acquitted Mandell of plotting to kill an associate of a reputedly mob-connected strip club to take over the lucrative business.

As the judge was polling the jury to verify the verdict, one juror confirmed it was her verdict but then said “but not the last one.”

U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve then had the jury removed from the courtroom and took a recess.

According to the verdict read aloud in court, the jury convicted Mandell of the first six counts of the indictment but acquitted him of the final two counts that dealt with an alleged plot to kill Anthony “Tony Q” Quaranta, an associate at Polekatz Chicago Gentleman’s Club in Bridgeview.

The federal jury this afternoon began deliberating the fate of an ex-Chicago cop accused in lurid plots to kidnap, torture, kill and dismember a suburban businessman and also murder an associate of a reputedly mob-connected strip club.

Steven Mandell, 63, is facing eight counts, including conspiracy to kidnap, extortion conspiracy, murder-for-hire, obstruction of justice and weapons charges. He faces natural life in prison if convicted of the more serious charges.

The jury was given the case at about 1 p.m. after two weeks of sensational testimony, including dozens of undercover FBI recordings in which Mandell and an alleged accomplice talk about the torture and murder plots. During closing arguments today, prosecutors painted Mandell as a cold, calculated would-be killer and said he lied to jurors when he testified Thursday that all his talk was just an act.

In his rebuttal, Assistant U.S. Attorney Amar Bhachu asked why — if it was all a big hoax — Mandell would stock the alleged torture chamber he called Club Med with food and weapons and take the time to take the battery out of his cell phone and wrap it in tin foil so it couldn’t be tracked. Bhachu mocked Mandell’s assertion that he was just flinging “BS” with the government’s key informant, Chicago real estate mogul George Michael.

“The BS is what came from the defendant yesterday (on the witness stand),” Bhachu said.

Seated at the defense table, Mandell listened to Bhachu with his cheek resting on his right palm. He occasionally closed his eyes.

His attorney, Keith Spielfogel, told jurors that the recorded conversations at Club Med were “ridiculous and absolutely never should have happened,” but none of the government’s evidence constituted proof beyond a reasonable doubt. He said Mandell was working as a paid investigator for Michael and wanted to impress him but never intended to kill anyone.

Mandell, who spent years on death row before being exonerated in a 1990 murder, is accused of planning to kidnap Riverside businessman Steven Campbell, extort him of his cash and real estate, then kill him and chop his body into pieces. He’s also charged in a separate plot to kill Anthony “Tony Q” Quaranta — and his wife if necessary — in order to take over Quaranta’s stake in Polekatz strip club in Bridgeview.

Prosecutors allege Mandell also called his 82-year-old wife from jail after his October 2012 arrest and asked her to destroy evidence that was in a car parked near Campbell’s home.

In her closing argument, Assistant U.S. Attorney Diane MacArthur said the footage jurors saw of Mandell laughing about torture and planning Campbell’s dismemberment is “so chilling, so grim…it’s almost stunningly hard to believe.”

“There are things in this case that sink into your mind and are hard to shake out,” MacArthur said.
jmeisner@tribune.com

Copyright © 2014 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC

Closing arguments take place Friday in the Steven Mandell murder-conspiracy trial.

The prosecution and defense each have 40 minutes to make their cases.

Prosecutors say Mandell viewed life as something to be squeezed and drained, and held up a .22 caliber luger.

The jury may even start deliberations after lunch.

On Thursday, the former Chicago police officer testified in his own defense.

He denied he would have carried-out the abduction, torture and grisly murder of a businessman from Riverside. He also rejected accusations he lied to the court, the f-b-i, and his wife.

But on Friday, the prosecution said Mandell paid too much attention to detail to not move ahead with the plot.

Secret, FBI video was played Friday at the murder conspiracy trial that involves a former Chicago police officer.

The recording outlines of ex-cop Steven Mandell and Gary Engel on October 25th, 2012, allegedly making final preparations.

Prosecutors claim they plotted to kidnap successful businessman Steve Campbell, extort money from him, then chop him up with a meat cleaver in a so-called torture and death chamber at a building at 5308 west Devon on the northwest side.

Prosecutors say Mandell and Engel planned to kidnap Campbell by posing as cops ‘arresting’ him on a drug warrant.

More undercover audio was released Thursday along with video at the plot-to-kill trial of former Chicago cop Steven Mandell.

Prosecutors showed video of Mandell and an undercover FBI informant in the so called Club Med torture chamber.

It’s the Devon storefront location where the feds allege Mandell was going to kill the owners of a suburban strip club and shop them up.

Hence the talk of a human sized sink.

Testimony is to continue in court Friday.

For a second straight day jurors in the Steven Mandell case heard and saw Mandell and realest mogul and FBI informant George Michael discuss calmly how they planned to take over strip clubs– using torture and murder.  Not that they said those words.  In a video played in court Mandell said:

  • “I wanted soupy sales.  I want to get my Minnesota fats guy.”
  • “Minnesota Fats and the Greek will go running.”
  • “Yeah cause Julie’s gonna tell I just to simulated crying you are next.”

Michael says Soupy Sales was suburban businessman John Campbell.  Minnesota Fats a strip club associated Anthony “Tony Q” Quaranta.  The Greek is another strip associated Demitri Stavropoulos- the U.S. Attorney says Mandell had plans to muscle his way into the strip club business using murder and torture.

Michael was pretending to go along with the plan– even helping Campbell find this storefront on west Devon:

  • “I, I went to club med.”
  • “Did you enjoy it?  Did you like it?”
  • “I got, I got to tell you. I got to make a joke out of this. This place would have made Stalin proud.”

The two then planned to turn it into a torture chamber– when police raided the place they found sleeping pills and a meat cleaver the U.S.  Attorney says Mandell was going to use to dismember his victims. They even talked about how to get rid of all the blood using an industrial sized sink– and how the experience would bring them closer together.

  • “You’re gonna like that. That’s gonna bond us real well.”
  • “Soup kitchen.”
  • “No were gonna be bonded then you’re gonna love this.”

Mandell is charged with kidnapping attempted extortion murder for hire and has been linked to eight murders.

Mandel is a former Chicago Police officer and former death row inmate who found a legal way out.

Prosecutors are questioning a key witness in the trial of a former Chicago police officer.

Steve Mandell is accused of plotting to kidnap, torture and murder a suburban businessman.

The two main characters in the case were the stars of audio and video recordings played for the court Wednesday.

Steve Mandell and George Michael were heard talking about how they would muscle out competitors from the strip club business.

However, Michael was also an informant for the FBI back in 2012.

Chicago real estate mogul and former banker with a checkered past, George Michael, took the recordings of Steve Mandell.

Much of the recordings have the two discussing renting a store front on West Devon Avenue, they called ‘club med.’

Michael told jurors Mandell planned to use it as a torture chamber with industrial size sinks to drain his victims’ blood.

The recordings also have the two discussing the best way to take over a number of strip clubs.

Michael said that Mandell talked about torturing and murdering the people that were running them.

Mandell’s attorneys have said all of this was just talk and his client had no plans to murder anyone.

Mandells’ plan was actually to scam money from Michael.

More testimony is expected Wednesday afternoon.

Opening statements begin Tuesday in a murder conspiracy trial that involves a former Chicago police officer.

Steven Mandell is charged with plotting to kidnap a businessman, extort money from him, and then kill him. Prosecutors say he targeted a successful real estate agent, Steven Campbell. They claim Mandell planned to use a meat clever to chop up Campbell. They say Mandell built a torture chamber that had a sink to drain Campbell’s blood.

An alleged co-conspirator who turned into a federal informant apparently secretly recorded Mandell several times, and may take the witness stand as early as Tuesday.

Mandell is also accused of planning to murder another man so he could take over his target’s financial interests in a strip club that’s connected to the mob.

Prosecutors claim Mandell can be linked to at least eight murders.

A former Chicago police officer, turned criminal, goes on trial today for plotting to murder a suburban businessman.

Steve Mandell has been linked to as many as eight previous murders.

Prosecutors say he hatched a plot to kidnap a wealthy man, torture him to extort money and real estate, then kill him and cut up his body.

He was arrested in 2012 before he could carry out the plot.

Mandell will stand trial for kidnapping conspiracy, attempted extortion, and murder-for-hire.

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