Feds say ex-cop caught on tape pondering: Who should he kill?
BY KIM JANSSEN Federal Courts Reporter December 27, 2013 10:38PM
Steve Mandell, a former Chicago cop, leaves the Dirksen Federal Building in 2004. | Sun-Times files
Updated: January 29, 2014 6:09AM
Former Chicago cop Steven Mandell was secretly taped making a business decision, the feds say.
Which of two Outfit-connected strip club owners should he kill?
On one hand there was the “strong guy,” with alleged direct mob ties.
On the other, the feds say, was the “strong guy’s” associate, a pal with no criminal background.
Each had his merits as a murderee.
If he killed the strong guy, the pal would be so scared he would “s--- all over himself,” making it easier for Mandell to take over the strip club without police getting involved, Mandell allegedly reasoned in September, 2012.
But “as you balance,” Mandell was allegedly recorded saying, if the pal survived, his clean criminal history meant he would be “on solid ground” if he went to the cops.
It would be smarter to murder the pal “and his old lady at their house” while their children were at school, he allegedly decided.
The strong man would “get the message more so than the reverse,” he was recorded telling a confidant.
The calculating coldness with which the notorious Mandell, 62, allegedly selected his potential murder victims and expressed a willingness to go “balls to the wall” in a fight with the Chicago Outfit were detailed for the first time in court papers filed over the Christmas holidays.
Even by the standards of the former Death Row resident’s wild life story, the latest filing contains chilling revelations that seem ripped from the pages of an over the top Hollywood script.
Mandell — who has done several stretches behind bars since he quit the Chicago Police Department in 1983 and was sentenced to death in 1993 for murder, only to have that conviction eventually overturned on appeal — is due to stand trial in February for a pair of more recent grisly murder plots, including the plot to kill the strip club owner.
He allegedly planned to seize the unnamed strip club by calling the “strong man’s” wife after murdering the strong man’s pal and warning her to tell her “----ing punk-ass husband to leave this situation alone or else.
“Cause, I’ll show you what Elmwood Park really looks like,” he allegedly added in an apparent reference to the west suburban Outfit crew. “I can get really get nasty.”
Mandell was then allegedly caught on camera making a throat-slitting gesture and adding that the strong man and a lawyer who was associated with him might defecate on themselves when they heard what had happened to the pal and his wife.
The recent filing reveals that the feds were so concerned about Mandell using his police counter-surveillance skills that they tracked him by helicopter in October 2012.
A day before he was arrested, agents were watching from the sky as Mandell entered a shopping mall parking lot, made “furtive movements” then lay on the ground and fixed a tracking device to his girlfriend’s car, prosecutors say.
The device, later recovered from the car, had previously been used by Mandell to track the strip club owner’s wife, the feds allege.
The feds say they plan to use Mandell’s willingness to lie to his 82-year-old wife about his girlfriend as evidence he can’t be trusted.
Mandell, who’s also accused of plotting to extort then kill a businessman in a purpose-built torture chamber in a second but unrelated plot, and of trying to arrange the murder of the feds’ key informant from behind bars since his arrest last year, denies all charges.
A number of his close associates, including his father, have either been killed or gone missing over the years.
His codefendant in the latest plots, former Willow Springs cop Gary Engel, 61, hanged himself in prison last year.