In court, ex-cop and his alleged would-be torture victim meet for first time
BY KIM JANSSEN Federal Courts Reporter February 19, 2014 1:37PM
Steve Mandell leaves the Dirksen Federal Building in 2005 with his attorney Jon Loevy. | Sun-Times files
Updated: March 21, 2014 3:35PM
Steve Mandell hoped Steven Campbell would die at the pointy end of a torturer’s knife, the feds say.
Instead, the two men faced each other for the first time Wednesday in a sober federal courtroom.
In place of the wheelchair Mandell allegedly intended to strap Campbell into in a purpose-built Northwest Side torture chamber back in late 2012, the wealthy 64-year-old Riverside businessman sat in a comfy seat on the stand of U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve’s courtroom.
And instead of screaming in pain as his genitals were mutilated, Campbell calmly testified against Mandell — a 62-year-old former Chicago cop who the feds say planned to kill Campbell after he’d kidnapped and tortured him into handing over 25 buildings.
Campbell, who Mandell nicknamed “Soupy,” told jurors hearing Mandell’s double murder plot trial that he’d never met Mandell.
But in 2011, he was “disturbed” to receive a handwritten letter at his home, attached to Mandell’s business card, he said.
The letter inquired about a property Campbell owned. But when Campbell called Mandell’s number and asked how he’d got Campbell’s home address, “the number of errors and misstatements” in Mandell’s answer “raised my personal radar,” Campbell testified.
Campbell gave the letter to Riverside Police, he said. But it wasn’t until more than a year later, when Mandell was arrested on Oct. 25, 2012, that Campbell learned that he’d been the target of Mandell’s alleged murder plot.
He confirmed on the stand that he owns the buildings depicted in photos Mandell was seen taking by an FBI surveillance team; photos which were later seized from Mandell’s home.
Also Wednesday, jurors saw video footage from an FBI airplane, which tracked Mandell the day before he allegedly planned to abduct Campbell.
The video shows Mandell placing a GPS tracking bug on his girlfriend’s car in an Arlington Heights parking lot. Mandell admits he previously used the same bug to track the wife of Polekatz strip club owner Anthony Quaranta, who he is also accused of plotting to kill in a separate but related plot.
The use of expensive aerial surveillance, and the testimony of at least 20 FBI agents so far, shows the lengths the feds were prepared to go to nab Mandell.
Sentenced to death for a 1990 murder, he was cleared of that crime on appeal, and won a $6.5 million civil jury verdict for wrongful prosecution against the FBI in 2005, only for that verdict also to be overturned.
He will take the stand in his own defense on Thursday, his lawyer said.