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Former Chicago cop charged in second murder plot

Steve Mandell leaves Dirksen Federal Building 2005 with his attorney JLoevy.  |  Sun-Times Medifile photo

Steve Mandell leaves the Dirksen Federal Building in 2005 with his attorney Jon Loevy. | Sun-Times Media file photo

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Updated: April 24, 2013 6:09AM

A former Chicago cop already accused of plotting a macabre kidnap, murder and extortion scheme is now charged with plotting to kill a second man for cash — and of roping his wife into a cover-up from behind the bars of a federal lockup.

Former Death Row resident Steve Mandell, 61, was charged late last year with one of the grisliest plots in recent Chicago history.

The feds arrested him on Oct. 25, just moments before they say he planned to abduct, torture, extort, murder and dismember an unidentified businessman in a purpose-built killing chamber.

His alleged accomplice, Gary Engel, committed suicide in prison less than two weeks later.

Now, a new indictment alleges Mandell called his wife four days after he was arrested from the downtown Metropolitan Correctional Center and asked her to help him move a car he’d planned to use in the abduction. The 2001 Nissan Maxima was parked near the would-be victim’s home, the indictment says. Mandell allegedly wanted to have his wife move the car, then dispose of evidence.

He allegedly warned her during a call from jail on Oct. 30 to have somebody else actually move the car, because “maybe they’ll say you’re aiding and abetting a crime or something,” according to the indictment. When his wife asked him a day later whether she should clean it out, he responded, “Yeah . . . throw away a lot of stuff,” the indictment says.

Mandell is also accused of plotting a second murder on Oct. 5 — this time in return for a share of the revenues of an “adult entertainment club.” Neither the victim nor the strip club are identified by name in the indictment.

Mandell, of Buffalo Grove, was a Chicago cop for a decade until 1983. He has a colorful history as a fraudster and jewel thief and has been in and out of court for much of his adult life. Convicted of a 1984 kidnap plot that bore striking similarities to his most recent arrest, and sentenced to death for a 1990 murder, he was later freed on appeal on both cases and awarded $6.5 million by a civil jury for wrongful conviction, only to see that verdict also overturned.

Unanswered questions remain around the murder of his father, and the disappearances of several of his associates.

Lurid details of his most recent alleged plan to torture and kill a businessman were detailed in court papers late last year.

Mandell — once known as Steve Manning — rented out office space with Engel and built a killing chamber he called “Club Med,” according to the feds. Complete with a giant sink to drain the victim’s blood, “Club Med” also had a reinforced man-sized counter with saws and a butcher’s knife for hacking the victim up, the feds allege.

Mandell, who denies all charges, allegedly nicknamed his would-be victim “Soupie Sales.” He planned to pose as a cop to “arrest” the victim. He was secretly recorded allegedly boasting that he would torture the man into handing over property he owned, the feds said.

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