Jurors See Video Of Ex-Cop Discussing Gruesome Torture-Murder Plot
CHICAGO (STMW) — Jurors watched videotape footage of former Chicago cop Steve Mandell laughing as he discussed mutilating the genitals of a businessman as part of a macabre alleged double murder plot Friday morning.
The shocking video was the most dramatic and damning testimony yet against Mandell, 62, who is accused of plotting to torture and kill two men for money.
Several jurors had ashen faces after they were shown the half-hour long video, which was filmed with a hidden FBI camera inside a Northwest Side torture chamber Mandell built in late 2012.
The film showed Mandell and his alleged accomplice, former Willow Springs cop Gary Engel, making their final plans to abduct Riverside businessman Steven Campbell, bring him to their torture chamber, extort him into signing over 25 pieces of real estate he owned, then kill and dismember him.
“Oh brother, is this guy in for a f—— evening,” Mandell chuckled just moments before he and Engel allegedly set out to abduct Campbell.
They were arrested, wearing phony police IDs, in a phony police car and carrying a gun and a phony arrest warrant, just yards from the spot where they planned to abduct Campbell, the feds say.
In perhaps the most disturbing section of the video that was played Friday, Mandell and Engel joke about how they’d cut up Campbell’s genitals.
“You going to put a little blade there?,” Mandell asked Engel at one point, referring to Campbell’s private parts.
“It’s like slicing a banana split,” Engel replied.
The video — one of several jurors have seen that was filmed with the hidden FBI camera — shows the wheelchair Engel and Mandell allegedly planned to tie Campbell to while they tortured him.
Prosecutors say the torture chamber — which Mandell nicknamed “Club Med” — was also equipped with a switchblade, a meat cleaver, for hacking up Campbell’s body, and a reinforced giant sink for draining his blood.
In one section of the tape played in court Friday, Mandell discusses how many places they should cut Campbell’s body. In another the pair discuss using plastic sheets to prevent blood stains getting into the walls of the torture chamber at 5308 West Devon.
Engel advises Mandell to get some wrap around shades, for safety.
“Is that stuff gonna be flinging all over the place?” Mandell asks him. But Engel says it will be okay because they will take out the “big bones” first.
Mandell is also accused of plotting to murder Polekatz strip club owner Anthony Quaranta and his wife in a second plot. Mandell aimed to seize control of the club, which has alleged Outfit ties, the feds say.
But Mandell denies all charges. He admits he discussed both murder plots in detail, but says he was simply trying to con the government’s star witness, North Shore real estate mogul George Michael.
Michael secretly taped Mandell discussing the plots and readying the torture chamber on dozens of occasions,
But Michael didn’t make the video shown Friday, and he isn’t in it.
Mandell’s attorney during his opening statement vowed that Mandell would testify in his own defense next week.
It promises to be a theatrical final chapter to Mandell’s wild life story, which includes a spell on Death Row for a 1990 murder.
Mandell, who was freed on appeal from the conviction, was even awarded a $6.5 million payout for wrongful prosecution by a civil jury, but never got his hands on the cash, after that verdict also was overturned.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2014. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)