CHICAGO (CBS) — A twisted murder plot by a former Chicago police officer ended Thursday with Steve Mandell sentenced to life in prison, plus five years.
Steve Mandell, 63, was convicted in February of plotting to extort money from businessman Steve Campbell, by kidnapping and torturing him in an office he and an accomplice had equipped with saws and a sink in which to drain Campbell’s blood. Mandell allegedly wanted Campbell to transfer ownership of 25 buildings to him, and planned to kill and dismember him after carrying out his torture and extortion plan.
Mandell’s attorney had asked U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve to sentence him to less than 12 years in prison, while prosecutors sought a life sentence.
In sentencing Mandell to life, St. Eve said, “the public needs protecting from you.”
The judge said, from viewing undercover video recordings of Mandell discussing his plot, it appeared Mandell got a thrill from planning to torture and kill Campbell.
“The thrill you showed in putting another person in pain and torturing was chilling,” she said. “The glee on your face was very apparent.”
The additional five years on top of Mandell’s life sentence was from a conviction on a federal gun charge.
Prosecutors said Mandell and former Willow Springs police officer Gary Engel were on the verge of carrying out their gruesome plot when they were arrested two years ago. Engel hanged himself in his cell shortly after the arrest.
Jurors at Mandell’s trial were shown hours of video footage of Mandell discussing the plot, but defense attorneys argued there was no evidence Mandell planned to follow through, and that it was nothing more than talk.
On one video, Mandell was heard saying he planned to cover Campbell’s face with a ski mask after kidnapping him.
“It’s going to be darkness. …It’s going to be psychological warfare,” he said.
Among other grisly details, jurors heard Mandell discussing plans to mutilate Campbell’s genitals.
Mandell was acquitted of another murder-for-hire plot involving businessman Anthony Quaranta and his wife, in an alleged attempt to take control of Quaranta’s strip club in Bridgeview.