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Press Release

Steven Mandell Sentenced To Life In Prison For Barbaric 2012 Plot To Kidnap, Extort And Kill Victim In North Side Torture Chamber

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Illinois

CHICAGO — A northwest suburban man was sentenced today to life in prison for plotting in 2012 to kidnap, torture, extort and murder an innocent victim and then take control of the victim’s real estate holdings.  STEVEN MANDELL, 64, formerly known as “Steven Manning,” of Buffalo Grove, was tried in February of this year and convicted of conspiracy to commit kidnapping, extortion conspiracy, attempted extortion, possessing a firearm during a violent crime, being a felon-in-possession of a firearm, and obstruction of justice.

“This was an extremely serious and disturbing offense,” U.S. District Judge Amy J. St. Eve said in imposing the life term following a hearing in Federal Court.  “Your actions in this case, Mr. Mandell, were evil . . . and showed a complete disregard for human life.”

The judge also imposed a mandatory consecutive five-year sentence for use of a firearm and a $5,000 fine.  Mandell has been in custody since he was arrested in October 2012 and there is no parole in the federal prison system.

“Mr. Mandell was the mastermind of a truly barbaric crime,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Amerjeet Bhachu said in court today.  Mandell “was the principal author of an exceptionally sadistic and depraved plan to kidnap, torture, extort and murder,” Mr. Bhachu and Assistant U.S. Attorney Diane MacArthur argued in a sentencing memo.

Mandell, a Chicago police officer for approximately 10 years until 1983, served more than a decade on Illinois’ death-row for a murder conviction that was later overturned on legal grounds involving the admissibility of evidence at his trial, not because of innocence.   

A co-defendant in the 2012 murder plot, Gary Engel, who was 61 at the time, of Homer Glen and a former police officer in Willow Springs, committed suicide shortly after he was arrested with Mandell.

The evidence at trial showed that Mandell rented a location in the 5300 block of West Devon Avenue, known to him as “Club Med,” not knowing at the time that the FBI had installed a hidden camera and recording equipment after a cooperating witness reported Mandell’s plan.  Mandell and Engel outfitted the rental location to restrain, torture and kill the victim.  They developed a plan to lure him from his residence; stocked “Club Med” with all the tools they needed to carry out the crimes; and obtained all the trappings they needed to pose as police officers in connection with the victim’s abduction.

The sentence was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert J. Holley, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. 

Updated July 23, 2015