Missed this until the NYT picked it up today: Steven Mandell was convicted on Friday of one set of charges relating to a kidnapping plot.
Specifically, Mandell was convicted of plotting to
…kidnap a Riverside, Ill., businessman, and then torture and extort money from him. He planned to kill and dismember him in an office that Mr. Mandell and an accomplice had equipped with saws and a sink in which to drain their victim’s blood, the authorities said.
Apparently, Mandell and his accomplice wanted the businessman to turn over ownership of 25 buildings to them.
What’s so odd about this? Well…
1. Mandell was actually acquitted on a second set of charges; the claim was that he intended to kill another businessman, along with that guy’s wife, so he could get control of their strip club. The strip club was reportedly “mob connected”.
2. Keeping with our theme for the day, Mandell’s supposed accomplice killed himself in jail before the trial.
3. Mandell was a former officer with the Chicago Police Department. No, really, I am not making this up. He served for 10 years and left the force in 1983.
4. So why am I not making “only ones” jokes or suggesting the CPD needs adult supervision? (It does, but not because of Mandell.) Because Mandell’s history since 1983 has been “colorful”.
Formerly known as Steven Manning, he was convicted in 1992 for his role in the 1984 kidnapping of two reputed Kansas City drug traffickers and was sentenced to two life terms plus 100 years. He was cleared of those charges on appeal, and in 2005, he was awarded more than $6.5 million in damages by a federal jury that determined that two F.B.I. agents had framed him. A federal judge threw out the award in 2006.
Framed by the F.B.I. But wait, the story gets even better!
In 1993, Mandell was convicted of murdering Jimmy Pellegrino in 1990. Pellegrino owned a trucking company, and was allegedly murdered by Mandell as part of a drug deal, according to an informant with Mafia ties.
Mandell spent eight years on death row. And I bet you know what happened next: that’s right, the conviction was overturned on appeal, and Mandell walked in that case as well. (That KansasCity.com link has some more background on why both of these convictions were thrown out. And Mandell’s supposed accomplice in the current case? The one who killed himself in jail? He was also convicted in the KC kidnapping, and also had his conviction overturned on appeal, based in large part on the evidence Mandell collected in his civil case.)
So I’m avoiding cop snark in general here, and CPD snark in particular, because I don’t know what to make of this. It seems like there’s two possibilities: Mandell is a really bad guy who got lucky twice in having his convictions thrown out. Or somebody in law enforcement has a real problem with Mandell, has gone after him three times, lost twice (“Jurors also found that the investigators encouraged perjury, fabricated evidence, and concealed those facts from Clay County prosecutors.“), and now they have at least a temporary victory. It’ll be interesting to see if this holds up.
(I suppose there is a third possibility: why not both? But if Mandell really is such a bad guy, why did law enforcement need to fabricate evidence against him?)
It will also be interesting to read the true-crime book that I’m sure someone is writing about this case.