Ex-cops charged with extortion, plans to murder and dismember - FOX 32 News Chicago

Ex-cops charged with extortion, plans to abduct, murder and dismember

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Two former police officers, one from Chicago and the other from the western suburb, are in jail Friday night and charged with a plot to abduct, extort, murder and dismember a person they thought had access to large amounts of cash from commercial real estate holdings.

The arrests followed an undercover FBI investigation involving the intended victim, who was not identified, according to federal prosecutors.

Steven Mandell, aka "Steven Manning," 61, of Buffalo Grove; and Gary Engel, 61, of Homer Glen, were charged with attempted extortion and conspiracy to commit extortion in a criminal complaint filed Friday in U.S. District Court.

They were arrested Thursday evening in the vicinity of the planned abduction on the Northwest Side, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney's office. According to the complaint affidavit, they carried what appeared to be "prop" firearms and fake law enforcement credentials. Engel also had handcuffs and Mandell had a fake arrest document that named the victim as a defendant.

After the arrests, FBI agents seized a loaded .22 caliber semi-automatic pistol and additional ammunition, as well as saws, a butcher knife and multiple zip-ties suitable for use as restraints, the release said.

In 1993, Manning was convicted of the 1990 murder of trucking firm owner Jimmy Pellegrino and sentenced to death. He also was convicted in a separate kidnapping case in Missouri. His convictions were later overturned, and state prosecutors declined to retry him. Manning sued agents Robert Buchan and Gary Miller, alleging they framed him. He claimed the FBI targeted him after he balked at working as an undercover informant.

Manning has been controversial for years. He was fired from his job as a Chicago cop, and his father was murdered — the killer never was caught. Associates of Manning's also have disappeared.

Mandell, a former Chicago cop for about 10 years until 1983, and Engel, a former Willow Springs officer, allegedly intended to abduct a person they called "Soupie Sales" while posing as law enforcement officers. They allegedly planned to take the victim to a nearby office location, to extort cash and real estate holdings and eventually murder the victim, and drive the victim's car home.

During the investigation, which included audio and video recordings, Mandell speculated the victim generated as much as $100,000 a month in cash from rental properties, and at one point mentioned demanding at least $500,000, the complaint alleges.

According to the affidavit, they allegedly plotted to meet with someone called "Individual A." At an office location, referred to as "Club Med," Mandell arranged to use the counter and sink to drain the victim's blood before dismembering the body.

According to the document, Mandell discussed the plans with Individual A saying, "My guy knows what he's doing, he knows how to waterboard, do interrogation, psy-ops."

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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