House of Horrors Disguised as House of Hope

Former cop on trial for alleged scam to abduct, torture and extort businessman.

By Charlie Wojciechowski
|  Friday, Feb 14, 2014  |  Updated 7:21 AM EDT
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Prosecutors show the FBI video of an alleged murder and torture plot. Charlie Wojciechowski Reports

Prosecutors show the FBI video of an alleged murder and torture plot. Charlie Wojciechowski Reports

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Tapes Show Former Cop Planning Extortion Plot

Prosecutors played audiotapes in court Wednesday that appear to show a former Chicago officer planning to abduct, torture and kill a businessman.
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Prosecutors showed FBI video surveillance of a torture chamber a former Chicago police officer is accused of masterminding to use in a plan to abduct and extort money from a businessman.

Steven Mandell, 62, is accused of a number of extortion plots involving businessman Steve Campbell.

The door to the alleged torture chamber on West Devon Street Mandell jokingly referred to as "Club Med," was marked with a misleading sign on the door -- Christian Consulting.

But inside, federal authorities say Mandell instructed that a special room be built, complete with heavy tables where the torture and dismemberment would be carried out, and an industrial steel sink to clean up afterward.

As it was being constructed, Mandell discussed the case with the state's star witness, real estate developer George Michael, who was wearing a wire.

MICHAEL: How much you want me to put into this place at the beginning?
MANDELL: Uh, I don't, but I think, uh, I think Stanley discussed already, he just wanted maybe the partition and the bare, the bare minimum, the sink is I recall and uh, garage opener. You - do you recall that conversation?
MICHAEL: Yes, I do. Yes.
MANDELL: And tap into all the people's resources temporarily.

Prosecutors say the plan was to kidnap Campbell and take him to the Devon address.

Inside the building were powers of attorney and quit claim deed forms they intended to force Campbell to sign through torture.

In one conversation played for jurors, Mandell can be heard talking about what he wanted to get from Campbell.

MICHAEL: Yeah, not a problem, not a problem.
MANDELL: Not a problem, cause I'll tell you what I'd like to keep as well, as far as cherry picking for the guy's portfolio.

According to prosecutors, Campbell's portfolio included 25 high-revenue buildings that were unencumbered by mortgages.

Mandell served on the Chicago Police Department from 1973 to 1983.

The trial continues Friday.

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