Ex-cop Steve Mandell guilty of kidnap, murder plot

February 21, 2014 (CHICAGO)

Jurors deliberated for just four hours after getting the case at 1:25 p.m. Friday. Mandell, 63, faced eight counts: conspiracy to kidnap, extortion conspiracy, murder-for-hire, obstruction of justice and weapons charges. He was found guilty on six of the most serious charges.

However, after the verdict was read there was some confusion. Apparently one of the jurors was confused by the language used to poll them. Eventually it was cleared up and the verdict was re-read.

The government's case is largely held up by FBI surveillance tapes. Jurors heard audio recordings and video recordings that included Mandell. The conversations contained detailed descriptions of plans to profit from the would-be victims' assets and the means of torture, genital mutilation and disposing of a body by draining blood.

Mandell's attorneys argue their client was just talking and never intended to carry out kidnapping, extortion or murder. But prosecutors presented photos of some of the weapons Mandell planned to use.

"The evidence speaks for itself, the evidence was presented in a very professional way," said U.S. Attorney Zach Fardon.

Among the evidence prosecutors were not allowed to present was that Mandell has a long history with the law, and plenty of experience with prisons.

He was convicted in 1992 for kidnapping and sentenced to two life terms, but later cleared of the charges on appeal. And in 1993, he was convicted of murder and spent eight years on death row, only to have his murder conviction overturned.

Defense attorneys accused investigators of using an inordinate amount of resources, including high-tech surveillance equipment and more than 20 agents on the case. But the FBI is making no apologies.

"With the threat to the community that this individual presented, the resources were well used and needed," said Robert Holley, FBI special agent in charge.

Mandell faces the possibility of life in prison on several of the counts. Sentencing is set for June.

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