Even behind bars, former Chicago cop and would-be torturer Steve Mandell is a threat to the public, according to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
So Mandell — convicted in February of a grisly torture and murder plot — has been placed under a rarely used set of restrictions at the downtown Metropolitan Correctional Center on Holder’s direct orders.
The “special administrative measures” Holder has taken against Mandell, 63, come after Mandell sent desperate letters to police and the judge who heard his case, accusing the main government witness against him of crimes, and after Mandell allegedly tried to solicit the witness’ murder.
The restrictions effectively consign him to solitary confinement — a decision normally taken by the prison warden. And they reflect Holder’s belief “that there is a substantial risk that an inmate’s communications with third parties may result in death or serious bodily injury to others,” prosecutors wrote in a court filing Friday.
Mandell has chafed under tight restrictions at the MCC since he was charged in 2012 with plotting to abduct, torture and kill Riverside businessman Steve “Soupy” Campbell.
Just days after he was arrested, he made phone calls from the MCC in an attempt to have his wife destroy evidence.
That move got him temporarily placed in solitary confinement. But within hours of his release back into the prison’s general population last year, he allegedly sought to have the Latin Kings street gang murder North Shore realtor George Michael, the main witness against him.
Since his conviction, Mandell has gotten around court orders that attempt to ban him from making further threats by disguising letters to U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve and suburban police departments as “legal mail,” which jail staff are forbidden from monitoring, prosecutors allege.
Mandell is now trying to fire his attorneys, who in February helped him escape conviction on a second murder plot, despite what appeared to be strong evidence of his guilt.
A onetime Death Row inmate, Mandell, of Buffalo Grove, is suspected of at least a half-dozen unsolved murders going back nearly three decades. Sentenced to death for a 1990 murder, he was sensationally freed after that conviction was overturned, and in 2005 Mandell won a $6.5 million lawsuit for wrongful prosecution against the FBI, only to see that verdict also overturned on appeal.
He faces a likely life sentence for the Campbell plot when he is sentenced in June.