By Bob Uphues
A week after a jury found Steven Mandell guilty of conspiring to kidnap, torture, extort and kill a Riverside businessman, his attorney filed a motion in U.S. District Court to acquit Mandell of the charges.
On Feb. 27, attorney Keith Spielfogel asked the court of acquit Mandell of all of the charges against him, arguing that the government failed to prove its case against Mandell.
"The government has failed to prove that [Mandell] intended to commit a kidnapping, to commit extortion, or to commit murder, and further, the government has not proven that he knowingly possessed a firearm or that he obstructed justice," Spielfogel wrote in his motion.
A jury on Feb. 21 found Mandell guilty of six of the eight charges against him. All of the charges related to his plot against Steven Campbell, whom Mandell had been trailing since at least October 2011. In the summer of 2012, Mandell met real estate mogul George Michael and attempted to use Michael to lure Campbell to Michael's real estate office on Chicago's Northwest Side.
Mandell and an accomplice named Gary Engel, posing as police officers, planned to snatch Campbell at the real estate office and then drive him to a nearby office they had converted into a torture chamber. There they planned to torture Campbell into turning over money and deeds to his many Brookfield properties before killing him.
Michael, however, turned out to be an FBI informant who was wearing a wire. The FBI amassed hours of audio and video evidence against Mandell.
Engel killed himself in jail shortly after being arrested with Mandell outside Michael's real estate office on Oct. 25, 2012.
Judge Amy St. Eve responded to Spielfogel's motion to acquit Mandell on Feb. 28, denying it "in light of the jury's verdict."
Mandell is scheduled to be sentenced on June 19. He faces up to life in prison.