Steven Mandell, convicted in February of conspiring to kidnap and kill Riverside businessman Steven Campbell, ardently wants to be released from the Metropolitan Correctional Center’s solitary housing unit.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, just as ardently, wants him to stay right there.
On May 8, Assistant U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon filed the government’s answer to a motion to allow Mandell’s government-provided attorneys to withdraw from the case and Mandell’s separate motion to place him in the federal prison’s general population.
In his answer, Fardon rips Mandell’s requests and reveals that the U.S. Attorney General himself believes Mandell can’t be trusted outside of solitary confinement. Fardon states that Holder, who has authority to dictate certain policies at federal prisons, imposed “special administrative measures” against Mandell.
Fardon said that Mandell was placed in the general prison population shortly after his arrest in October 2012 and promptly called his wife to have her destroy evidence in a vehicle that he parked near Campbell’s home prior to the date of the planned kidnapping, which was foiled by the FBI when Mandell and his accomplice, Gary Engel, were apprehended outside a real estate office on Chicago’s Northwest Side. Engel killed himself in jail shortly after his arrest.
The FBI had been trailing Mandell for months, using a confidential informant named George Michael to record hours of phone conversations and video of Mandell and Engel planning their lurid kidnapping, extortion and murder of Campbell inside an improvised torture chamber Mandell dubbed “Club Med.”
Fardon also states in his answer that, while in the general population of the prison after his arrest, Mandell sought to hire someone to kill Michael. The U.S. Attorney General sought to impose the special administrative measures after those events, Fardon states, because “there is a substantial risk that [Mandell’s] communications with third parties may result in death or serious bodily injury to others.”
According to Fardon’s answer, Mandell can’t challenge the U.S. Attorney General’s special administrative measures, which were imposed May 2, because “he has not exhausted his administrative remedies through the federal Administrative Remedy Program.
With respect to the motion allowing Mandell’s attorneys to withdraw, Fardon dismisses Mandell’s claims that his attorneys were “ineffective,” offering written statements by Mandell that he, in fact, was pleased with his attorneys prior to the trial.
“A defendant is not entitled to try on a new set of attorneys paid for by the public merely because he loses his case — yet that is precisely what he wants to do,” Fardon writes.
Fardon also argues that, in any case, Mandell’s motion was made too late and changing attorneys now would “require an inordinate delay in sentencing proceedings,” which were initially set for June 19.
According to Campbell, sentencing has already been delayed until June 30, although that information does not appear in online U.S. District court records. Mandell faces a sentence of up to life in prison.