Steven Mandell, convicted in February of conspiring to kidnap, torture, extort and kill a Riverside businessman, has succeeded in postponing his sentencing date.
U.S. District Court Judge Amy St. Eve was slated to sentence the former death-row inmate on June 30. But after being found guilty, Mandell in April complained that his government-provided attorneys were ineffective. The attorneys sought permission to withdraw from the case, and St. Eve allowed the request, despite a protest from prosecutors that the 63-year-old Mandell was simply playing games.
“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,” argued U.S. Assistant Attorney Zachary Fardon in his reply to Mandell’s attorneys’ request to withdraw.
On May 12, St. Eve granted the request for the attorneys to withdraw. On May 27, she appointed Francis C. Lipuma as counsel for Mandell and reset his sentencing date to Sept. 4.
However, Mandell will wait out his sentencing inside the Special Housing Unit at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago, and not in the prison’s general population. On the same date St. Eve allowed Mandell’s previous counsel to withdraw from the case, she rejected his plea to be released into the general prison population from solitary confinement.
St. Eve pointed to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to impose “special administrative measures” on Mandell as her reason for denying the request. There is a formal process for lifting special administrative measures, and Mandell must exhaust all remedies through that process, St. Eve ruled.
Prosecutors have argued that Mandell cannot be trusted in the general prison population. After being arrested on the day the lurid kidnapping/murder plot against Riverside resident Steven Campbell was supposed to take place, Mandell instructed his wife to have her destroy evidence in a car parked near Campbell’s home and reportedly tried to hire someone kill the government’s star witness against him.
Mandell, a former Chicago police officer who used to go by the name Steven Manning, was sentenced to death in 1993 for the murder of a former business associate. At the time, he was serving a life sentence in Missouri for a 1984 kidnapping/extortion plot.
However, Mandell got appeals courts to overturn both convictions against him. He even sued the FBI and won a multimillion-dollar settlement from the government. A court later overruled the settlement, and Mandell never collected.
Mandell continues to argue that the FBI concocted the Campbell case against him because they are seeking revenge against him. He testified that he never meant to follow through with the plot to kidnap, torture and kill Campbell.