The attorney for Steven Mandell, the former Chicago cop convicted last year for planning to kidnap, torture and kill a Riverside businessman in order to get possession of his cash and real estate holdings, said in a recent federal court filing that life is about to get more difficult for his client.
According to his attorney, Francis C. Lipuma, Mandell is scheduled to be transferred to the supermax prison at Florence, Colorado, the so-called ADMAX prison, which holds some of the most notorious inmates in the nation, including Theodore Kaczinsky, better known as the Unabomber; Zacarias Moussaoui, who was convicted of helping plan the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks; and Eric Rudolph, the man convicted of the 1996 bombing of Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta.
At the ADMAX prison, according to a New York Times article published in March 2015, inmates are kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day.
On Aug. 26, Lipuma, who was appointed to represent Mandell after his February 2014 conviction, asked the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals for additional time to file his lead brief for his client’s appeal of his conviction on six counts of conspiracy to kidnap, conspiracy and attempted extortion, firearms offenses and obstruction of justice.
Lipuma, citing government-imposed “special administrative measures” — SAMs — on his client and Mandell’s impending transfer to Florence ADMAX, said he needed until Oct. 2 to file the brief, since the government has made it so difficult for him to correspond with Mandell. The court agreed to Lipuma’s request. The government has until Nov. 16 to file its reply.
Mandell was sentenced to life in prison plus five years, meaning he is not eligible for parole. Since early 2015, Mandell has been held at the high-security federal penitentiary at Florence, Colorado.
Recently, according to Lipuma, the government renewed SAMs for Mandell. SAMs, stated Lipuma in his Aug. 26 filing, are imposed on just .02 percent of federal prisoners.
“Because of the SAMs imposed here, unlike the vast majority of federal prisoners, Mandell is not permitted to call his attorney at all,” Lipuma wrote in the Aug. 26 filing. “He also is not permitted to email his attorney at all, unlike the vast majority of federal prisoners.”
Lipuma also complained in the filing that the government interferes in delivering Mandell’s mail, “substantially delaying” correspondence between him and Mandell.
Mandell and Lipuma met for six hours, according to the court filing, on Aug. 19 in the Florence high-security prison’s visiting room to review and discuss the draft brief for the appeal.
In February 2014, Mandell was convicted for his part in a lurid plot to kidnap Riverside businessman Steven Campbell and then torture him inside a makeshift torture chamber dubbed “Club Med” by Mandell and his alleged accomplice, Gary Engel.
The plot was thwarted in October 2012 by FBI agents, who arrested the two outside a Chicago Northwest Side real estate office where the kidnapping was supposed to take place. Engel took his own life while in custody shortly after his arrest.