Steven Mandell Chicago's trophy fish

When you beat "the man", you are supposed to be humble. Especially when "the man" happens to be the F.B.I.

Steven Mandell beat the man. The former police officer (Original name Steven Manning) and convicted felon sued the F.B.I. for framing and putting him on death row after a successful appeal of his conviction for murder. He won a $6.5 million judgement, which was later set aside.


Steve Mandell (Chicago Tribune)

Mandell should have been humble. He should have disappeared into the woodwork. Instead, he made himself a target. The feds took aim and hit a bulls eye.

During the 1970s and 80s Mandell ran an insurance fraud scheme while he was a Chicago cop. He was caught, resigned, and plead guilty to a felony.

He tried a career as an F.B.I. informant. He bungled that. The guy he volunteered to inform on was mysteriously murdered. The F.B.I. dropped him like a hot potato.

In 1989 he gets embroiled in a kidnapping and is sentenced to life in prison. While waiting to be transferred to a prison in Missouri, he is accused of a Chicago murder. He is convicted of that murder and sentenced to death.

After a successful appeal of his convictions, he is freed and sues.

One would think such a bumbler would find some other line of work. A line of work keeping him out of sight and mind of law enforcement. A line of work commensurate with his limited intelligence.

Instead, Mandell decides to become a professional extortionist and murderer. Once again, his febrile plans run amok thanks to the efforts of the F.B.I.

There are several definitions of the initials, "F.B.I." by criminals, such as Forever Bothering Italians. In this case "F.B.I." stands for Finding Big Idiots.

Steve Mandell is a big idiot. The biggest idiot.

Mandell went from being a small time criminal cretin to a major extortionist wannabe. He and a partner decided to take over a popular and profitable suburban strip club through old school Outfit style extortion and intimidation. The plan had the flair and touch of Hollywood slay films.


Tony "Big Tuna" Accardo with tuna he caught. The tuna opened its mouth. (Chicago Tribune)

Do you ever watch sports fishing? You see people fighting huge marlins, tuna, and swordfish from the appropriately named fighting chair.

The boat captain is lauded for his knowledge and skill. He knows all the secrets of catching the big trophy fish. The hot spots, the right weather and seas, the best bait, even the best time of day to catch the trophy of a lifetime.

You see those fish mounted on walls.

There is only one secret to catching big trophy fish. It is as old as the ages.

The only way to catch a big fish? The fish opens its mouth.

Steve Mandell did not just open his mouth, he kept it opened. He talked and talked, and when he stopped talking, he talked some more. Right into the little microphones and recorders of the F.B.I.

His feverish plan reads like a plot from a butcher slay novel written by a wise guy. You can read all the sordid details in this Tribune article.

The feds yanked on the line and caught a big fish. Big enough to to put on their wall. It does not appear the fish put up a fight. The fish just opened its mouth.

Mandell and his partner, Gary Engel, another wannabe criminal and former suburban cop, were two peas in a pod. Two dullards who thought they were criminal masterminds. They thought they knew everything.

There is a saying in the military elite Special Operations world, "When you think you know everything, you're wrong".

Never were two know-it-alls more wrong.

Engel committed suicide after his arrest. He hung himself in jail. It was probably the smartest thing he ever did.

Mandell is now facing trial. The trial, with all its sordid and horrid details, is sure to be made for T.V.

Mandell was very fortunate. He is a very lucky guy. His luck was in getting caught by the F.B.I. The people he was foolishly going to extort and intimidate were very connected. They were connected to the guys who put on musicals. Those talented playwrights who gave Chicago that long running musical, "Trunk Music".

Had the F.B.I. not stopped this criminal cretin, Steven Mandell might have been be the next star in "Trunk Music".

Instead, Steven Mandell is Chicago's trophy fish.





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