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Suspicious Death of Highwood Restaurant Owner Resurfaces

Could there be a connection between the 2012 death of Highwood restaurateur Giacomo Ruggirello and a former Buffalo Grove resident accused in an extortion/murder plot?

Defense attorneys for Steven Mandell, an ex-Chicago cop from Buffalo Grove who is accused in a plot to extort and kill a Chicago real estate mogul, have subpoenaed the Highland Park Police Department for its records into the investigation of the Sept. 2012 death of Giacomo Ruggirello, who owned the Highwood restaurant Trattoria Giacomo, reported the Chicago Tribune.

On Sept. 25, 2012, fire and police responded to a fire at Giacomo's home in the 1700 block of Midland Avenue, in Highland Park, shortly before 1 a.m. His badly burned body was found in the home, Patch reported.

Giacomo's Italian restaurant was burglarized earlier that day and an accelerant may have been used in the house fire, reported the Tribune.

The reason for the subpoena is unclear, according to the Tribune, and Highland Park Police don't believe there is a connection between the Mandell and Ruggirello cases.

Steven Mandell, formerly Steven Manning, of Buffalo Grove, was convicted in 1993 of murdering trucking company owner Jimmy Pellegrino, reported the Huffington Post, but the conviction was overturned in 1998 and he was released.

Under his new surname, Mandell was arrested in Oct. 2012 along with fellow former cop Gary Engel in a plot to extort and murder a Chicago realtor after luring him to an office space they dubbed "Club Med," reported Patch.

Related Patch stories:

Coroner Identifies Man Who Died in House Fire

Buffalo Grove Resident Charged with Extortion in Alleged Murder Plot

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