MUMBAI: The Anti Extortion Cell (AEC) of Thane police have caught red-handed a private detective and his wife while accepting Rs 1 crore extortion money from an IAS officer, who was sent on leave earlier this year pending an inquiry for alleged corruption, police said today.
According to the police, the couple, arrested yesterday from Dombivali in neighbouring Thane district, had threatened to defame the IAS officer, Radheshyam Mopalwar, using recordings of his purported phone conversations.
Satish Mangle, who works as a private detective, and his wife Shraddha had allegedly demanded Rs 7 crore from him for not releasing those tapes and also to retract their allegations of corruption against him, made earlier.
In August this year, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis removed Mopalwar as the vice-chairman and managing director of the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), after some audio recordings, where the officer is purportedly heard `fixing' a land deal, surfaced.
Thane police commissioner Param Bir Singh today said, "Private detective Satish Mangle and his wife Shraddha were arrested by the officials of AEC from Mangle's rented flat in Dombivali yesterday.
"Police recovered two laptops, five mobile phones, four pen drives, 15 CDs and some incriminating documents from the flat," Singh added.
The couple and their friend, Anil Vedmehta, contacted Mopalwar through one Kling Mishra and asked him to meet them at Kharegaon toll plaza on Nashik Highway last month, Singh told reporters.
"Initially they demanded Rs 10 crore, but later they settled for Rs 7 crore. Mangle threatened that Mopalwar and his daughter will have to face consequences if he did not pay the money," Singh said.
Earlier, Mangle had twice threatened Mopalwar, seeking money claiming that he had contacts in the Arun Gawli gang and some other organised crime syndicates, and was blackmailing him, he said.
Mopalwar video-recorded his half-an-hour long conversation with Mangle at a five-star hotel in Mumbai on October 31 using spy-cams, during which the accused threatened and demanded money, the police commissioner said.
Mopalwar then approached the AEC of Thane police and lodged a complaint.
AEC sleuths laid a trap to arrest Mangle red-handed.
"A policeman in plain clothes was sent to Mangle's house to hand over Rs 1 crore as an instalment of extortion money. The sleuths arrested Mangle and his wife when they were accepting the cash," the commissioner said.
"We are looking for their two accomplices," he added.
In the past, Mopalwar had sought Mangle's help, as a private detective, in his divorce-related issues.
While working on the case, Mangle allegedly made recordings of some private conversations, and later he demanded money from Mopalwar, blackmailing him.
Mangle also provided some of these incriminating audio clips to news channels, which were aired.
Mangle and his wife also met politicians and media persons and made some serious allegations of corruption against Mopalwar. Subsequently he demanded Rs 10 crore to withdraw all allegations and to give back the audio clips, commissioner Singh said.
Mangle, who has studied upto Std 10th, networked with senior government officials and recorded their private conversations whenever he got opportunity, a police official said.
He was in trouble in 2012 when a case under the Information Technology Act was registered against him at Bandra police station in Mumbai, the official said. Mangle is also facing a case of extortion and another case of rape at Mira Road police station, he added.
Anti Extortion Cell's senior police inspector Pradeep Sharma is investigating the case.