The Anti Extortion Cell (AEC) of Thane Police caught red-handed a private detective and his wife from their rented house in Dombivali while accepting Rs 1 crore “extortion money” from a suspended IAS officer, a top police official said today.
According to police, the couple, who was arrested yesterday, had threatened to defame the officer, Radheshyam Mopalwar, using his phone call recordings they possessed and demanded Rs 7 crore from him for not doing so, and also for retracting their allegations of corruption against him.
In August this year, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had removed Mopalwar as the vice-chairman and managing director of the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), following a row over audio clips, in which the official was purportedly heard fixing a deal for a plot.
Thane Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh said, “Private detective Satish Mangle and his wife Shraddha were arrested by the officials of AEC from his rented flat in Dombivali (in Thane district) yesterday.”
“Police have recovered two laptops, five mobile handsets, four pen drives, 15 CDs and some incriminating documents from his (Mangle’s) residence,” he said.
The couple and their friend, Anil Vedmehta, had contacted Mopalwar through one Kling Mishra and asked him to come at Kharegaon toll plaza on Nashik Highway on October 23, Singh said.
“Initially, they demanded Rs 10 crore extortion, but later they settled at Rs 7 crore. Mangle had threatened Mopalwar that he and his daughter will have to face consequences if he did not pay the money,” he said.
Mopalwar had video recorded of their extortion demand, which they had made at a five-star hotel in Mumbai on October 31, he said.
According to an official, Mopalwar had approached the AEC of Thane Police and lodged his complaint in this connection.
After studying the video recording and other evidences, an offence was lodged against them and a trap was laid at Mangle’s residence in Dombivali, he said.
“A policemen in plain clothes was sent to Mangle’s house to give Rs 1 crore as an instalment of extortion. The AEC sleuths arrested Mangle and his wife while accepting the cash,” he said.
“As of now, we have arrested two accused in this case, we have launched a search operation to nab their two other aides,” he added.
Mangle, a private detective, had came in contact with Mopalwar, when the latter sought his help in his divorce-related issue, the official said.
While working on the issue, Mangle had made some call recordings after which Mangle had demanded extortion from Mopalwar and provided some audio clips to the news channels which were aired later, he said.
“Mangle and his wife made some serious allegations of corruption against Mopalwar and were contacting politicians, mediapersons in this connection, after which he demanded Rs 10 crore to withdraw all the allegations of corruption and to return the audio clips,” the official said.