Former Owner of Rooftop Building Across from Wrigley Field Sentenced to 18 Months for Defrauding Chicago Cubs and Municipal Taxing Agencies
CHICAGO — A federal judge today sentenced the former owner of a rooftop building overlooking Wrigley Field to 18 months in prison for defrauding the Chicago Cubs and municipal taxing agencies.
R. MARC HAMID, 48, of Lincolnwood, was convicted last year on four counts of mail fraud and five counts of illegally structuring financial transactions. U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Durkin imposed the sentence in federal court in Chicago.
“Time and again, Hamid returned to one principle above all others: wherever he thought he could cut corners and put more money in his own pocket, he did it,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Barry Jonas argued in the government’s sentencing memorandum. “If there was a way to benefit himself even if to another’s detriment, he did it.”
The sentence was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; E.C. Woodson, Postal Inspector-in-Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Chicago; and James D. Robnett, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation in Chicago.
Hamid was a licensed Illinois attorney and a former owner and operator of Right Field Rooftops LLC, which did business as Skybox on Sheffield, a rooftop entertainment venue located across the street from Wrigley Field’s right field wall. Hamid also owned and operated JustGreatTickets.com Inc. and Just Great Seats LLC, companies that purchased and re-sold tickets to entertainment and sporting events.
Skybox on Sheffield and other rooftop venues surrounding Wrigley Field had an agreement with the Cubs that required, among other things, that each rooftop pay the Cubs a royalty of 17% of their gross annual revenues. In addition, Cook County and the city of Chicago required the rooftops to pay an amusement tax on admission fees, and to report its amusement tax returns to the municipalities. The state of Illinois also required Skybox on Sheffield to file sales tax returns and to pay the state a certain dollar amount per ticket sold.
Evidence at Hamid’s nine-day trial revealed that for the years 2008 through 2011, Hamid caused Skybox on Sheffield to submit false annual royalty statements to the Cubs that under-reported attendance figures by thousands of paid attendees, and under-reported gross revenues by $1.4 million. At Hamid’s direction, sales from Skybox on Sheffield were diverted to the two ticket companies, thus concealing from the Cubs, Cook County and the city of Chicago Skybox on Sheffield’s true revenue.
Hamid’s accountant, JOSEPH GURDAK, further reduced the attendance and revenue figures reported to the Cubs. Gurdak pleaded guilty last year to one count of mail fraud and one count of willfully filing a false income tax return.
The government is represented by Mr. Jonas and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sean Driscoll and Katherine Welsh.