Wrigley Field Rooftop Owner Indicted In Alleged Scheme To Defraud Chicago Cubs, State And Local Taxing Authorities
CHICAGO ― An owner and operator of a rooftop entertainment venue overlooking Wrigley Field was indicted on federal fraud charges for allegedly scheming to withhold approximately $600,000 due and owing collectively to the Chicago Cubs, the State of Illinois, Cook County, and the City of Chicago, federal law enforcement officials announced today.
The defendant, R. MARC HAMID, 46, an attorney licensed in Illinois and residing in Chicago, owned and operated the rooftop venue Skybox on Sheffield located beyond the right field wall and bleachers of Wrigley Field. Hamid also owned and operated companies that purchased and re-sold tickets to entertainment and sporting events, including JustGreatTickets.com and Just Great Seats. Hamid was charged with four counts of mail fraud in an indictment that was returned yesterday by a federal grand jury. He will be arraigned on a date yet to be determined in U.S. District Court.
The indictment also seeks forfeiture of at least $600,000 in alleged fraud proceeds.
According to the indictment, for the years 2008 through 2011, Hamid caused Skybox on Sheffield to submit false annual royalty statements to the Chicago Cubs that fraudulently under-reported event attendance figures by thousands of paid attendees, and under-reported gross revenues for the rooftop by a total of more than $1.5 million. By concealing the actual revenues of Skybox on Sheffield from the Cubs, Hamid caused Skybox on Sheffield to withhold hundreds of thousands of dollars in royalty payments rightfully owed to the Cubs under the terms of the rooftop’s agreement with the Cubs.
Hamid also caused Skybox on Sheffield to submit false sales tax returns to the State of Illinois and false amusement tax returns to Cook County and the City of Chicago that fraudulently under-reported event attendance and gross revenues during 2008-2011. By concealing the actual attendance and revenues of Skybox on Sheffield, Hamid caused Skybox on Sheffield to withhold hundreds of thousands of dollars due and owing to the state and local taxing authorities.
According to the indictment, Hamid caused Skybox on Sheffield to falsely report that the rooftop had 200 or fewer attendees at certain events, when Hamid knew that more than 200 persons had attended the events, making it appear that the rooftop had complied with city ordinances limiting the number of attendees at the rooftop to 200 per event. Hamid also allegedly caused sales revenues for Skybox on Sheffield to be diverted to his ticket businesses, including Just Great Tickets and Just Great Seats, in order to conceal some of the rooftop revenues from the Cubs and others. According to the indictment, Hamid used the unlawfully withheld funds to pay Hamid’s personal expenses, and business expenses of Skybox on Sheffield and Hamid’s other businesses.
The indictment was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Stephen Boyd, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation in Chicago; and Tony Gómez, Postal Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Chicago. The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ryan Hedges, Barry Jonas, and Katherine Neff Welsh.
Each count of mail fraud carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine or an alternate fine of twice the loss or twice the gain, whichever is greater. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.
The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.