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Betts v. Dept. of Revenue

OPINION FILED OCTOBER 18, 1979.

CURTIS BETTS ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,

v.

THE DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. REGINALD J. HOLZER, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE ROMITI DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

This is an appeal from the dismissal of an amended complaint seeking injunctive relief. Plaintiffs, Curtis Betts and Curtis Pharmacy, Inc., filed a complaint on July 24, 1978, against the State of Illinois, Illinois Department of Revenue, Daniel Lenckos, acting director of that department, Thomas J. Gesiakowski of that department, Governor Thompson, and "unknown defendants." That complaint was dismissed on defendants' motion, but with leave to amend. On September 12, 1978, plaintiffs filed an amended complaint and petition for immediate injunction against the same defendants. Defendants again moved to strike the complaint and dismiss the action, and on October 13, 1978, the trial court denied plaintiffs' motion for a temporary injunction and dismissed the cause with prejudice. On appeal plaintiffs contend that their complaint, as amended, did state a cause of action for injunctive relief.

We affirm the order of the trial court.

In their amended complaint plaintiffs make allegations concerning the actions of three State agencies: the Illinois Department of Law Enforcement (DLE), the Illinois Department of Revenue (DR), and the Illinois Department of Registration and Education (DRE).

Concerning the DLE plaintiffs allege that an employee of Curtis Pharmacy, Stephen Davis, was induced to sell prescription pharmaceuticals to two agents of DLE, Joyce Jones and John Lofton. DLE agents, "at the direction of their supervisor and unknown individuals," presented false affidavits to the circuit court stating that defendant Betts had sold Dexedrine, a Class II substance, to agent Jones. Plaintiffs allege that defendants knew these representations were false because defendant Betts was outside Illinois at the time of the alleged sale, Dexedrine was not yet a Class II substance on July 1, 1975, when the sale took place, and the agents had not received any pharamaceuticals from Betts without a prescription. Plaintiffs further allege that agents of DLE (the Illinois Bureau of Investigation) swore falsely to obtain a criminal conviction against Betts. Plaintiffs then state that this conviction is being appealed and the individual agents are being sued in Federal court.

Plaintiffs also allege that DLE "without notice and hearing secretly" revoked the gun registration of Betts. Subsequently, in retaliation for the filing of plaintiffs' suit DLE, in conspiracy with the Chicago Police Department, caused a complaint to be filed on August 18, 1978, against Betts, falsely alleging that he possessed a firearm upon which the registration had been revoked. Plaintiffs state that DLE and the Chicago police knew the complainant was committing "wilful perjury" because he had no personal knowledge that Betts possessed the weapon, which "was mysteriously missing after the police raid of November 1, 1977." On the same day the complaint concerning the weapon was filed plaintiffs allege that "individuals in the employ of the Chicago Police Department" appeared at Betts' home at midnight and "without a warrant, in violation of the Fourth Amendment * * * searched [his] home, used crowbars to break into locked cabinets * * * then, after discovering cash belonging to Betts, the search ended, the money was taken from the premises, and Mrs. Betts * * * was arrested for a crime." Plaintiffs allege, upon their belief, that DLE agents "intend to commit further perjury to cover-up [these] actions." Plaintiffs further allege, upon their belief, that the money discovered in the search has not been properly inventoried and agents of DLE and the Chicago Police Department "have been unjustly enriched."

As to the Department of Revenue, plaintiffs allege that on September 15, 1976, DR agents entered Curtis Pharmacy and closed the business, seizing the personal property of the plaintiffs without warrant or notice. Subsequent to this raid plaintiffs allege that DR commenced administrative hearings which were unconstitutional and in violation of article I of the Illinois Constitution because they were "Star Chamber Proceedings" where the "prosecutor and judge are one single individual." Plaintiffs then allege that prior to a determination of sales tax liability, DR "invaded the privacy of plaintiffs" by inquiring into their personal bank accounts at Chicago City Bank & Trust Company. DR then "wrongfully and without authority of statute" served a lien in the sum of $15,423.28 on that bank. According to plaintiffs this was filed prior to the completion of the hearing to determine if money was owed. Plaintiffs allege that the lien was served to prevent them from paying for the legal fees and costs to review DR's action. Plaintiffs next allege that DR filed 13 criminal complaints against Betts "in retaliation" for filing this lawsuit. (These complaints were made part of the record as part of plaintiffs' original petition for an injunction. They relate to plaintiff Betts' alleged failure to file monthly Combined Retailers' Occupation Tax and Service Occupation Tax Returns for the months between January 1977 and January 1978 inclusive.) Finally, plaintiffs allege that DR "broadcast, in public, threats to jail Betts and referred to him as a `crook'."

Plaintiffs allege that the Illinois Department of Registration and Education on or about November 11, 1977, "in conspiracy with other persons who filed criminal complaints in the name of the People of the State of Illinois" caused two raids, two days apart, to occur "without warrant, seizing customers, merchandise, pharmaceuticals, records, firearms * * * cash and monies." DRE also filed perjured complaints against customers and employees of Curtis Pharmacy. DRE, according to plaintiffs, conducted pharmacy inspections to examine records seized in these raids "in conspiracy with other State Agencies and persons acting on behalf of the State of Illinois." As part of this same conspiracy plaintiffs allege the DRE libeled and slandered them by making false assertions to the media, creating the impression that plaintiffs were "dope pushers and/or persons of ill repute"; invaded their privacy with "unauthorized investigations"; revoked their license without notice and hearing, and when ordered by the court to conduct a hearing conducted only a "sham hearing" in violation of due process; attempted to induce David Johnson and Alfred Evans to commit perjury and testify "that plaintiff was committing various and sundry criminal acts"; and forced plaintiffs to pay almost double the statutory charge for a record of proceedings.

In their complaint plaintiffs support their need for equitable relief by alleging essentially the following: Betts has been convicted and sentenced to jail upon perjured evidence; Betts' family has been harassed by telephone calls and warrantless searches; Betts' money and property have been taken from him in the amount of over $100,000; his reputation has been tarnished by false media charges; plaintiffs' bank accounts have been liened for arbitrary sums prior to completion of hearings; Betts' employees and customers were arrested on false and perjured charges. Plaintiffs allege that the threat of future injury continues as indicated by the 13 criminal complaints filed by DR and the raid by agents of DLE and the Chicago Police Department.

Plaintiffs state that their remedy at law is not adequate. They contend in the complaint that unless defendants are enjoined "they will continue filing numerous proceedings against [plaintiffs], conduct more and different illegal searches and seizures, and further deny the [plaintiffs] the equal protection of the law."

Plaintiffs also allege, upon their belief, that "the actions of the Defendants are motivated by [Betts] being a member of a `minority race' which is a violation of the Illinois Constitution of 1970." Plaintiffs conclude their amended complaint with a prayer for the following relief:

"1. That this Court grant a People's Writ of Injunction, enjoining the administration of GOVERNOR JAMES R. THOMPSON and all persons associated with him, from directly or indirectly, taking any action which affects the property rights of CURTIS BETTS and/or CURTIS PHARMACY, INC.

2. That a Peoples Writ of Injunction enter, requiring the STATE OF ILLINOIS and its subsidiaries, including the Office of the Attorney General, Department of Registration and Education, Department of Revenue, etc. to undo, vitiate, abrogate and render for nought, any actions which directly or indirectly affect the liberty or property rights of CURTIS BETTS, commencing with the unlawful arrest of CURTIS BETTS and continuing through all actions taken to date.

3. That the STATE OF ILLINOIS, Department of Revenue and the individual Defendants in the administration of GOVERNOR THOMPSON be required to account and to render CURTIS BETTS and CURTIS PHARMACY, INC., equal protection of the law, paying him such sums as he ...


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