Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Sixth Division
59th & STATE STREET CORPORATION, JOSE VASQUEZ, President, Plaintiff-Appellant,
RAHM EMANUEL, Mayor of the City of Chicago and Local Liquor Control Commissioner; MARIA GUERRA, Acting Director of the Department of Business Affairs; THE LOCAL LIQUOR CONTROL COMMISSION OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO; DENNIS M. FLEMING, Chairman of the License Appeal Commission of the City of Chicago; and Members of the License Appeal Commission of the City of Chicago, Defendants-Appellees.
from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 13 CH 18191
Honorable Rita M. Novak, Judge, Presiding.
PRESIDING JUSTICE HOFFMAN delivered the judgment of the
court, with opinion. Justices Cunningham and Rochford
concurred in the judgment and opinion.
HOFFMAN PRESIDING JUSTICE.
1 The plaintiff, 59th & State Street Corporation, appeals
from orders of the circuit court of Cook County, affirming a
final administrative decision of the License Appeal
Commission of the City of Chicago (LAC) which affirmed an
order of the Local Liquor Control Commission of the City of
Chicago (LLCC) which revoked its retail liquor license for
the premises at 5901 South State Street and imposed fines
totaling $17, 000 against it for firearms related violations
of State statutes and Chicago municipal ordinances. For the
reasons which follow, we affirm.
2 The plaintiff has not argued that any of the factual
findings upon which the order of the LLCC is based are
against the manifest weight of the evidence. As a
consequence, the following factual recitation is taken from
the factual findings of the deputy hearing commissioner who
presided over the hearing held in connection with the
disciplinary proceedings regarding the plaintiff's liquor
license and the transcript of those proceedings contained
within the record.
3 The City of Chicago (City) issued a license to the
plaintiff for the sale of liquor on the first floor at 5901
South State Street. On January 21, 2011, at approximately 5:44
p.m., a task force of City employees arrived at the store to
conduct an inspection. The task force consisted of seven
police officers, one fire inspector, two health inspectors,
one building inspector, and one official from the Department
of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection. Carlos Vasquez,
the plaintiff's corporate secretary, was at the store
when the task force arrived.
4 The front portion of first floor of the building at 5901
South State Street contained a sales area. Located within the
sales area were shelves of food; coolers containing beer,
soda, and frozen food items; and a cash register. A doorway
in the rear of the sales area provided access to stairs
leading to the second floor, stairs leading to the basement,
and a first-floor storage area. The first-floor storage area
contained cases of liquor, supplies, and a large safe. A door
leading to a small first-floor office was located near the
rear of the building.
5 One of the Chicago police officers, Greg Golucki, went
through the doorway at the rear of the sales area and
ascended the stairs to the second floor. According to Officer
Golucki, the second floor consisted of a large open space
with six doors along two of the walls. He testified that none
of the doors were locked, and he entered each of the rooms.
One of the rooms was an office in which he found documents
relating to the first-floor business and a safe containing a
gutter-like spout running through the floor to the cash
register area on the first floor. Another room was a
bathroom. The remaining rooms appeared to be bedrooms, each
containing a box spring, a mattress, and a desk.
6 Officer Golucki testified that he found a .38 caliber
bullet in an ashtray located on a nightstand in the first
bedroom which he entered. He did not see any personal items
located in the room. Officer Golucki returned to the first
floor where he showed the bullet to Officer Brian Kavanaugh.
When Officer Golucki asked Carlos who occupied the room in
which the bullet was found, Carlos responded
"nobody." Officer Kavanaugh asked Carlos if there
were any firearms on the premises. Carlos responded in the
negative, after which Officer Kavanaugh asked him to open the
large safe located in the rear storage room. Claiming not to
know the combination, Carlos declined. In response to an
inquiry by Officer Kavanaugh, Carlos stated that his brother,
Jose Vasquez, knew the combination. After calling his
brother, Carlos opened the safe. When the safe was opened,
the officers discovered what Officer Kavanaugh described as
two "assault type weapons:" an Iver Johnson Arms
.320 caliber pistol with an eight-inch barrel and an AA Arms,
model AP9, 9 millimeter Luger. Also discovered in the safe
was a quantity of ammunition.
7 After the weapons were discovered in the safe, Officer
Golucki asked Carlos to open the door to the first-floor
office. Carlos complied, and upon entering the office,
Officer Golucki observed papers, file cabinets and a computer
with a surveillance feed from the sales area. In addition,
Officer Golucki found a Remington shotgun next to one of the
file cabinets. Following the discovery of the weapons on the
first floor, Officer Golucki returned to the second floor and
entered the office located on that floor where he found a Dan
Wesson Arms .357 Magnum pistol in a cabinet and a quantity of
ammunition in a sack beneath the gun.
8 Following the discovery of the guns, the officers
determined that Carlos did not have an Illinois Firearm Owner
Identification (FOID) card and that none of the recovered
weapons were registered with the City. Carlos was arrested
and charged criminally.
9 As a consequence of the discovery of the firearms and
ammunition, the City initiated disciplinary proceedings
against the plaintiff regarding its liquor license, charging
12 firearms related violations of the City's ordinances
and State statutes. Pursuant to notice, a hearing was
conducted over seven days before a deputy hearing
commissioner (hearing officer) appointed by the City's
Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection. At
the beginning of the hearing, the plaintiff attempted to
present a motion seeking the suppression of all evidence
obtained during the warrantless search of its premises on
January 21, 2011. The City objected on the grounds that the
plaintiff had failed to provide it with a copy of the motion
in advance of the hearing. The hearing officer denied the
motion, and the City presented evidence in support of the
charges against the plaintiff which included the testimony of
Officers Golucki and Kavanaugh, photographs of the areas
where the firearms and ammunition were found, a certification
from the Illinois State Police stating that Carlos had not
been issued a FOID card, and a certification from the Chicago
police department stating that none of the weapons found at
the plaintiff's premises were registered.
10 Due to the pending criminal charges, Carlos did not
testify at the hearing, and the plaintiff offered no
exculpatory evidence. Rather, in closing argument, the
plaintiff urged the hearing officer to strike and disregard
the City's evidence as having been obtained as the result
of an unlawful warrantless search of portions of its property
which were not part of the licensed premises.
11 Following the hearing, the hearing officer issued written
findings of fact and recommendations. Addressing the
plaintiff's request that he strike the testimony of
Officers Golucki and Kavanaugh and suppress the evidence
obtained as a result of their search of its premises, the
hearing officer found that the provisions of section 4-4-290
of the Chicago Municipal Code (Code) (Chicago Municipal Code
§ 4-4-290 (amended Nov. 19, 2008)) and section 4-4(2) of
the Liquor Control Act of 1934 (Liquor Control Act) (235 ILCS
5/4-4(2) (West 2010)) allowed the officers to enter upon the
plaintiff's licensed premises "at any time to
investigate any potential violations of the law." As a
consequence, he concluded that the search of the
plaintiff's premises was "conducted legally"
and relied upon the evidence presented by the City which
established the existence of firearms on the plaintiff's
premises in support of his findings and recommendation.
Finding the testimony of Officers Golucki and Kavanaugh
"credible and reliable, " ...