Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2020-08-05
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



T's owner wears wire, gets new audits
by Kate Sosin, Windy City Times

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

The auditor asked him to lunch. That was the first sign that something was off.

The year was 2007, and Colm Treacy, owner of popular LGBT hangout T's Restaurant, was closing out his second successful year with his newer business, Sofo Bar (Treacy has since sold Sofo and is not affiliated with The Sofo Tap, at that same location, in any way.)

Sofo had been randomly selected for a state audit but instead of telling him how much he owed, the auditor promised that if he slipped cash into an envelope and tossed it into an open car window across the street, he would never have another problem again.

Months later, Treacy would participate in an FBI anti-bribery sting on the auditor.

Today, Treacy is facing his third Illinois Department of Revenue audit in five years (this one of T's Restaurant), more than $100,000 in fines and the threat of closure by Oct. 16, according to Treacy.

The story according to Treacy

Treacy said he first met the auditor in spring 2007. Rather than talking at Sofo, the man suggested they get lunch in the neighborhood. Over lunch, the auditor broke the news to Treacy that it appeared he could owe a lot of money, but he declined to say how much. The auditor talked at length about other businesses, small ones like Treacy's that had been ruined by fines owed after audits.

"He was wishy-washy and wouldn't give me a specific number," said Treacy.

What he did give Treacy was an out.

Treacy could slip a few thousand dollars into an envelope. (Treacy said the sum was either $3,000 or $5,000, but he cannot recall which.)

"He was very schmoozy," said Treacy. "He was like, 'Either way, pal, we're not going to have a problem.' ... He made it seem like he had all the power."

Treacy could walk across the street to the lot where the auditor's car had been backed in against a wall and toss the envelope into the back seat of the car.

"I happened to have [the money] in the safe at the bar," said Treacy.

He did as he had been told.

As he went to walk away, it occurred to him that he should note the auditor's license plate number, but then he saw that the front plate was missing.

An entire summer went by before Treacy heard again from the auditor, he said. The man wanted to meet to sign off on the audit papers. Fearing that the man would ask for money and that he was digging himself into a bad situation, Treacy contacted the Illinois Attorney General's office, who contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The FBI asked Treacy to participate in a sting, Treacy said. His goal would be to get the auditor to acknowledge taking bribes while Treacy was wearing a wire.

A few days before the meeting with auditor, agents came to Sofo to scope out the bar for places to install cameras and they met with Treacy give him an idea of how it would go.

The day of the meeting, agents wired Treacy and gave him a coat that Treacy believes contained a second audio recorder and camera. A group of agents listened from Treacy's house nearby, and two undercover officers waited outside Sofo.

"I was told to the open the door, make sure he walked in first and pretend to lock the door, just in case something went wrong," Treacy said.

In the event that Treacy felt his safety was in danger, he could say the code phrase, "It's my birthday," and agents would come into the building.

Treacy was told to do exactly the same things he had done at the first meeting.

When the auditor arrived at Sofo, Treacy pretended to lock the door behind them. The two sat down.

"He told me to take off my coat, and that made me nervous because I thought he was onto me straight away," Treacy said.

"My job was to get him to admit to, did I give him cash? That was my job," Treacy said. "I was left with the impression that there was certainly going to be no backlash from this, that everything was going to be okay. Certainly, my money wasn't going to be returned. I knew that."

The auditor began to talk about money Treacy owed.

"I started to say, 'but you told me when I gave money.' And he goes, 'What money? I know nothing of any money.'"

A few minutes later, the man asked for some paperwork. Treacy went downstairs to his office to get it. When he looked up from his desk drawer a few moments later, he saw the auditor standing right over him.

"It scared me at that point," Treacy recalled. He almost said, "It's my birthday," but hesitated.

The man suggested they take a drive in his car.

In the auditor's car, Treacy was not sure if FBI agents could hear them talking over the wire anymore. The further they got from Sofo, the more nervous Treacy became. The auditor drove them to lunch at the restaurant they had been to before and Treacy ordered the same thing he had the first time.

Toward the end of the meal, the auditor commented to Treacy that he didn't shake down large companies, just smaller ones without attorneys. It was the statement the FBI needed, said Treacy.

Finally, the auditor drove them back to Sofo where Treacy signed paperwork. The auditor left.

"They assured me this was just going to be a piece of cake," Treacy said. "Well since then, it hasn't been a piece of cake."

A few months later, someone from the FBI called Treacy and told him they had used the recording in proceedings against the auditor and that the auditor had recognized his voice. It was not difficult. Treacy grew up in Ireland and has an accent. The person added that if he ever saw the auditor again, to immediately call 911.

"Shortly after that, I received in the mail an audit for T's," Treacy said.

T's Restaurant was Treacy's other business, the popular Andersonville gay bar/eatery just steps away from Sofo. While Treacy has expanded in the years since he opened T's in 2001, T's has always been his home base.

Treacy was suspicious of the audit. FBI agents had told him that his story would not be shared within the Illinois Department of Revenue, but an audit of T's so soon after the sting set him on edge.

A few months after the audit notice, Treacy went to the Department of Revenue to renew his liquor license for T's.

"The person was extremely rude to me," Treacy said. "He said you're the one that had the issue with Sofo … . I was told to my face that I was a troublemaker."

Treacy called his contact at the FBI. The contact assured Treacy that his story had not been shared and that the Department of Revenue confirmed the audit on T's was random.

After a yearlong audit process, in 2009, Treacy received notice that he owed more than $100,000 in taxes and fines. His accountant was boggled, Treacy said.

Treacy wrote a check for $78,000 a few days later.

Displeased with his accounting firm, Treacy hired a new accountant and asked him to look into the balance he still owed from the audit. The accountant reported back that he could not find any record of the money owed. Treacy went himself to the department and was told he owed no money. No record of the original taxes and fines appeared to exist, he said.

Over the next few years, odd things happened at T's and Sofo. Treacy's tires were slashed and the windows of both bars were broken several times. T's had two break-ins. From 2010-2011, the phone at T's often rang ceaselessly late at night, with no one responding on the other line when Treacy picked up. Treacy said the incidents could have been coincidental.

On July 25 of this year, Treacy received a bill from the Department of Revenue for overdue taxes owed since 2009 plus fines that had accrued in that time. The bill appeared to be the same one that vanished three years prior, the one that Treacy alleges he had already paid $78,000 on. Now, the charges totaled $113,743.

Treacy called the Department of Revenue.

"I tell this lady pretty much my story because I'm in a panic," he said. "She was just really rude."

If he didn't pay a third of the bill, she told him, his liquor license would be revoked by Oct. 16.

"Within a few days, I get certified mail that I'm being re-audited," Treacy said. "Now I feel like I'm being really harassed."

Treacy cannot immediately pay the amount he needs to keep his liquor license, he said.

When he got word of his latest audit, he contacted the Illinois Attorney General's office and spoke with someone familiar with his story. But he said no one from that office has followed up with him.

Consequently, T's could be facing closure Oct. 16, according to Treacy.

Out of options, he said, he reluctantly decided to go public with his story.

Beyond Treacy's story

Treacy's version of events is hard to confirm. He does not have documentation from the first two audits, which were never fully settled, nor does he have record of the FBI sting.

Treacy did provide Windy City Times with documentation of his most recent audit and a copy of his bill with fines dating back to the 2008-2009 audit.

Natalie Bauer, a spokesperson for the Illinois attorney general's office, said she cannot comment on individual investigations, including whether her office worked with Treacy on the bribery allegations.

Further confusing matters is Treacy's inability to recall the name of the auditor in question. A search of local media outlets did not yield information about charges filed against a Department of Revenue auditor from 2007-2009. The Cook County state's attorney's office is unable to search for the case without the auditor's name, a spokesperson said.

Joan Hyde, a spokesperson for the FBI, said she is also unable to comment on investigations but said that—unlike Treacy's assertion that the FBI promised to keep his identity secret—the FBI rarely makes promises to conceal identity.

"It's rare that we maintain someone's confidentiality forever," Hyde said, adding that in instances where someone's safety is a threat the FBI does try to protect identity.

Asked about Treacy's allegations, Greg Rivara, a spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Revenue, said that the department cannot comment on Treacy's situation due to confidentiality rules.

"However, the department is aware of Mr. Treacy's concerns and has called him multiple times to discuss," he said. "Mr. Treacy has not responded to messages left for him."

Treacy said he has been in touch with the department regarding the audits and that his attorney, Sean Mulroney, is also following up.

Mulroney said he is considering legal options for stalling proceedings against T's Restaurant and Treacy.

He questions why, if Treacy has owed more than $100,000 in back taxes and fines from 2009, he has been able to renew his liquor license the past three years without having to go on a payment plan.

"It's an attempt to put a guy out of business," said Mulroney.

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Bronx District Attorney Clark declines to charge officers who killed resident in his home 2020-08-14 - New York, NY - In response to Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark's decision not to charge NYPD Officers Brendan Thompson and Herbert Davis, ...

Gay News

Coalition of state lawmakers proposes sweeping ethics reforms 2020-08-14 - In the wake of the numerous, ongoing federal investigations involving bribery, influence peddling and insider-trading impacting state government officials and lobbyists, a broad ...

Gay News

NATIONAL Bakery situation, tribal marriage, anti-LGBTQ crimes, Penn. lawmakers 2020-08-10 - Extreme right-wing organization the Church Militant requested that Detroit bakery Good Cakes and Bakes co-owner April Anderson ( who's LGBTQ ) put on ...

Gay News

WORLD Israel incident, Cayman marriage, singer comes out, Poland arrests 2020-08-10 - The Israel Police arrested a 16-year-old from the central Israeli city of Lod on suspicion that he took part in a violent attack ...

Gay News

HRC Foundation, HIT release study on voters of color, voting by mail 2020-08-06 - The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) Foundation and HIT Strategies released the first results of a national survey of voters of color, ...

Gay News

Restorative juvenile courts coming to Avondale, Englewood 2020-08-05 - The Circuit Court of Cook County is set to launch its latest effort to address nonviolent crime and prevent recidivism with the opening ...

Gay News

Asha Ransby-Sporn talks building on the anti-racism movement's legacy 2020-08-05 - With anti-racism protests happening around the United States, in what some media outlets are saying is the largest movement in this country's history, ...

Gay News

NATIONAL Anti-trans killings, surveys, 'Trans Care' book, gay-bar news 2020-08-05 - Gay City News reported that an individual who the NYPD said was fatally stabbed at a Bronx apartment building on July 26 was ...

Gay News

WORLD Human Rights Watch items, Indian prince, British Vogue 2020-08-05 - A Human Rights Watch report says that gay and bisexual men in Syria, along with transgender women, have been suffering horrific sexual violence ...

Gay News

Pritzker announces new approach for juvenile justice 2020-07-31 - On July 31, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker and Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton announced the 21st Century Illinois Transformation Model—a new plan that aims ...


Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.