Former Owner of Oak Park Gay Club Charged with Arson

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The former owner of a gay nightclub destroyed by a fire in Oak Park last year has reportedly been charged with arson and insurance fraud, Oak Park police said Saturday.

    Frank Elliot, 26, owned and operated the Velvet Rope Lounge, the only gar bar in Oak Park, when it burned down in a fire in June 2012.

    Police deemed the fire “suspicious” at the time and were investigating it.

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    Frank Elliott, owner of Velvet Rope Lounge, said derogatory messages were found on one of the walls after the fire inside the nightclub, the only gay bar in Oak Park. Officials are investigation the incident as arson.

    "It is suspicious and it is being investigated as an arson," said Oak Park Police Commander Phyliss Howard said after the fire.

    Elliot was arrested Friday night and charged with two counts of arson and one count of insurance fraud, according to the Chicago Tribune.

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    Elliot said after the fire that derogatory messages were found on one of the walls inside the lounge and said his safe was untouched at the bar and alleged the fire was started “to make a point.”

    The fire gutted the lounge, and next-door businesses Geppetto’s Toy Box and the Flat Top Grille were also damaged.

    Elliot is scheduled to appear in bond court Saturday, the Tribune reported. If convicted, he could face up to seven years in prison for each count of arson and 15 years for insurance fraud.