A 46-year-old man has pleaded not guilty to cheating the Chicago Cubs out of royalty payments so patrons could view games at Wrigley Field from his rooftop club.
R. Marc Hamid's lawyer entered the plea Thursday at an arraignment in federal court in Chicago. The co-owner of Skybox on Sheffield faces four counts of mail fraud for allegedly defrauding the Cubs and tax authorities out of $600,000.
Hamid was indicted on federal charges March 26. According to the indictment, Skybox allegedly submitted false annual royalty statements to the Cubs from 2008 to 2011, underreporting event attendance figures by thousands of paid attendees and underreporting revenues for the rooftop by a total of more than $1.5 million. The move reportedly kept Skybox from paying hundreds of thousands of dollars due to state and local taxing authorities.
The Chicago businessman told U.S. Magistrate Judge Geraldine Brown he understood the charges and that he could face up to 20 years in prison on each count if convicted.
Rooftop businesses offer views of games without being inside the stadium. Ongoing renovations to modernize the ballpark and place signs that obstruct rooftop views prompted several rooftop businesses to sue in separate civil cases.