Owner of Maneuvers bar faces criminal, liquor charges
By Bob Okon firstname.lastname@example.org September 19, 2013 9:52PM
Fred Schramm (left), owner of Maneuvers bar in Joliet, and his attorney hear testimony Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013, during a liquor commission disciplinary hearing. John Wise, the city attorney for liquor cases, is in the background. | Bob Okon~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 21, 2013 2:30PM
The owner of a popular Joliet gay bar may lose his liquor license after he was arrested this summer following a confrontation with two customers and allegedly pulled feces out of his pants while being hauled to jail.
Fred Schramm, who opened Maneuvers bar in 1980, is facing a felony charge of criminal damage to property and a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge from his alleged actions in the squad car the night of his arrest in July.
Schramm appeared with his attorney Thursday at a hearing before the city liquor commission. He could lose his liquor license if convicted.
“Typically, if you commit a felony while you’re operating a bar, you lose your liquor license,” John Wise, the city attorney handling the liquor case said Thursday after a hearing against Schramm was adjourned for the day.
Wise is not handling the criminal case, which is separate and still pending.
But he was the city’s lawyer at the liquor commission’s disciplinary hearing, which outlined allegations against Schramm. Police described the bar owner as drunk, cursing, and even making threats against a customer in their presence when they arrived after a report of a disturbance in the early morning hours of July 28.
Schramm’s attorney probed the accuracy of the police version of events and questioned why the bar owner was arrested at all without a more throrough investigation into why he wanted the two customers out of Maneuvers.
Thursday’s hearing lasted four hours with only the city’s side being presented. Schramm’s case will be presented when the liquor commission reconvenes the hearing in city hall at 1:30 p.m. Oct. 2.
Schramm declined to comment on the case.
Police officers testified Thursday that they arrested Schramm for misdemeanor disorderly conduct after he repeatedly called a female customer a “bitch” and even made threatening comments about her in their presence when they arrived in response to a disturbance at Maneuvers.
“He threatened her,” arresting Officer Philip Emph said. “He said, ‘You’re going to get yours, bitch. Somebody’s going to kick your ass.”
Schramm’s attorney, Anthony Tomkiewicz, questioned Emph’s account of his client’s words, claiming that the police officer had quoted the threats differently in a report filed that night.
Tomkiewicz, in his questions, also suggested that Schramm only was arrested after police prompted the woman whom he was cursing when they arrived. Police said they arrested Schramm for disorderly conduct because of the impact his name-calling and threats were having on the woman.
“Did you ask (her) if she was alarmed and disturbed by what Mr. Schramm was allegedly doing, or did she volunteer that?” Tomkiewicz asked Emph, who answered, “I don’t recall.”
Officer Jerry Austin, who arrived at the scene with Emph, testified that Schramm was calling the officers “homosexual haters” after he was arrested.
“He was belligerent with us,” Austin said. “Because of his sexual preference, he said, we were picking on him.”
On the way to the police station, Austin said, he noticed Schramm making strange movements in the back seat of the squad. When they got to the station, Austin said, he discovered that Schramm had been taking paper out of a police ticket tin used to store documents and shoving it in the back of his pants.
The hearing took bizarre turns as Tomkiewicz questioned officers in detail as to how they were able to determine whether fecal matter had been spread from Schramm’s pants into the squad car. Police contend that fecal matter was spread to the paper, the ticket tin, and even the seat of the car.
Whether those accusations hold up in court could determine whether Schramm keeps his liquor license.
Tomkiewicz also questioned why police did not investigate Schramm’s complaints about the two customers before arresting him. He said that he plans to bring five witnesses, including three bar patrons, a manager and a bouncer, to testify when the hearing resumes.