Maneuvers bar owner denies criminal conduct
By Bob Okon firstname.lastname@example.org October 2, 2013 10:18PM
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: November 4, 2013 12:25PM
The owner of a popular gay bar in Joliet was treated roughly by Joliet police when he was arrested in July and was not intoxicated as police have alleged, defense witnesses testified Wednesday at a city hearing.
Fred Schramm, who has owned Maneuvers since 1980, faces the potential loss of his liquor license because one of the criminal charges against him, criminal damage to property, is a felony.
His attorney contended in a closing statement that Schramm’s civil rights were violated when he was arrested in the early morning of July 28 outside Maneuvers, 118 E. Jefferson St.
The hearing Wednesday was before the city’s liquor commission, with the criminal case to come later.
Schramm agreed to testify when called by the city Wednesday as its last witness in the case. His testimony and that of five witnesses called in his defense was at times completely opposite to that given two weeks ago by police officers and two customers who claimed they were harassed by Schramm at the bar.
The criminal charges against Schramm are tied to accusations that he defecated in a police car while being driven to the police station and smeared feces on a ticket bin in the back seat of the car.
Schramm testified Wednesday that the ticket bin was not in the back seat, and “I don’t recall any papers back there.” He acknowledged soiling himself but said that happened while he was arrested and was due to a medical condition that causes him to lose bowel control when “hit hard.” He said he told police about it when it happened.
“When I was slammed against the police car, that’s when I told them,” Schramm said. “No one acknowledged it.”
Schramm testified that he had one drink, a shot, that night. He and the five witnesses said he was not intoxicated when police arrived.
Police officers testified previously that Schramm’s speech was slurred, his walk was unsteady and his breath smelled of alcohol when they arrived at the bar that night. They said Schramm accused them of hating homosexuals, and they did not use undue force when arresting him.
Two customers, a man and a woman, who got into a dispute with Schramm that night, testified that he was drunk, shouted obscenities at them and blocked their way as they tried to leave.
But the defense witnesses and Schramm said the customers were unruly, and Schramm was trying to get the man out of the bar because he was concerned that he would start a fight. The woman, they said, was screaming at Schramm and directed a homosexual slur at him.
The officers testified that they arrested Schramm for disorderly conduct because he was shouting a derogatory term toward the female customer, who said she felt threatened.
Schramm told the commission that he called the woman the name once while police were there and was arrested after one of the officers told him to stop using the word and he did again.
Schramm’s attorney, Anthony Tomkiewicz, said Shramm should not have been arrested for referring to the woman with a crude word and noted that only one witness, a police officer, testified that Schramm made any kind of a threat.
Tomkiewicz also got police reports of the incident entered as evidence against the objections of Assistant City Attorney John Wise. Tomkiewicz said the reports contradict testimony during the hearing, including the allegation that Schramm spread feces in the squad car.