Drug Busts ‘In, Around’ Parking Lot On City Land By United Center

CHICAGO (CBS) — Undercover police officers bought heroin, crack cocaine and fentanyl earlier this month “in and around” a parking lot on city-owned land near the United Center that City Hall has been trying to shut down.

“There were seven arrests with 17 targets,” police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told the Chicago Sun-Times. “Six of the seven arrested were convicted felons. Of the 17 targets, 13 were gang members.”

The police bought nearly 19 grams of heroin, nearly 34 grams of crack and nearly 6 grams of fentanyl during the week of Dec. 12 “in the vicinity or on the property of” Peoples Stadium Parking between 1700 and 1716 W. Madison, according to Guglielmi.

“We were getting complaints about drug activity,” Guglielmi says, adding that the case has been referred to other city agencies regarding the operation of the parking lot.

City Hall has been trying to shut down the lot since December 2014, when the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the fenced parking lot includes land owned by the city of Chicago and that Peoples didn’t have a lease with the city allowing it to park cars there.

Peoples — owned by the family of attorney Ronald Shudnow — has filed a lawsuit that’s blocked the city from shutting down the lot, and the company had continued to park cars on the city land, though an attorney for Peoples says that’s no longer being done.

“Since mid-November . . . Peoples Stadium Parking has no longer been operating on the city’s lots at 1700-16 Madison,” where two of the four lots are city-owned, according to attorney Stephen Novack. “As far as we know, those city lots are not being operated and are sitting vacant and unattended.”

Novack says: “The busts took place during non-work hours and, to the best of our knowledge, not on Peoples Stadium Parking’s lots nor the city’s lots. Only two of the 43 arrestees were employed (as car flaggers) by Peoples Stadium Parking, and they were not on duty at the time.”

Shudnow’s family has been operating parking lots around the United Center and the old Chicago Stadium for decades. They began using the city-owned property under a five-year deal reached in 1996 with the Daley administration to resolve a lawsuit over land for the United Center. The family kept using the property without a lease, saying it had a legal right under business licenses it has from City Hall.

The city has filed a counter-claim to Peoples’ lawsuit, seeking “fair-market rent,” and officials “are currently reviewing and evaluating the police reports to determine if the alleged drug-related activity meets the legal threshold to warrant a license revocation,” Law Department spokesman Bill McCaffrey says.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2016. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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