Illinois Club, Video Store Fined $204K Each

Tod Hunter
WAUKEGAN, Ill. — A Lake County judge has fined the owners of a strip club and an adult video store $204,500 each for violating a county law regulating adult establishments.

In separate rulings, Circuit Judge Margaret Mullen wrote that Danny Christofalos, owner of Baby Dolls, and George Stamatopolous, owner of Video Magic, never got licenses for their businesses and ran their businesses in ways that violated sections of a 1998 Adult Use Ordinance that fines adult businesses $500 for each day they violate the law.

The law was opposed by local adult businesses, which sued Lake County to get it overturned. It was upheld by a country judge and by the state Appellate Court. The Illinois Supreme Court refused to hear the case, as did the U.S. Supreme Court.

Mullen imposed the fine for each business for 409 days, from May 15, 2006, when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal, to June 28, when she ordered them closed for noncompliance.

"It's a very good outcome," Assistant State's Attorney Dan Jasica, who argued the case, said. "It's been a long time coming, and we will now pursue collections."

Lou Pissios, an attorney for the businesses, said he would appeal the ruling.

The ordinance requires adult businesses to be closed from midnight to noon and on federal and state holidays. It prohibits nude performances, direct tipping and people under 21 from receiving or buying goods or services. It makes specific requirements regarding performance areas and signage.

In her decision, Mullen said that Video Magic was open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and on holidays. She wrote that the store's booths didn't have "permanently open and unobstructed entranceways."

Mullen also wrote that Baby Dolls was open after midnight every night, held nude performances, served underage patrons and allowed direct tipping.

In addition to the fines, the business owners were ordered to pay court costs, which Jasica said could total more than $400,000.

Jasica said if the defendants appeal, the county will require bail in the amount of the fines, "so the money's there, so if we win we don't have to chase them down for the money."