|Robert Racky (inset) and the rooftop business he started with three lawnchairs as seen today. | CPD; jessedouglas on Flickr|
It’s been quite a ride for Robert Racky. Armed only with a few lawn chairs, the now 77-year-old businessman literally invented the Wrigleyville rooftop business that lets Cubs fans watch home games from the rooftops of homes along Waveland and Sheffield Avenues.
Born eleven days after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Racky has a squeaky clean criminal record, too. Well, he did until Monday. That’s when he finally decided to plead guilty after fighting a charge of felony disorderly conduct-false report for eight months. A judge sentenced him to two days in jail that he had already served.
So—unlike TV star Jussie Smollett, who was charged with exactly the same felony as the rooftop king—Racky will be wrapping up his life with a criminal record in Chicago.
Racky called 911 around 8:15 a.m. on Aug. 10th last year, and told an operator that he had been carjacked, his wallet had been taken, and that he was lying on the ground in the 1000 block of West Byron, according to court records. When officers arrived, Racky was lying on the hood of a 2005 Chevy Cobalt that had a Chicago Department of Revenue boot on the front driver’s side tire, police said. The car was registered to his company.
Racky immediately admitted that he had not been carjacked, explaining, “That’s what I told  to get you guys over here.” Racky was immediately arrested. When police impounded Racky’s car, they allegedly found a rifle and a shotgun in the trunk.
On Monday, prosecutors dropped the weapons charges completely and reduced the false report charge to Class C disorderly conduct. That’s the lowest-level misdemeanor charge in the state. But, prosecutors insisted that Racky had to plead guilty.
There were some clear differences between Smollett’s allegedly fake hate crime claim and Racky’s case. Racky immediately admitted to police that his report was false. To this day, Smollett has not admitted that he made up the story about being attacked by two men who tied a noose around his neck, poured bleach on him, and shouted anti-gay, anti-black slurs while calling Streeterville “MAGA country.”
The police investigation of Racky’s claim lasted less than ten minutes. The Smollett investigation took weeks and cost the city over $130,000 in police overtime alone.
No one ever heard of Racky’s false claim (unless you read about it on CWBChicago last year). Smollett and his “close associates” leaked his purported attack story to the Hollywood media and then fanned the flames of hate while the national spotlight shined on Chicago.
And, Racky didn’t have a state-issued Firearm Owner’s ID card.
On the other hand, Smollett had a criminal history of providing false information to police in California, while Racky had never been convicted of any crime despite being twice Smollett’s age.
Smollett’s case was quickly wrapped up last month in a controversial emergency court hearing. Prosecutors dropped sixteen felony counts against Smollett without requiring him to plead guilty to anything. Then, the case was immediately sealed from public view.
Since then, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx and her top assistants have said the “don’t plead guilty to anything” deal they gave to Smollett was “available to all defendants” in similar circumstances. Despite hours of research, CWBChicago has yet to find a single case that supports the prosecutors’ claims.
Maybe you think that the guns change this case sharply against Racky (even though prosecutors dropped those charges completely). That’s understandable. Tomorrow, we’ll tell you about one brand new case that parallels Smollett’s perfectly…and update you on two others that are still winding their way through court–without a “Smollett Deal.”
A Wrigleyville Original
In 1993, Racky told the Broward County, FL, Sun-Sentinel about how he decided to establish rooftop viewing of Cubs game as a business:
My 13-year-old son looked at [a graystone in the 3600 block of North Sheffield] and said, “Dad, why don`t you buy the place and make it a club to watch games? …I thought that was a great idea. I bought the place, and on the first night game in August of `88 there were three members watching the three innings before it was rained out — me and my two sons.”
In 1988, Racky established the Lakeview Baseball Club, Wrigleyville’s first rooftop business, at 3633 North Sheffield Avenue. Under his ownership, the club created the now-famous “Eamus Catuli” sign that counted up the number of years that had passed since the once-terrible Cubs last won various post-season championships.