It’s almost cliché. If a business owner angers Chicago City Hall, they can expect to be visited by one of the city’s enthusiastic ticket-writing ordinance enforcers. But that doesn’t really happen … Right?
After two men smashed a display case in Joe Perillo’s Gold Coast Exotic Motor Cars showroom and escaped with over $1 million in luxury watches on December 11, the well-known car dealer appeared on local and national TV news programs, demanding that the city and county take immediate steps to curb crime.
“It’s only a fool who keeps doing things the same way and expects different results. If the Mayor and Kim Foxx don’t do anything to get control of this, it’s not going to get better. It’s going to get worse,” Perillo told CBS2.
“If they don’t do anything about this, they’re going to lose a lot of businesses. They lost Macy’s. They’re losing Neiman Marcus. They may lose this store,” he said in another interview.
Perillo got Lightfoot’s attention.
Days after the smash-and-grab, Lightfoot walked in to Perillo’s showroom at 834 North Rush Street, where Rolls-Royce, Lamborghini, and Bentley models are on display. She wasn’t there to buy.
Instead, she met with Perillo and, according to two sources familiar with the conversation, it did not go well. One said that the famously abrasive mayor “got into a fight and walked out.”
The second source confirmed the conversation soured and said Lightfoot called Perillo an “idiot” as she headed for the door.
Efforts to contact Perillo were unsuccessful. Messages to his dealership were not answered.
A mayor’s office spokesperson confirmed that Lightfoot met with Perillo but declined to provide details about the conversation, citing privacy expectations.
“The Mayor routinely meets with victims of crime and reached out to Mr. Perillo which resulted in a meeting. The Mayor offered to work with him to address safety and security matters at any of his dealership locations,” the spokesperson said.
A day or two after Lightfoot walked out, Perillo’s dealership received another visitor from the city: an inspector from the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP). She brought her ticket book.
Lightfoot’s spokesperson said the inspector was following up on an anonymous complaint that the city received on December 15 about a public health violation at the dealership.
“It was unrelated to the mayor’s meeting with Mr. Perillo,” the spokesperson said.
In fact, CWBChicago has learned, the city inspector slapped Perillo’s dealership with four tickets for six violations during her visit shortly after 2 p.m. on December 17. Only one ticket and two of the alleged violations are health-related.
The inspector allegedly saw three employees and one customer not wearing COVID masks inside the dealership. She issued a ticket for two violations: failing to comply with the commissioner of health’s mask order and failing to comply with BACP’s order to comply with the commissioner of health’s mask order.
Perillo received another ticket for “storing, receiving, possessing, selling nineteen bottles of liquor. One whiskey, champagnes, wine, etc” The fourth ticket alleges two violations: failure to display an incidental consumption liquor license and failure to have a required liquor license.
The inspector wrote a fourth ticket for “interfering with or obstructing the commissioner’s designee in the performance of duties.” According to the citation, the inspector announced an inspection at the dealership’s front desk, and the attendant presented her with the business’ licenses. When she asked for the man’s personal identification or the ID of any of the company’s representatives, he walked away, the inspector wrote.
On November 1, city records show, Perillo’s dealership received a ticket for “allowing employees and/or customers in an indoor setting without face masks.” In July 2020, it was cited for disobeying social distancing and masking requirements, according to BACP records.
On a different note, after the smash and grab, but before she met with Perillo, Lightfoot addressed the crime during her own media appearance:
“It’s not acceptable. We’re aggressively going after these folks. I’m confident that we will find them. And fundamentally we’ve got to send a message that if you do this, you’re gonna be held accountable.”
CPD has not announced any arrests or charges in the case.