The now-removed owner of two popular North Side bars has pleaded guilty to illegally video-recording women in his Roscoe Village home. Michael Johnston was sentenced to two years of probation and 50 hours of community service by Judge Lawrence Flood.
Johnston, 39, was removed from his role as president and CEO of Schubas, Lincoln Hall, and the venues’ parent organization, Audiotree, after the first set of charges were filed in November 2021.
Two women who had recently graduated from DePaul University sued Johnston and his wife over the hidden camera allegations in October 2020. But prosecutors did not file criminal charges until last year, and then only against Michael Johnston.
Prosecutors alleged that Johnston placed a picture frame embedded with a hidden camera in his master bath and recorded a woman who was housesitting in February 2020. The woman became suspicious of the frame because it housed a stock photo.
After discovering the camera, she called the second alleged victim who went to Johnston’s home and helped search for other devices. The women allegedly found camera-equipped phone docking stations in the master bath and the guest room where the first woman planned to sleep.
The women reviewed the contents of the devices’ memory cards and found video files, including footage of them discovering the cameras and footage of Johnston setting up and aiming the cameras, prosecutors alleged.
Prosecutors filed two more counts against Johnston in March after other women — a former housekeeper and a woman who worked as a dog- and housesitter for Johnston — stepped forward with additional allegations.
Johnston has no previous criminal background.
The October 2020 civil suit is still active.