Federal complaint implicates Harvey Mayor Eric Kellogg in strip club shakedown
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Harvey Mayor Eric Kellogg spent years shaking down a strip-club owner for thousands of dollars a month and allowed prostitution to occur in the club in exchange, according to a new federal criminal complaint.
Kellogg, the controversial mayor of the south suburb since 2003, isn’t charged in the complaint.
But six other people were charged with various forms of corruption, including Rommell Kellogg and Derrick Muhammad, the mayor’s brothers, along with Corey Johnson, the mayor’s cousin.
In addition to the corruption charges, Muhammad and Harvey Police Officer Derrick Moore are also charged with obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice.
Former Dixmoor Mayor Donald Luster and Will Wiley are charged with conspiracy to commit federal program bribery.
The complaint — written by an FBI special agent — refers to Eric Kellogg as “Individual A,” who is identified as “Mayor of the City of Harvey.”
The complaint also does not refer to the club by name, but contains details that point to an adult-entertainment business known as Arnie’s Idle Hour. The club no longer exists, and the most recent owners could not be reached for comment.
The FBI visited the Harvey Police Department Wednesday morning, prompting the mayor to release a statement saying, “I have informed the Chief of Police to cooperate fully with the investigators. Given that there is an apparent ongoing investigation, the administration will refrain from making any further comment.”
Mayor Eric Kellogg couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon after a federal judge unsealed the criminal complaints.
Arnie’s was raided by federal and state law enforcement in October 2017, according to the complaint and social-media posts. Authorities were looking for evidence of sex trafficking and tax crimes. And they wound up interviewing a manager.
That manager agreed to cooperate with the investigation and made the allegations against Mayor Eric Kellogg, according to the complaint.
The manager told authorities that Mayor Eric Kellogg, in 2003, demanded monthly payments of $3,000 from the owner of the club.
Specifically, the manager said the mayor wanted $3,000 “in exchange for the city allowing prostitution to continue.” The manager also said the owner agreed to hire Johnson to work security.
For the next five years, the manager said the owner complained about having to make the payments to the mayor. Then, around 2007 or 2008, the manager said the owner complained that Mayor Eric Kellogg wanted to boost the payments to $6,000. The owner initially refused, according to the manager.
That’s when the manager said Harvey police shut the business down.
Though the owner tried to open it later the same week, Harvey police shut it down again. When the pattern continued a third time, a police officer said, “tell your boss to just pay the man,” according to the complaint.
The owner of the business died in 2008, the document states, and it was taken over by one of the owner’s children. Still, the new owner continued the payments, referring to it as “rent” or “pizza money.”
That’s because the money was being delivered to an office in a business across the street from the club — known for its pizza. That restaurant was also run by the club’s owner, who put Johnson in charge of it.
Arnie’s Pizza was across the street from Arnie’s Idle Hour, but it’s now a new business, according to an employee who answered the phone Wednesday.
The feds began monitoring the alleged extortion scheme after the 2017 raid. Not only did they track the money, the manager agreed to make secret audio and video recordings. In one recording, the month of the raid, the manager asked Johnson when Mayor Eric Kellogg was set to leave office.
“Um, sh–, next year, not this coming year, but the following year,” Johnson allegedly said.
The manager replied, “Aw man, he got two f—ing years left?”
Eric Kellogg, who is stepping down as mayor after he completes his term in April, has been embroiled in controversy over strip joints for more than 15 years.
In 2003, after he was first elected mayor on a reform platform, he swore in a deposition that he didn’t get any contributions from a strip joint called Club O.
But the Sun-Times reported the club made two donations totaling $2,400 to his campaign. His campaign chairman returned the money with a letter thanking the owner for the donations and for attending Kellogg’s inaugural ball.
The next year, Harvey paid a $600,000 legal settlement to developers who said their plan to build a competing strip club near Club O was scuttled because the city refused to approve the proper licenses. They accused Mayor Eric Kellogg of protecting Club O’s business.
In 2013, the mayor voted in favor of a liquor license for a business called Club Assets, but shut it down after WGN-TV aired footage of semi-naked women dancing there. Mayor Eric Kellogg said he thought it was going to be a sports bar like Hooters and not a strip joint.