Palatine officials have denied a license to a proposed liquor store, saying its location's owner -- previously convicted of selling stolen alcohol -- is trying to skirt village ordinance by gifting the property to his wife.
Although Muhammad Amjad officially would be only the landlord to Quick Liquor, 2387 N. Hicks Road, the council Monday unanimously voted against issuing the liquor license to the proposed tenant, in part because the Oak Brook man would financially benefit.
"Quite frankly, I believe this is an attempt to get around our ordinance," village attorney Patrick Brankin said.
Village code prohibits liquor licenses from being issued to a person convicted of any federal or state law concerning the manufacture, possession or sale of liquor.
In 2011, Amjad pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor theft charge alleging he stole alcoholic beverages for resale purposes. Authorities said he teamed up with a former receiving clerk at Teddy's Liquor on Rand Road and arranged to pay him for alcohol stolen from the store.
The village learned of the conviction and revoked the liquor license issued to Community Food Mart, a convenience store Amjad owned in the same Hicks Road shopping center. It remains open but isn't allowed to sell liquor.
In January, Amjad transferred ownership of the shopping center to his wife, Sadia Amjad, through a quitclaim deed, according to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds.
However, Brankin said Amjad is still on the mortgage and assignment of rent, and that he "is still listed, as far as the bank is concerned, as an owner and deriving a financial interest from this property."
Amjad's attorney, Jerome Pinderski, said Palatine's ordinance only considers legal ownership, and the council's decision should be based on that criteria alone.
"(Sadia Amjad's) husband chose to lawfully make a gift of this property to his wife," Pinderski said. "He had every right to do that and now she is the sole legal owner of the property."
Councilman Scott Lamerand said that in his opinion, "the benefit of the ownership of the property at the end of the day is the true tell of who owns it."
Pinderski said that Vince's restaurant, a tenant located in the same shopping center, shouldn't have a liquor license either if the council denied Quick Liquor's.
Village Manager Reid Ottesen said he considers Vince's license to be grandfathered in because it existed before Amjad's conviction. He also noted that the council could approve a liquor store in that location if a new shopping center owner took over.