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Ex-owner of Boston Blackies gets 4 years in prison for check-kiting

Chris Giannis pictured walking out Cook County Jail 2010 was sentenced four years prisThursday. | Sun-Times

Chris Giannis, pictured walking out of Cook County Jail in 2010, was sentenced to four years in prison Thursday. | Sun-Times

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Updated: June 5, 2014 12:35PM

A businessman with ties to former State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias was sentenced to four years in prison Thursday for engaging in a check-kiting scheme in order to keep his family’s struggling Boston Blackies restaurant chain operating.

Chris Giannis, 41, hugged a half-dozen weeping relatives before he was led away by Cook County sheriff’s deputies.

“This is a sad end to the story,” Giannis’ attorney, Terry Gillespie, said outside of Judge James Linn’s courtroom after his client was sentenced for theft.

“He didn’t mean to hurt anybody. He didn’t spend the money on wine, women and song. He was trying to keep the business afloat.”

Chris Giannis pleaded guilty to his role in the crime in April.

Giannis’ father, Nick, who used to own the Boston Blackies chain, was sentenced to 48 months’ probation earlier this year.

And prosecutors dropped charges against another man, 42-year-old Andy Bakopoulos, who was arrested with the father and son in 2010.

Chris and Nick Giannis were involved writing bad checks to keep the ailing restaurant chain afloat and defrauded Charter One and Washington Mutual banks of nearly $2 million, officials said.

Broadway Bank, owned by the Giannoulias family, was one of the institutions the Giannises used to carry out the check-kiting scheme against Charter One and Washington Mutual in early 2009, prosecutors said. Broadway Bank was not a victim in the scheme, officials said.

Boston Blackies, with eight Chicago area locations, filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009.

A different restaurant group has since acquired the Boston Blackies brand, according to published reports.

The Giannises were arrested in the midst of Alexi Giannoulias’ unsuccessful bid for Senate.

At the time, Giannoulias pledged to give to charity all $120,000 that Nick Giannis donated to his campaigns over the years.

State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, who received a $5,000 campaign contribution from Nick Giannis when she ran for state’s attorney, also vowed to donate the money to charity.

Most members of the Giannis family who appeared in court Thursday refused comment. But one relative said, “This is a very painful time.”


Twitter: @rummanahussain

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