LAKEVIEW — A former Schubas Tavern and Lincoln Hall executive received probation after pleading guilty to recording nude images of multiple women with hidden cameras.
Michael Johnston, 38, pleaded guilty Oct. 11 to one count of unauthorized videotaping in three separate cases, Cook County court representatives said. He was sentenced to 24 months of probation and 50 hours of community service, officials said.
Johnston is the co-founder and former co-owner of the prominent Audiotree label and co-owned Schubas Tavern and Lincoln Hall, which he bought in 2015 as part of a partnership. Johnston was fired in November after his former nanny said he set up hidden cameras to take nude videos of her and her friend.
The two women were recent graduates from DePaul University, and one of them was hired in December 2019 as a home manager, personal assistant and nanny for Johnston’s two kids. The other woman is her friend and roommate, who also worked as a nanny for one of Johnston’s close friends.
The women said Johnston and his wife, Kelly Halverson, set up hidden cameras disguised as ordinary household objects to spy on them and take videos while they were bathing or undressed, according to a lawsuit.
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The alleged recording happened in January 2020, when Johnston and Halverson asked the nanny to stay at their home overnight while they were on vacation, according to the lawsuit. The couple told the nanny to stay in the master bedroom and encouraged her to invite her friend over, drink their alcohol and use the suite’s jacuzzi bathtub, according to the lawsuit.
During the nanny’s stay, the couple secretly filmed the two women undressing and bathing using spy cameras set up throughout the master bedroom suite, according to the lawsuit. The nanny didn’t discover the cameras until about a month later, when she was again asked to house sit and encouraged to bring her friend over, according to the lawsuit.
The nanny was about to undress for a bath Feb. 14, 2020, when she discovered a hidden camera, disguised as a picture frame, aimed at the bathtub, according to the lawsuit. She searched the home and discovered multiple hidden cameras, some disguised as ordinary household objects, according to the lawsuit.
The cameras were motion-activated, so they recorded video whenever there was activity within their field of vision, according to the lawsuit.
On one of the days the two women were scheduled to house sit, Johnston was captured positioning the camera, standing in the bathtub and reviewing the camera stream on his cellphone to make sure the bathtub area would be filmed, according to the lawsuit. Halverson encouraged the women to use this bathtub before leaving town, according to the lawsuit.
Johnston was charged with making an unauthorized recording in a bathroom and originally pleaded not guilty, according to NBC5.
Two more women came forward in March, saying Johnston also secretly filmed them while they worked at his house, leading to two more felony charges of unauthorized video taping, according to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.
The first woman, a 36-year-old who was hired in 2016 as a dog- and house-sitter, was nude two of the times she was captured on the hidden camera, according to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.
The second woman, a 30-year-old housekeeper who worked for Johnston 2015-2020, was captured on the hidden camera nine times November 2019 to January 2020, according to the state’s attorney’s office. She was fully clothed and cleaning in the videos.
Johnston’s attorney, Damon Cheronis, did not immediately return a request for comment.
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