Aaron Schock indictment
The office of the U.S. attorney filed a 52-page indictment against the former congressman, Thursday for fraud and subsequent cover up.
Schock, 35, once a rising star among congressional Republicans, is accused of using federal or campaign funds to live a lavish lifestyle that includes trips aboard private planes and helicopter, help from an interior designer and a $5,000 chandelier for his Capitol Hill office.
For Rep Aaron Schock and former Speaker Bohner
James Lewis, the U.S. attorney in Springfield, said Schock defrauded the federal government and his campaign committees. He is also accused of attempting to cover up his actions with false statements, claims and invoices.
Aaron Schock who compared himself to Abraham Lincoln during his March 2015 farewell bid to Congress, asserting he was “proud of the good work” his team delivered to its constituents was accused of ” deliberately and repeatedly violat[ing] federal law, to his personal and financial advantage,” according to Lewis.
“Mr. Schock held public office at the time of the alleged offenses, but public office does not exempt him or anyone else from accountability for alleged intentional misuse of public funds and campaign funds.”
In addition to allegedly dipping into his campaign funds for personal use, Schock, who was elected to Congress in 2008 and quit while under investigation in March 2015, is accused of accepting gifts that would be illegal under House rules.
One of the incidents cited is his conducted when invited to watch a November 2014 Chicago Bears game. Given a handful of free tickets, he invited several guests, including two staff members to sit in a Soldier Field skybox to watch the Bears game.
Under House rules, lawmakers and aides may not accept a gift worth $50 or more, and not $100 or more from a single source during a calendar year.
For the outing to Soldier Field, Schock would have had to pay for travel, meals and lodging, except, he didn’t, at least not with his own dime, according to the indictment.
The fitness buff, was a colorful figure on Capitol Hill and drew attention for displaying his “six-pack” abs on a magazine cover.
He is alleged to have hired a private pilot to fly the group from Peoria to Chicago and back. Schock used his government travel card to pay $1,190 to the pilot and to pay for the pilot’s meals. He used one of his political funds, Schock Victory Committee, to pay about $1,800 in hotel and restaurant expenses for the group, disguised “as if they were legitimate campaign expenses”.
The donor[s] of the free skybox tickets to Schock, how many tickets he was given or who traveled with him is not identified in the indictment.
The indictment further states that Schock “repeatedly used the services of a private airplane and helicopter and private pilot at a much greater cost rather than fly on a commercial airline,” the indictment said. “He then paid for the cost of these trips, including personal trips, with federal funds or campaign funds or not at all.”
The indictment says Schock “engaged in a scheme to defraud the government, his campaign committees, and others for his direct personal benefit and for the benefit of others.” The alleged misconduct occurred from 2008 through October 2015.
Former Rep Schock “allegedly repeatedly submitted and caused false and fraudulent claims, invoices, and vouchers” to the U.S. House for payment as well as to three different campaign committees: Schock for Congress, the Schock Victory Committee and the GOP Generation Y Fund, prosecutors said.
In all, Schock generated income to himself, which resulted in a loss of more than $100,000 to the government, the campaign committees and others, prosecutors said.
Former GOP poster boy Aaron Schock was once seen as one of the bright hopes for the party
The ex-GOP congressman is accused of filing false federal income tax returns for tax years 2010 through 2015. That involved the failure to report additional income he received, the prosecutor said.
One of the allegations against Schock involved having the government and his campaign treasuries reimburse him for about 150,000 miles more than his vehicles were driven.
The indictment lays out several different alleged crimes and accuses him of stealing taxpayer money and using the three campaign accounts as personal piggybanks.
“The main goal of the scheme to defraud and to obtain money and property was for Defendant Schock to enrich himself, and others, at his discretion by embezzling, stealing, misapplying, and converting without authority public funds,” the indictment said.
The disgraced congressman faces nine counts of wire fraud; one count of mail fraud; one count of theft of government funds; two counts of making false statements; five counts of filing false reports with federal election officials and six counts of filing false tax returns.
He is scheduled to be arraigned on Nov. 21 before Federal Judge Sue E. Myerscough in Springfield, IL
Aaron Schock and his attorneys deny all charges, insisting it’s a political witch hunt
Before the indictment was announced by the U.S. attorney’s office, Schock issued a statement condemning the government’s actions.
“I intend to not only prove these allegations false, but in the process, expose this investigation for what it was,” Schock said on Thursday.
His defense attorney George Terwilliger speaking in a similar vein said “criminalizing a handful of administrative mistakes” and issuing the charges two days after an election “has all the appearances of a politically calculated ambush.”