Aaron Schock, 35, who once represented central and western Illinois in Congress and who was once considered a rising star in the Republican Party, is accused in a 24 count federal grand jury indictment of defrauding the federal government and his campaign committee.
The charges against Schock:
- 9 counts of Wire Fraud
- 6 counts of Filing False Federal Income Tax Returns
- 5 counts of Falsification of Federal Election Commission Filings
- 2 counts of False Statements
- 1 count of Mail Fraud
- 1 count of Theft of Government Funds
Schock, who resigned in March 2015, held a news conference Thursday in Peoria to dispute the charges even before they were announced.
“I intend to not only fight to prove these allegations false, but in the process, expose this investigation for what it was,” Schock said.
“Neither I nor anyone intentionally did anything wrong.”
Schock was joined by his attorney George Terwilliger, who called the allegations “made-up.”
“Criminalizing a handful of administrative mistakes, a few of the thousands of transactions from Aaron’s six years in office. To charge Mr. Schock two days after a national election, has all the appearances of a politically-calculated ambush,” said Terwilliger.
James Lewis, the U.S Attorney for the Central District of Illinois, is a Democratic appointee who’s retiring at the end of the year. His office issued a news release that said, “Schock allegedly generated income to himself, which resulted in a loss of more than $100,000 to the government, Schock’s campaign committees, and others.”
The release also summarized some of Schock’s alleged wrongdoing:
- From as early as 2008 and continuing to about October 2014, Schock received total mileage payments from the House and his campaign committees of approximately $138,663, for official and campaign-related travel. Assuming all of the miles driven on Schock’s vehicles were official and campaign-related, and no personal miles were driven during this time period, Schock allegedly caused the House and his campaign committees to reimburse him for approximately 150,000 miles more than the vehicles were actually driven.
- In July 2014, Schock caused Schock for Congress to purchase a new 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe for him at a total cost of $73,896. Schock then caused the Tahoe to be titled in his name. To accomplish the purchase, Schock caused SFC to purchase his used 2010 Tahoe from him for $31,621. He then caused SFC to trade in the 2010 Tahoe with a $26,000 used car or trade-in allowance, and wrote a SFC check to the dealership for $73,896, thus causing a loss to SFC. As part of the scheme, and to conceal and cover it up, Schock allegedly caused SFC to file a false report with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) that the entire $73,896 payment was for a transportation expense of SFC rather than the purchase of a vehicle for Schock’s exclusive use. Schock allegedly made no effort to reimburse SFC for his personal use of the 2015 Tahoe.
- Schock allegedly caused the House to fraudulently reimburse him $29,021 for his September 2014 purchase of camera equipment. The equipment was for his use and the use of a congressional and campaign staff member who was also his personal photographer and videographer. In November 2014, Schock allegedly instructed the staff member to create and submit a false invoice for ‘multimedia services’ to Schock’s congressional office. After various changes to the invoice, it was submitted to the House, which authorized payment of $29,021 to the staff member. The funds were deposited in the staff member’s bank account and were later used by the staff member to make direct payments to Schock’s personal credit card account for the camera equipment purchase.
- In late 2013, Schock allegedly accused a former staffer of inappropriately accessing a friend’s social media account and falsely advised the former staffer that the FBI and Capitol Police were investigating the matter. As a result of Schock’s accusation and false representation, the former staffer retained a lawyer and incurred legal fees of more than $10,000, which were paid by the former staffer’s father. Schock later acknowledged that his allegation of a law enforcement investigation of the matter was false and after being confronted by the former staffer’s father, agreed to reimburse the former staffer’s father for $7,500 of the legal fees. In February 2014, Schock allegedly wrote a check for $7,500 payable to the former staffer’s father. In April 2014, Schock had his political director issue a check from Gen Y to him in the amount of $7,500, which was falsely reported to the FEC as payment to a Washington D.C. attorney for legal fees incurred by Gen Y. In addition, Schock allegedly caused Gen Y to pay legal expenses that he personally incurred, and to file additional false reports with the FEC that the payment was for Gen Y’s legal fees.
- In November 2014, Schock hired an Illinois decorator, who in 2010 had decorated Schock’s Peoria apartment and Cannon congressional office, to redecorate and provide furnishings for his Rayburn congressional office at a cost of approximately $40,000, including a $5,000 chandelier. Schock allegedly caused vouchers and claims to be submitted to the House totaling $25,000 to be paid to the decorator. In the submission of the vouchers and claims, Schock allegedly made false representations that the claims were, “for services to assist the member in setting up our district and DC offices” and, “includes using materials from our district and rearranging/designing/structuring the space to best suit the member and staff’s needs.” In addition, Schock caused his three campaign committees to pay a total of approximately $8,263 in additional costs for carpentry, paint, and travel and lodging expenses for the decorator/designer, who provided no product or service to these committees.
Schock’s first court date has not been scheduled.
Thanks to Cass Herrington of Peoria Public Radio for the content from Schock’s news conference.