The Department of Justice is indicting former Rep. Aaron Schock, his attorney said Thursday. | AP Photo
The Justice Department accused former Rep. Aaron Schock of running his congressional office and campaign committee like a personal money-making operation in a stunning, 24-count criminal indictment Thursday.
Federal prosecutors allege that Schock pocketed tens of thousands of dollars in improper mileage reimbursments, camera equipment, and proceeds from selling tickets to the World Series and Super Bowl. Schock even used a front corporation to make money from an annual constituent “fly-in,” the indictment states.
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Schock (R-Ill.) and his attorney, George Terwilliger of McGuire Woods, say the ex-congressman was guilty of nothing more than sloppy bookkeeping. Terwilliger said the media unfairly targeted Schock, forcing him to resign.
Prosecutors, however, tell a much different story.
Schock claimed – and was paid – for “fraudulent claims for mileage reimbursements” totaling $138,663, a phenomenon first uncovered by POLITICO, according to the indictment. He charged the government and his campaign committees for “approximately 150,000 miles more than the vehicles for which he sought reimbursement were actually driven,” the indictment reads, echoing stories from 2015 in POLITICO.
In perhaps the most stunning charge, the Justice Department said Schock invited his constituents to come to Washington for a “fly in” event, and charged them a fee to cover the cost of the events. But, according to the indictment, Schock secretly asked a friend to open a bank account in Florida under the name “Global Travel International,” where Schock deposited the funds. In June 2011, he paid himself nearly $4,500 in excess fees out of the account, and closed it three years later.
Among the other charges:
• Schock charged a limited liability company he started for $11,000 for “services rendered,” and had the money sent to his residence in Illinois, prosecutors say.
• In August 2013, Schock used American Express points to book a vacation to Europe from Washington Dulles Airport. When his connecting flight from Peoria was delayed, he chartered an airplane for more than $8,000, and charged his campaign account for the cost, according to the indictment.
• In 2014, he went to a Chicago Bears game, and improperly charged the government for a private flight, his pilot’s meals and Uber expenses, and charged his campaign for hotel charges and meals, DOJ alleges.
• Schock used his campaign account to buy tickets to pricey events like the World Series and Super Bowl, then pocketed the profits when he sold the tickets to brokers. In 2014, the indictment says, he purchased four Super Bowl tickets for more than $10,000 with funds from a campaign account, and kept the $1,975 in profits from the sale. The next year, he bought four tickets to the Super Bowl with campaign money and sold them for a nearly $8,000 profit, never reimbursing the campaign account. Prosecutors allege that Schock walked away from that transaction with an $18,000 profit.
• Schock falsified expenses to cover a $1,134-per-month car payment, varying the entries to avoid suspicion, prosecutors say. He paid for camera equipment with his own credit card, then charged the government for “multimedia services,” the indictment says.
• He once paid a chief of staff – with whom he lived – a bonus of $6,000 by laundering the money through his executive assistant, DOJ said. He also owed his chief of staff money for rent.
The indictment lays out one especially bizarre story of alleged misconduct. Schock told a staffer that the FBI and Capitol Police were investigating the person for “inappropriately accessing his friend’s social media account,” prosecutors say. The claim wasn’t true, but the staffer racked up $10,000 in legal bills, which his or her father paid.
Schock later acknowledged that the FBI and police investigation wasn’t occurring, and paid the father with $7,500 of his own money. Schock then instructed his campaign to pay those costs for “PAC legal fees,” according to the indictment.
The charges against Schock include fraud, theft of government funds, false statements and filing false income tax returns. Schock is scheduled to be arraigned on Nov. 21 in Springfield, Illinois.