Driven from the U.S. House of Representatives after he was alleged to have misused government funds, former Illinois congressman Aaron Schock was indicted Thursday on 24 federal counts of wire fraud, misuse of government funds, filing false tax returns and making false statements to investigators.
Once a rising star in the Republican Party, Schock replaced long-time GOP congressman Ray LaHood in Illinois’ 18th Congressional District at age 27 in 2009.
Schock was forced out of the House of Representatives in March 2015 when it was revealed he had spent exorbitantly to redecorate his office in the likeness of Victorian England. Authorities allege Schock spent in excess of $100,000 on improvements to his office.
It later emerged Schock had charged personal expenses such as private flights, Super Bowl tickets and automobiles to his government-funded office expense account.
Following revelations he had demanded the government reimburse him for mileage on his car and further disclosures of his lavish lifestyle often funded by donors or billed to taxpayers, Schock resigned. It is also alleged he continued to use campaign funds to pay for travel, meals and accommodations after his exit from Congress.
“These charges allege that Mr. Schock deliberately and repeatedly violated federal law, to his personal and financial advantage. 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,” U.S. Attorney Jim Lewisin said in a statement.
Declaring that the indictment is politically motivated and administrative errors should not be criminalized, Schock issued a statement which read:
“As I have said before, we might have made errors among a few of the thousands and thousands of financial transactions we conducted, but they were honest mistakes — no one intended to break any law.”
Since leaving Congress, Schock is believed to be employed by a commercial real estate firm.
[NPR] [Photo courtesy Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images via Politico]