Eight years after he first was elected to Congress, ex-Rep. Aaron Schock begins a new, challenging stage of life when he stands before a federal judge as a criminal defendant on Monday.
The opening chapters in the case of the United States of America v. Aaron J. Schock will unfold before Judge Sue E. Myerscough in Springfield. Schock, a once-promising lawmaker from Peoria, is to make his initial court appearance and be arraigned at 3:30 p.m.
The 35-year-old Republican was indicted by a grand jury Nov. 10 on 24 felony counts. The federal indictment portrays Schock as using campaign and taxpayer money to bankroll a lavish lifestyle.
Prosecutors accused him of repeatedly pilfering campaign accounts and his House office budget for personal expenses including travel, a flight aboard a private plane to watch the Chicago Bears and even rent payments.
The charges include wire fraud, mail fraud, theft of government funds, making false statements, filing false reports with federal election officials and filing false tax returns.
Usually, defendants waive their right to have the indictment read aloud in court — and Schock’s indictment runs 52 pages. Schock will be asked to enter a plea on Monday. Based on his oft-stated insistence that he is innocent, a “not guilty” plea is a good bet.
Myerscough is a former Illinois appellate judge who considered running as a Democrat for the seat in Congress that Schock eventually won in 2008. President Barack Obama nominated her to the federal bench in 2010.
The judge must consider the terms of Schock’s pretrial release. Federal law allows judges to set various conditions if a defendant is released before trial. The restrictions may relate to personal associations, place of abode or travel.
Whether the judge clips Schock’s wings is an open question.
In a filing last week, prosecutors said that Schock, who quit Congress in March 2015, afterward traveled to Jamaica, Peru, China, Hong Kong, Mexico, Canada and across the U.S. His defense team has said he works in real estate development with a firm involved in “large hospitality projects.”
In setting conditions of release, judges also may forbid defendants from possessing firearms and from excessive use of alcohol or any use of narcotic drugs or controlled substances.
Prosecutors said his trial could last four to six weeks with testimony from about 100 government witnesses. (Katherine Skiba)
What’s on tap
*Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s public schedule was not available.
*Gov. Bruce Rauner will appear at a downtown lunch to discuss expanding opportunities in minority neighborhoods. He’ll also host a Hanukkah event at the Thompson Center.
*Candidates for local offices in the April 4 election can start filing in Cook County and elsewhere. Filing for the February local primary election has already happened, and the race for mayor in Chicago isn’t for two more years.
*The City Council’s Finance and Zoning committees both are set to meet at 10 a.m.
*The Sunday Spin: On this week’s show, Chicago Tribune political writer Rick Pearson’s guests were incoming WTTW-Ch. 11 correspondent Amanda Vinicky; Democratic state Treasurer Michael Frerichs; and author/educator Michael Golden. Listen to the full show here.
Follow the money
*State Rep. Ann Williams, a Chicago Democrat, reported $11,000 in contributions, including $5,000 from the Illinois Education Association’s political arm.
*Track Illinois campaign contributions in real time here and here.