WASHINGTON — Federal prosecutors on Wednesday announced that they would be dropping felony charges against former representative Aaron Schock more than two years after he was indicted for allegedly misusing campaign funds and nearly four years since he resigned from office after questions were raised about his spending habits.
In the deferred prosecution agreement, which was announced in court on Wednesday morning, the US attorney's office agreed to drop the charges against Schock if he reimburses his congressional campaign fund nearly $68,000, pays any related back taxes, and does not violate any laws during the next six months.
Schock admitted, as part of the deal, to receiving mileage reimbursements "that exceeded the number of miles actually driven"; obtaining tickets to events due to his role as a public official and then reselling them "at a profit"; and owing reimbursements for campaign expenses that "were in whole or in part unsupported by adequate records."
Also as a part of the deal, Schock's campaign committee pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of improper record-keeping regarding its expenses and agreed to pay a fine of $26,553.
"We believe this agreement provides a sensible resolution. It’s a just result and provides the necessary public accountability," Joseph Fitzpatrick, a spokesperson for the US attorney's office in Chicago, which was handling the case, said in a statement.
The court approved the agreement on Wednesday and set a status hearing for Sept. 4, the conclusion of the six-month deferral period.
Schock had made a splash on the national stage when he was elected to Congress the same year then-senator Barack Obama was elected president — a young face in the conservative movement that also happened to come with six-pack abs. The Illinois Republican was seen as a rising star in the party in the years that followed, garnering significant media attention in addition to creating his own coverage through use of social media.
In February 2015, however, a Washington Post feature about Schock, which was in part the result of that profile-raising activity, highlighted his "'Downton Abbey'-inspired office" decor — setting off a series of reports from Politico about Schock's spending and subsequent lawyering up.
Since then, however, the case against Schock has been rife with problems. The lead prosecutor in the case was removed after Schock's legal team raised questions about the way the case had been pursued; the judge initially on the case was removed due to communications with the prosecutor's office about another case; and then the entire prosecution team was reassigned.
Schock unsuccessfully asked the Supreme Court to step into the case before a trial, after a judge denied his initial request to dismiss the case against him. Nonetheless, several other similar motions — including one alleging "prejudicial misconduct before the grand jury" by the initial prosecutorial team — remained pending at the district court before a trial could begin in Schock's case.