The federal prosecution of a former United States congressman from Illinois could take months to complete. This is particularly true where the charges involve 24 counts of the misuse of government and campaign money for personal use. The prosecution involves former Congressman Aaron Schock, who faces trial on various serious felonies, including wire fraud, theft of government funds, and filing false tax returns.
Recently, his attorneys filed for a delay in the criminal trial that was scheduled to start on Feb.7. The defense claimed that there are voluminous documents that must be studied and used as evidence in the case. The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of Illinois responded that it did not object to a continuance, and a trial date was set for July 11.
The former representative is accused of living a lavish lifestyle financed by campaign and government money. The defendant claims innocence but admits to having made honest mistakes. The prosecution alleges that he used his campaign funds like a personal piggy bank and used a government credit card to finance transporting his staff members to Chicago for a Bears game.
That trip included $1,200 for a pilot and flight, and $1,800 in hotel and restaurant bills. These were paid for by the government and by his campaign funds, say prosecutors. There are numerous other charges involving sports tickets, air flights, using private airlines and helicopters instead of regular commercial flights. There is an extensive list of trips and other expenses that the defendant allegedly financed using campaign money, in violation of federal laws, says the indictment.
The trial on this long list of felonies, involving dozens of different expenditures, occurring both inside and outside of Illinois, could indeed take several months. Charges of this kind of wrongdoing are specifically proved by detailed testimony and the presentation of voluminous documentation. Defense attorneys, who will try to distinguish a fine line between private and public activities, along with the lack of criminal intent, estimate that there are as many as 100 witnesses.