PEORIA — On Thursday, federal prosecutors announced a 52-page, 24-count indictment against former U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock alleging financial misconduct, not filing tax returns and fraud.
The charges allege a course of conduct that began when the Peoria Republican was first elected to Congress in 2008 and continued until October 2015, about six months after he resigned from office. He faces charges of wire fraud, mail fraud, making false statements, filing a false tax return, theft of government funds and falsification of Federal Election Commission filings. All are felonies that could send him to prison for several years. In all, it's alleged that he cost the government and his campaign committees more than $100,000.
Below is a list of the allegations which prosecutors say were part of the scheme by Schock:
* Mileage issues: From his first year in office until October 2014, prosecutors allege Schock received about $138,663 in mileage payments from the House of Representatives or his campaign committees for official or campaign-related travel expenses. The indictment alleges Schock claimed 150,000 more miles than were actually driven. The 2009 purchase of an SUV was allegedly financed by bogus mileage checks. Prosecutors allege Schock told his staffers to submit false vouchers that would average about $1,200 a month, which was about what he was required to pay monthly for the vehicle.
* Vehicle purchases: In July 2014, the Schock for Congress committee purchased a new 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe for $73,896. The vehicle was titled in Schock's name and his old vehicle, a 2010 Tahoe, was bought from Schock by his committee for $31,621. Schock, the indictment alleges, used the old car as a trade-in and then used committee money to buy the new one. The purchase was described as a transportation expense of the committee rather than a vehicle for Schock's exclusive use. Schock allegedly made no effort to reimburse SFC for his personal use of the 2015 Tahoe.
* Camera equipment: Schock allegedly caused the House to fraudulently reimburse him for $29,021 that he spent in September 2014 for camera equipment, which was for his use. Schock's purchase was on his personal credit card and the person who was to use the camera equipment was Schock's personal photographer. In November 2014, he allegedly instructed the photographer to submit a false invoice for "multimedia services" to his congressional office. That invoice was later submitted to the House, which authorized a payment of $29,021. The money went to the photographer's bank account and was later used by him to make payments to Schock’s personal credit card account.
* Car for district chief of staff: In 2014, prosecutors allege Schock used his primary campaign committee, Schock for Congress, to buy a new Ford Fusion for his district chief of staff in Peoria. The $27,533 purchase plus fuel, insurance and car rental expenses were all paid by the campaign committee even though it was "used for few, if any, campaign events."
* November 2014 Chicago Bears trip: Schock took two staffers and a pilot of a private plane to a Bears football game. He also paid for their meals, their Uber driver and their hotel rooms that weekend, totaling $3,293. He then billed the House as well as the Schock Victory Committee the entire amount and was reimbursed. That's improper, the indictment states, because the trip wasn't a campaign event or an official expense of his office. Furthermore, the indictment alleges, Schock filed a false report with the FEC representing the expenses were campaign related.
* Other travel issues: The indictment claims that Schock routinely used private helicopters or planes that cost more than flying on a commercial airline. The cost of his trips, even personal ones, allegedly were paid from official or campaign funds. For example, in August 2013, he was to meet a friend in Washington, D.C., for a personal vacation. He was in Peoria and delays meant he could have missed his flight in Washington. The indictment alleges he hired a private aircraft company for $8,054 to fly him to Washington Dulles International Airport in Washington and then directed a staffer to use his campaign committee's money to cover the costs, "even though the expense was purely personal and for his own convenience."
* Ticket brokering: One of the allegations was that Schock used money from a political action committee he controlled to spend $10,000 for tickets to the 2014 Super Bowl. He then allegedly sold the tickets for a profit of $2,000 and "falsely represented the purchase of the Super Bowl tickets, which Defendant Schock personally sold for a profit as 'JFC (Joint Fundraising Committee) Event tickets.'" The charges allege he did a similar thing in 2015 but repaid the committee after the "media scrutiny" around his office began. The indictment also details how Schock would buy tickets for big events like the World Series, sell the tickets at a profit and then not report the income on his taxes.
* Fly-in payments: Another allegation claims he set up a Florida bank account to deposit money paid by constituents who participated in a 2013 "fly-in," an event where voters and others can come visit a House member in Washington, D.C. The false account, in the name of "Globe Travel International" took in about $4,482 in excess money that went to Schock, prosecutors allege. In 2014, he used a friend's account after the Florida account was shut down, the charges allege.
* Social media legal bills: The indictment also claims Schock billed his Gen Y political action committee to cover $7,500 in legal bills incurred by a former staffer whom he accused, falsely, of illegally accessing his friend's social media account. Schock, the government alleges, caused the PAC to file a false report with the FEC, claiming the $7,500 was for legal fees. He then reimbursed himself, the charges allege.
* Remodeling of apartment and office: In 2010, Schock remodeled his Washington, D.C., office and his apartment in Peoria for $53,455. That included the fee for the designer/decorator from Illinois and $2,200 in stereo equipment that the indictment says was paid for with money from a campaign committee. In 2014, that same designer redid his office in Washington again, this time for $40,000 alone. That also included the purchase of a $5,000 chandelier. He later repaid some of the money used in the 2014 decoration. That came only after media attention began to focus on him shortly after the publication of a feature piece in the Washington Post about the office's decor that the piece described as reminiscent of a room in the BBC series "Downton Abbey."
* Bonuses for staff: Schock alleged improperly paid his staff bonuses that put their yearly salaries above the required threshold. He allegedly did this through fraudulent mileage reimbursements. In one case, he had $6,000 first paid to his executive assistant and then told that person to give the money to his chief of staff as a way to circumvent pay scale limits. Schock allegedly was living with the chief of staff and owed him money for rent.
* Misuse of government travel card: The indictment alleges he misused government money by using the card for personal things such as a haircut in Maryland, a trip to a workout facility in Miami Beach, Fla., and other expenses. It also states that in April 2015, less than a month after he resigned from office, he used some of his money from a campaign committee to pay for expenses while at the American Country Music Awards show in Dallas. In all, the indictment states that he racked up $7,000 in travel expenses "following his resignation from Congress on March 31, 2015."