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Justice was served in Schock case

Thursday, Sep 5, 2019

* I’ve seen a lot of harrumphing since yesterday about the federal charges being dropped against former US Rep. Aaron Schock. “Didn’t he essentially commit the same crimes as former US Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.?” many have asked. Why, then, was J3 sent to prison and Schock allowed to walk free?

The answer boils down to how the two investigations/prosecutions were conducted.

* Jim Dey wrote a pretty good summary back in March of how this case crumbled

Before it was over, the case was assigned to three different judges, and the original prosecution team of Tim Bass and Patrick Hansen was removed from the case by their superiors in Washington, D.C., for prosecutorial misconduct.

In fact, topsiders in D.C. removed all the federal prosecutors from the Central District from the case and replaced them with a new prosecution team from the Northern District in Chicago.

Although the case against Schock collapsed Wednesday, its impending doom was foreshadowed in September. That’s when Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Hayes, chief of the criminal division in the Chicago U.S. Attorney’s office, said a new prosecution team under his supervision would “get to know the case and evaluate it” before making decisions on how to proceed.

It was that promised review of the evidence, two different grand-jury investigations and the indictment that failed to pass muster with the second group of prosecutors.

* This was a hardball prosecution from the beginning. From a Schock legal filing

[The government] Recruited a staffer to be a confidential informant who covertly recorded Mr. Schock, a sitting Member of Congress, in his District Office and elsewhere; covertly recorded staff members represented by counsel; misrepresented himself as represented by the same attorney representing those staff members; attempted at the government’s direction to steal privileged documents; and covertly stole documents and more than 10,000 emails that were the personal property of Mr. Schock as a Member of Congress

All done without a warrant, mind you.

* More from that same filing about the confidential informant and federal tactics

The government’s apparent obsession with Mr. Schock’s sexuality and whether or not he “dated” Karla Gonzalez was fueled from the very first conversation with the government’s confidential informant: “C/S [Confidential Source] did not know for sure Schock’s relationship status, but heard gossip that ‘something was going on’ with Shea Ledford. . . . C/S believed Schock’s ex-girlfriend Karla Gonzalez was not a ‘real girlfriend,’ and was a ‘beard.’” As with so many other things, the government’s CI was wrong. But that did not stop the government from trying to prove him right for the next two years.

Indeed, the government asked twelve additional witnesses questions on these topics. We have detailed below where the grand jury transcripts or government reports of interviews make clear that these topics were discussed with ten of those witnesses. But troublingly, it appears based on our own investigation that government reports for two other witnesses omit information regarding these types of inquiries.

They got into some really detailed questioning of witnesses on this topic. Click here to read it all.

* And then this happened

The Schock case is complicated by the embarrassing admission, following emphatic denials, of possible obstruction of justice. The Acting U.S. Attorney finally admitted on 11 occasions, his attorney told the grand jury Schock “had failed to appear” before the grand jury (a defendant is not required to appear before a grand jury).

* The judge was furious

The federal judge overseeing the criminal case against former Rep. Aaron Schock leveled an unusual public complaint Tuesday that he was misled by a prosecutor on the case.

Judge Colin Bruce, of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois, also ordered the prosecution to conduct a review of all its court filings in the matter for potential inaccuracies.

* The feds got him removed from the case

…Bruce ordered the government to review all court filings in the case to determine whether they contained false or misleading claims. Furthermore, Bruce ordered that acting U.S. attorney Patrick Hansen, as opposed to Bass or anyone else, conduct the review.

It was an unusual step for a federal judge, and it didn’t sit well with Bass or others in the U.S. attorney’s office, according to a motion in an unrelated case filed last week by federal prosecutors. Lisa Hopps, a paralegal in the U.S. attorney’s office, saw Bruce’s order as “an unfounded personal attack” against Bass, according to last week’s filing made in response to a request for a new trial made by Sarah Nixon, who was convicted of international kidnapping in 2016 for taking her child to Canada during a custody dispute with the child’s father. Nixon is asking for a new trial based on improper emails exchanged between Bruce, the judge in her case, and employees in the U.S. attorney’s office.

Upset by Bruce’s criticism of Bass, Hopps told Bass about emails that she’d received from the judge nearly a year earlier during Nixon’s trial, when the judge in emails sent to Hopps critiqued the performance of prosecutors and assessed odds for acquittal. Such emails from judges, who are supposed to refrain from commenting on cases outside courtrooms, are considered improper.

* And then DC stepped in and removed the prosecutors

The increasingly odd corruption case filed against former U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock took another bizarre turn Thursday when local prosecutors were removed from the case by their superiors in Washington, D.C.

A few months later, the feds decided to drop all the charges against Schock in exchange for some reimbursements. It was the right decision.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

24 Comments »
  1. - DeseDemDose - Thursday, Sep 5, 19 @ 12:29 pm:

    Schock should start a new career in Interior Decorating as his talent for Pizazz is outstanding.


  2. - DuPage Saint - Thursday, Sep 5, 19 @ 12:33 pm:

    There should be tremendous sanctions against these attorneys up to disbarment
    Schock should have all his attorney fees and expenses paid. These prosecutors are playing with people’s lives


  3. - anon2 - Thursday, Sep 5, 19 @ 12:40 pm:

    There ought to be more serious sanctions upon prosecutors who abuse their expansive discretion other than removing them from the case. Without serious sanctions, there is little deterrence against prosecutorial abuses.


  4. - Perrid - Thursday, Sep 5, 19 @ 12:46 pm:

    Schock got lucky because the Feds were incompetent or maybe even corrupt. Fine, I just hope he stays gone. I agree there needs to be at least an internal investigation and disciplining for the prosecutors here.


  5. - DougChicago - Thursday, Sep 5, 19 @ 12:46 pm:

    He probably didn’t deserve a criminal conviction.

    But he’s still a little spoiled brat.

    I’m sure he’s thinking political comeback — god knows he knows no other way of making a living — but those Downton Abbey office photos and super neato travel blog entries will forever haunt him. As they should.


  6. - OneMan - Thursday, Sep 5, 19 @ 12:53 pm:

    Wonder if they were looking into the ‘gay’ thing in order to get leverage for a plea deal. That would be my guess.


  7. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Sep 5, 19 @ 12:54 pm:

    ===god knows he knows no other way of making a living===

    The guy was a landlord when he was still a teenager.


  8. - OneMan - Thursday, Sep 5, 19 @ 1:25 pm:

    Judging by the tweets, Patti has some different thoughts about this.


  9. - Klaus VonBulow - Thursday, Sep 5, 19 @ 1:33 pm:

    I don’t understand why a political insider like Tim Bass would be fixated on an upsatart Congressman.

    We as society are starting to take different approach to the creditably of police. The next step will need to be questioning the annuity of prosecutors regarding misconduct.


  10. - RNUG - Thursday, Sep 5, 19 @ 1:35 pm:

    == Judging by the tweets, Patti has some different thoughts about this. ==

    She would.

    She should just be happy the Feds stepped in when they did … any closer to culmination and Tod would have gotten a lot longer sentence.


  11. - RNUG - Thursday, Sep 5, 19 @ 1:37 pm:

    == I’m sure he’s thinking political comeback ==

    Other politicians have come back from deeper holes


  12. - Skeptic - Thursday, Sep 5, 19 @ 1:55 pm:

    “Other politicians have come back from deeper holes” And some have slithered from holes even deeper from the outset.


  13. - Hamilton - Thursday, Sep 5, 19 @ 2:09 pm:

    Schock’s transgressions seem tame now. When this was first going down, I remember being incensed. Now, in the Trump era, his errors of judgement are barely news worthy.


  14. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Thursday, Sep 5, 19 @ 2:32 pm:

    Do they still print the Rules of Professional Conduct in Central Illinois? Sheesh.


  15. - ChicagoR - Thursday, Sep 5, 19 @ 2:33 pm:

    I agree with Perrid. The prosecutors were way over the line, but that doesn’t make Schock’s conduct blameless. His deceptive behavior in office makes me want him to stay gone.


  16. - JS Mill - Thursday, Sep 5, 19 @ 2:43 pm:

    =The guy was a landlord when he was still a teenager.=

    Meh, he made those investments with family money. I’ll give him credit for doing something like that, but he didn’t start from scratch either.


  17. - Shytown - Thursday, Sep 5, 19 @ 3:18 pm:

    Wow. This is disturbing. Feds have a tendency to be way too zealous.


  18. - Anyone Remember - Thursday, Sep 5, 19 @ 3:19 pm:

    Justice was not done. Beyond prosecutorial misconduct, Schock having to work with the IRS to determine back taxes owed for 6 years’ (2010-15) worth of unreported income is proof enough.


  19. - Leatherneck - Thursday, Sep 5, 19 @ 3:23 pm:

    - OneMan - Thursday, Sep 5, 19 @ 1:25 pm:

    Judging by the tweets, Patti has some different thoughts about this.
    ———-

    https://chicago.suntimes.com/politics/2019/9/5/20851548/patti-blagojevich-aaron-schock-sweetheart-deal-outrage-trump-clemency


  20. - Amalia - Thursday, Sep 5, 19 @ 4:28 pm:

    If I were given the requirements he was given, I would feel guilty. He should.


  21. - IrishPirate - Thursday, Sep 5, 19 @ 4:37 pm:

    Personally if I’m ever indicted I hope the feds go after me like they did him AND that they get caught.

    Makes for some generous plea deals.

    Schock was and still is a grifter and he should consider himself lucky that feds went overboard AND that he got caught early BEFORE his grifts escalated into more serious misbehavior.

    Pols needs to learn that playing by the rules is more imperative for them than ordinary folks. You gotta pay your taxes and not have invalid property tax exemptions etc.

    When you have enemies digging into mileage on vehicles you sold complete fiscal honesty is necessary.


  22. - Ron Burgundy - Thursday, Sep 5, 19 @ 4:42 pm:

    Sorry Patti. Big difference between rampant prosecutorial misconduct here and your arguments which basically consist of the sentencing being harsh and “but…Comey!”

    Schock is no angel but he was treated very unfairly here.


  23. - Still South of I-80 - Thursday, Sep 5, 19 @ 6:08 pm:

    Yes he clearly was caught and paid for his crimes, to the tune of over $100,000 if my math is correct.
    The biggest reason he gets a small mark in the “win” column is due to the actions of the prosecution. When news of a few charges being dismissed were reported, it should’ve been the sign that a few or possibly all of the government’s charges were going to be tossed out the window.
    If he goes back into politics, we’ll see how it goes. For now, he likely is quietly back selling or working in real estate somewhere and unless something major happens, I doubt we’ll hear from him or his opinion of politics again.


  24. - Annon3 - Thursday, Sep 5, 19 @ 10:28 pm:

    Given what we know it seems a reasonable disposition. However, the taken down of him was like an old time serial novel where you knew the ending but had no idea how many chapters it was going to take to get there . At the time many people speculated it was Team Rauner if that was true other than the restoration of the Governor’s Mansion it may have been the Team’s biggest success.


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