Schock makes bid for immunity using documents for leverage

SHARE Schock makes bid for immunity using documents for leverage
SHARE Schock makes bid for immunity using documents for leverage

WASHINGTON — Federal court documents unsealed on Monday revealed that former Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., sought an immunity deal with prosecutors in exchange for the production of subpoenaed campaign and congressional records.

Schock did not secure the broad order of immunity he wanted as the newly released court filings show months-long wrangling between Schock’s legal team and the Department of Justice over the production of records.

At issue for Schock: His lawyers argue that he does not have to produce records that may incriminate him.

Schock lawyer George Terwilliger III wrote to Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Bass, based in downstate Springfield: “We have endeavored to work with you the past several weeks to identify the most efficient means for you to obtain the records you seek without infringing upon Mr. Schock’s Fifth Amendment rights.”

Schock’s bid for immunity is just one of several revelations in the filings — which lift some of the veil of secrecy surrounding the grand jury probe of Schock, even with portions redacted.

Schock resigned from Congress on March 31, in the wake of questions raised about the spending of his political and government funds.

The grand jury, sitting in Springfield, has been hearing testimony for months. Schock, as is usual in a criminal probe, declined a request to testify last April.

Filings from Schock’s legal team draw a clearer picture of the scope of the investigation against the former Peoria lawmaker.

Records are being sought from Schock’s campaign funds and all financial records covering all travel, mileage reimbursements, fundraising and personal real estate and business dealings.

The feds are also looking for financial records related to Ravneet Singh, someone Schock did business with, and Singh’s Washington, D.C.-based Election Mall Inc. Singh is facing federal charges of conspiring to use illegal foreign money to finance political campaigns. He was arrested by FBI agents on Jan. 17, 2014.

The court documents were unsealed in the wake of hearings on July 28 and 29 in the Springfield courtroom of U.S. District Court Judge Sue Myerscough on a motion to hold Schock in civil contempt for not producing records requested in three grand jury subpoenas.

In one email exchange in the court record, Terwilliger reacts strongly to the bid by Bass to hold Schock in contempt and force him to appear in court.

“Doing so is unconscionable, given the facts. Anyone can be tough as a prosecutor. It takes courage and intellect to be just,” Terwilliger wrote.

Among the legal issues is the long-held position of the House of Representatives that members own and control the records from their time in office.

“We are pleased that the records released by the court illuminate for the public that Mr. Schock was willing to risk contempt to challenge a legal position by the government that flies in the face of 200 years of practice by the House of Representatives,” Terwilliger said in a statement.

“It was an unprecedented move to attempt to have a former member of Congress held in contempt for asserting constitutional rights attached to the records of his congressional office and in doing so the government asked too much and went too far,” Terwilliger said. “It is important to note the U.S. House of Representatives independently took a position consistent with the position Mr. Schock had previously advanced.”

Among the revelations in the court file:

• Schock apparently has been tailed by federal agents.

According to a newly unsealed court document, federal prosecutors claim a Peoria car dealer allowed Schock to drive a Chevy Tahoe at no cost – even after the dealer purchased it back.

The 2015 Tahoe was bought by the Schock for Congress campaign committee and figures in one of the controversies before the federal grand jury, where jurors are hearing testimony on whether Schock overcharged on mileage.

Though Schock sold the Tahoe back to Green Chevrolet — whose owner is a longtime supporter — on April 6 for $46,000, he was allowed to continue to drive it at no cost, the government document says.

Federal agents observed the Tahoe at the Peoria airport on May 20 with dealer plates on it.

“I talked to the feds and they seem to have all the information. Thanks,” Jeff Green, of Green Chevrolet, told the Chicago Sun-Times after being asked about the Tahoe.

Schock, as a private citizen after March 31, is free to accept a loaner car from anyone.

• Schock was served with a grand jury subpoena on March 31, his last day as a congressman.

• Schock has been fighting with the federal investigators for months over documents. At one point, his lawyers removed records from his office to make copies of electronic data on laptops and workstations.

Schock’s lawyers estimate that if the search is not narrowed, it could cost Schock about $1 million to sift through about 1.9 million documents.

• Schock is paying legal fees for several former staffers through his campaign funds. The court documents suggest some of these staffers have testified or will testify before the grand jury.

The Latest
Jordan Jackson, 22, allegedly circumvented a security checkpoint and then pointed a gun at a group of guards just a day after heightened security measures were put in place.
“The traditional methods haven’t worked in this case,” state Rep. Kelly Cassidy said of the disappearance of Sheena Gibbs.
Manager David Ross said Contreras will get a couple of days off and “see how it feels” after the Cubs catcher left Saturday’s game with the injury. “It’s actually something that’s not too concerning,” Ross said.
He tops Will Zalatoris in a three-hole aggregate playoff at Southern Hills in Tulsa.
“Schwisdom” combined for back-to-back homers for the second consecutive day — eighth-inning blasts that gave the Cubs the lead — and newcomer P.J. Higgins hit a three-run triple as the Cubs beat the Diamondbacks 5-4 to salvage the finale of a four-game series.