WASHINGTON — In another twist, the long-running federal criminal case against former Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., has been transferred to prosecutors and a judge in Chicago.
A status hearing will be held before U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kennelly on Friday.
Schock told the Sun-Times on Tuesday, “I plan to be there.”
Schock, once a rising star in Congress, resigned from office on March 17, 2015 under a cloud because of questions raised in the Sun-Times and other news outlets about his government and campaign spending. He represented a central Illinois district and lived in Peoria.
A grand jury in Springfield started an investigation in 2015 and Schock was indicted in November 2016 for allegedly using campaign and public funds improperly for cars, mileage reimbursements, interior decorating, a charter plane flight to a Bears game and sports tickets he resold for profit.
The latest twist stems from the removal of the judge who had been assigned the Schock case, U.S. District Court Judge Colin Bruce, who was based in Urbana.
Bruce was tossed off the case this summer because of emails he exchanged with an employee of the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Central District of Illinois. Bruce, according to the emails made public, made comments to the employee about cases before him in court, though none involved Schock.
On Aug. 23, Judge Diane Wood, the Chief Judge for the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, assigned the case to Kennelly, who sits in Chicago.
Meanwhile, according to a joint status report filed on Monday, the Justice Department reassigned the case to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois, which is based in Chicago.
On May 30, a three-judge federal appeals court panel consisting of Wood, Joel Flaum and Frank Easterbrook rejected Schock’s bid to throw out his indictment.
In a related development, the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday acknowledged that Schock’s legal team filed a petition to the high court to accept an appeal of that Seventh Circuit judgment.
Schock’s trial had been set to begin in January, but with the switch of judges and prosecutors, his trial has been delayed.
Pre-trial motions will be heard in Chicago. The trial itself will be held in Central Illinois, with Kennelly presiding. Schock’s preference is for his trial to take place in Peoria.
“In light of the time that the government believes it will need to conduct a complete analysis of factual and legal issues” and the time needed to see if the Supreme Court takes up the Schock appeal, the next status date will be at the end of January, the court was told on Monday by lawyers for both sides.
Schock’s lead lawyer remains George Terwilliger of McGuireWoods. The prosecutors in the Chicago office overseen by U.S. Attorney John Lausch on the Schock case include Erik Hogstrom and Rick Young.
Schock, 37, lives in Peoria and Los Angeles. He works in commercial real estate development and since leaving Congress has traveled extensively to China and India pitching business projects to potential investors.
(Editor’s note: The story reflects the corrected day of the Supreme Court filing.)