Mayor: Kelly admitted overdose to police

September 13, 2009 8:28:05 PM PDT
A former chief fundraiser for ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich told a police officer before he died that he overdosed on a prescription drug, the mayor of the south Chicago suburb of Country Club Hills said Sunday. Christopher Kelly died Saturday. Police say they are investigating his death as a suicide.

Country Club Hills Mayor Dwight Welch says the wallet and an Illinois drivers license belongs to Clarissa Flores-Buhelos, a 30-year-old Chicago woman who identified herself to police as Chris Kelly's girlfriend.

"Her wallet and ID were found in the vehicle along with drugs. I won't go into details bout what those were because that is part of our evidence," Welch said.

Welch says the wallet and an Illinois drivers license belong to Clarissa Flores-Buhelos, a 30-year-old Chicago woman who identified herself to police as Chris Kelly's girlfriend.

Welch also accused the woman of no longer cooperating with the Country Club Hills police investigation into the death of the chief fundraiser for ex-governor Rod Blagojevich.

"There's information here that is not being provided to us in a realistic manner, and we're not buying it," Welch said.

Police say Kelly's girlfriend found him at a lumber yard after they allegedly exchanged text messages. According to authorities, by the time Flores-Buhelos arrived, Kelly was slumped over the wheel of his black Escalade. Investigators say Kelly may have been trying to retrieve items from a storage area, and it's believed that is where he overdosed.

Police say the woman then used Kelly's SUV to drive him to Oak Forest hospital. It was there, after the hospital notified them of the situation around 3 a.m., authorities say Kelly told an officer that he had taken some of the drugs found in his vehicle because they were prescription pain medication for a recent surgery.

Kelly was stabilized eventually and transferred to the trauma unit at Stroger hospital where he died five hours later.

"We don't want to speculate. Again, we got it as an attempted suicide, but we are handling it as a death investigation," Chief Regina Evans of the Country Club Hills Police Department told reporters Sunday.

Sunday, however, the probe was slowed by several questions left unanswered by the woman at the hospital with Kelly or possibly two other people, a friend police say told officers who Kelly was and his federal case and a man who tried to retrieve Kelly's SUV, which police have impounded.

Kelly was one of Rod Blagojevich's closest and most trusted supporters. He ran Blagojevich's fundraising operation during his two campaigns for governor.

Kelly was to surrender to federal authorities Friday, after pleading guilty to kickback scheme at O'Hare airport.

He was also a co-defendant in Blagojevich's corruption trial. Some legal experts say the feds case could be affected by Kelly's death, especially if he was preparing to testify against his friend.

"The government got an indictment before Chris Kelly. They got it independent of him. The bottom line is, although it might be a blow, it might not be a fatal blow to the government's prosecution," said legal expert Richard Kling.

Investigators say they plan to get warrants to search a storage area and get Kelly's medical records. Police also want to talk to Kelly's family about his medical history.

Although an autopsy on Kelly has been performed, authorities say a final determination of his death will wait for the results of toxicology tests.

Outside of the Blagojevich case, Kelly was facing at least eight years in prison after pleading guilty to two separate fraud cases. Last week, Kelly gave no indication he was going plea again.

Blagojevich reacts Sunday

Former governor Blagojevich, who's in New York to promote his new book, said Sunday he was mourning because Kelly was a good man and good friend.

Blagojevich also said pressure by prosecutors to try to get Kelly to testify falsely about him might have led Kelly to commit suicide.

"This is a personal loss. A friend took his life because he refused to lie about me, notwithstanding the pressure he was getting from prosecutors who were willing to reduce his sentence and make life easier for him. It's also a loss because he was going to be a witness who was going to tell the truth, and he was going to be a witness who was going to help me vindicate myself from these false accusations," Rod Blagojevich said. "I'm shocked and I'm stunned. I still can't believe that this is happening in America."

The former governor said Kelly made some mistakes and admitted them, but he added that his friend had big virtues, and a big heart.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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