Prosecutors have filed a new misdemeanor case against former Congressman Aaron Schock's campaign alleging that Schock for Congress violated campaign finance limitations by failing to file paperwork that would allow the campaign's contribution records to be verified. It's a stunning change in events for the former Peoria Congressman's case. The one-time rising star of the Illinois Republican Party resigned his Congressional seat in 2015 on accusations of misspending campaign funds on lavish personal expenses. Since the beginning, the case has been laden with problems and it ended up being moved from Urbana to Chicago.
In federal court Wednesday, government prosecutors agreed to defer the case in order for Schock to admit his wrongdoings, reimburse funds related to the case and cooperate with the IRS. In court, Judge Matthew F. Kennelly agreed to defer prosecution on the 22 felony charges Schock faced for six months. The U.S. attorney could also decide to drop all charges in the original case sooner than six months if Schock complies with the conditions imposed by the court. The next hearing in the case is set for September 4.
READ: New misdemeanor charges against Aaron Schock
Wednesday's developments are an embarrassing day for the Justice Department, where Schock is now off the hook for multiple felonies.
After court Wednesday, a visibly emotional Schock said "there's a difference between mistakes and crimes." "Obviously I'm grateful to the northern district today," he continued saying after the case was transferred to Chicago, prosecutors here "came to a just resolution."
"I do feel like I've been wronged in this process by a prosecutor who saw me as a ticket to stardom and was allowed to go unchecked," said Schock. He continued, "the question it begs is how did this go on for so long?"
Schock and his team have cried foul from day one - and before the case was transferred to Chicago, the Assistant U.S. Attorney assigned to the case, Timothy Bass, withdrew from the prosecution team. The downstate Republican's legal team accused Bass of misleading a federal judge and inappropriately inquiring about Schock's sexuality.
Federal prosecutors in Urbana declined an I-Team request for comment.
ABC7 legal analyst Gil Soffer told the I-Team that Schock's legal future is now clear.
"At the end of all of this he'll have a clean record. He'll have no felony record. He'll have no misdemeanor record. He'll have no criminal record at all. There will be no hindrance for him to pursue a political career or any career," said Soffer.
"I'm reminded of Edmund Burke the famous British parliamentarian who said 'he who wrestles with you strengthens you' and so I'm focused on the future not the past," Schock told reporters after court.