PEORIA — A hearing next week in Urbana's federal court could determine what path the the prosecution of former Congressman Aaron Schock will take.
U.S. District Judge Colin Bruce will hold a hearing July 6 in his courtroom. The hearing is classified as a review hearing, but it's possible a trial date could be set. Another hearing could be set as well to assess what is going to happen in the matter.
In other recent developments, prosecutor Timothy Bass, whose briefs have often taken a biting and personal tone against Schock's team of attorneys, has left the case. The move could signal a change in thinking by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Springfield.
It's the first real move in the case since a federal appellate court panel refused to throw out charges against the Peoria Republican. In late May, a three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in a relatively short, 10-page ruling that appellate courts don’t have the authority to answer such questions before a trial actually takes place and a verdict is rendered.
At issue was the nature of the charges. The government had based some of the charges on rules within the U.S. House of Representatives, where Schock had served. But defense attorneys countered that violated the separation of powers clause of the U.S. Constitution as there have been court rulings in the past that have prohibited such cases. In this case, however, the appellate court took a wait and see approach.
The 37-year-old Peoria Republican was indicted in November 2016 on charges of wire fraud, mail fraud, making false statements, filing a false tax return, theft of government funds and falsification of Federal Election Commission filings. The charges allege a course of conduct that began when Schock was first elected to Congress in 2008 and continued until October 2015, about six months after he resigned from office.
His attorneys dispute the claims and say the government has tried to throw anything and everything at Schock.