Prosecutors deny investigators overstepped legal lines by recruiting a confidential informant from former U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock’s staff to help build a corruption case against him, accusing the Republican of seeking “to manufacture claims of governmental misconduct” to escape prosecution.
The former Illinois congressman resigned in March 2015 amid scrutiny over lavish spending, including redecorating his Washington office in the style of the TV series “Downton Abbey.” His attorneys have accused federal agents of violating Schock’s constitutional right against unreasonable search and seizure, including by having the staffer-turned-informant secretly record Schock and other co-workers.
In a sharply worded response filed late Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Springfield, prosecutors said investigators spelled out clearly to the informant what the person legally could and couldn’t do, including prohibiting the person from initiating discussions about legislative matters.
“Schock futilely attempts to manufacture claims of governmental misconduct during the course of the investigation,” the 60-page filing said. It downplayed the importance of documents the informant secured, saying investigators relied primarily on other sources to form the core of the case.
Schock has pleaded not guilty to theft of government funds and other crimes included in the 2016 indictment. His Washington-based attorney, George Terwilliger III, wasn’t immediately available for comment Wednesday.
The informant provided the government with a trove of emails, receipts and other documents, sometimes after rifling through staffers’ desks, a defense filing in March said, asserting that some of the material should be regarded as stolen property.
Schock’s attorneys also accused the FBI of using the informant to sidestep restrictions on what a federal agent can search and seize. Defense lawyers made clear they would follow up soon with a motion to dismiss the case by citing, among other things, alleged prosecutorial misconduct.
Prosecutors also dispute defense claims that the government has withheld vital evidence as Schock’s attorneys prepare for trial, which is scheduled to begin July 10. Prosecutors say that includes wiretap recordings, law enforcement reports and grand jury witness transcripts.
Prosecutors said agents first made contact with the informant in March 2015, just weeks after the investigation started. It said the informant voluntarily offered office documents, then later agreed to wear a wire.
The new court document said the informant was an office manager, but it doesn’t name the person.
The filing includes several excerpts of conversations the informant recorded with Schock. One was of Schock discussing the investigation against him, saying the government’s “gonna have no basis for questions, so it’s gonna turn into some giant fishing expedition.”