Aaron Schock, former Illinois congressman, indicted on 24 criminal counts

Congressman+Aaron+Schock+speaks+to+the+media+as+he+arrives+at+an+immigration+reform+panel+hosted+by+the+Illinois+Business+Immigration+Coalition+Monday%2C+March+9%2C+2015%2C+at+St.+Ignatius+College+Prep+in+Chicago.+Schock+resigned+Tuesday+amid+controversy+over+his+spending+habits.+%28Nancy+Stone%2FChicago+Tribune%2FTNS%29
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Aaron Schock, former Illinois congressman, indicted on 24 criminal counts

Congressman Aaron Schock speaks to the media as he arrives at an immigration reform panel hosted by the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition Monday, March 9, 2015, at St. Ignatius College Prep in Chicago. Schock resigned Tuesday amid controversy over his spending habits. (Nancy Stone/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

Congressman Aaron Schock speaks to the media as he arrives at an immigration reform panel hosted by the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition Monday, March 9, 2015, at St. Ignatius College Prep in Chicago. Schock resigned Tuesday amid controversy over his spending habits. (Nancy Stone/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

Congressman Aaron Schock speaks to the media as he arrives at an immigration reform panel hosted by the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition Monday, March 9, 2015, at St. Ignatius College Prep in Chicago. Schock resigned Tuesday amid controversy over his spending habits. (Nancy Stone/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

Congressman Aaron Schock speaks to the media as he arrives at an immigration reform panel hosted by the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition Monday, March 9, 2015, at St. Ignatius College Prep in Chicago. Schock resigned Tuesday amid controversy over his spending habits. (Nancy Stone/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

By Katherine Akiba | Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — Former Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock was indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury on 24 criminal counts including theft of government funds, fraud, making false statements and filing false tax returns.

Schock, 35, a Republican from Peoria elected in 2008, resigned from the House last year amid a federal criminal investigation. Several of the counts against him have maximum penalties of 20 years in prison. He is to appear in court in coming days.

Schock quit Congress on March 31, 2015. The same day, he was served with a subpoena outside his Peoria home by three federal agents. The subpoena told him to appear before the grand jury and turn over large number of records from the previous five years. He never testified before the panel.

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The scandal that led to Schock’s downfall began with what might have been a tempest in a teapot: He had his congressional office redecorated with a “Downton Abbey” motif.

An Illinois designer was paid for the work, but one of Schock’s aides tried to cover up the payment. Soon the media began detailing the lawmaker’s far-flung trips, heavy reliance on private aircraft and habit of overbilling the government for auto mileage.

Before the indictment was announced by the U.S. attorney’s office in Springfield, Schock and his defense attorney George Terwilliger on Thursday issued statements condemning the government’s actions.

“I intend to not only prove these allegations false, but in the process, expose this investigation for what it was,” Schock said.

Terwilliger, a defense attorney from Washington, said “criminalizing a handful of administrative mistakes” and issuing the charges two days after an election “has all the appearances of a politically calculated ambush.”

Schock, a fitness buff, was a colorful figure on Capitol Hill and drew attention for displaying his “six-pack” abs on a magazine cover. He used social media heavily, boasting of global travel.

While still in office, he was seen doing the tango and jumping on a glacier in South America.

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