Federal charges against Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) were dropped on Wednesday and he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge that alleges he filled out paperwork wrong, the Peoria Journal Star was first to report.
Schock, best known for his shirtless appearance on Men’s Health magazine and misspending government funds to deck out his Washington, D.C. office in “Downton Abbey” decor, will now have to pay a $68,000 reimbursement to his campaign committee, pay back taxes and report to a probation officer for six months of supervision.
The congressman resigned from office four years ago and was indicted in 2016 on several federal misconduct charges, including mail and wire fraud, making false statements, filing false tax returns, stealing government and campaign funds for personal benefit and making false filings to the Federal Election Commission.
Schock has tried to curb the public corruption case against him multiple times over the past four years, including filing a legal challenge against the case, which the Supreme Court declined to hear last month.
According to the Peoria Journal Star, the misdemeanor charges place Schock in a “pretrial diversion” program, that is typically reserved for drug offenders, even though he faces no drug charges. If he follows the rules of his probation, the conviction will be wiped from his record. If not, federal prosecutors can charge him again.
Schock has maintained his innocence and has characterized the allegations as a political attack since they first surfaced in 2008. Among many other things, the 2016 indictment alleges that Schock reimbursed himself for thousands of miles he never drove; used government and campaign money to remodel his apartment, his office and take a private plane to a Chicago Bears game; spent congressional money on camera equipment for himself and his personal photographer.
In a statement, Schock told the Washington Post that he feels validated by the decision.
“This case has dragged on for more than four years and I am ready to put this behind me and move forward,” he told the Post in a statement. “I have stated consistently and constantly that mistakes were made in the handling of my campaign and congressional offices, and I have acknowledged responsibility for that. But mistakes are not crimes.”
Schock hasn’t tweeted since October 2016, just before he announced his resignation. On Wednesday, he retweeted the Peoria Journal Star report on the dropped charges.