PEORIA — A federal judge in Urbana on Tuesday denied a request to unseal documents in the federal corruption case of former U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock.
In a two-paragraph order, U.S. District Judge Colin Bruce said he agreed with Schock's attorneys as well as federal prosecutors that reporters from the news website Politico did "not have standing to request that documents filed under seal be unsealed." The Journal Star joined with the Politico reporters in requesting documents that were filed in both the earlier grand jury proceedings as well as the criminal case be unsealed.
Grand jury proceedings are normally sealed, but Schock's case was unusual in that the prior judge, Sue Myerscough, partially unsealed some elements of the legal tussle over records while the case still was being considered by a grand jury. The move offered the public a rare insight into the workings of a legal body that is often shrouded in secrecy.
The Politico reporters also had requested that if the records weren't unsealed, that the documents themselves could be identified so people could at least glean some insight from a brief description. Bruce's order didn't address that.
Schock, 35, was indicted in November 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. It's alleged that he stole more than $100,000 from the government and his campaign committees.
The case is set for a July 11 trial in Bruce's Urbana courtroom. The Peoria Republican's attorneys had sought to move the case to Peoria but were denied by Myerscough.
Andy Kravetz is the Journal Star public safety reporter. He can be reached at 686-3283 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/andykravetz.