In another case of a high-profile defendant being able to buy his way out of felony charges, Aaron Schock has been offered a plea in which the prosecution will drop all the corruption charges against him if he pays the IRS tens of thousands of dollars and repays his campaign committees. Schock came under fire when he spent what seemed like exorbitant amounts of money redecorating his office in the style of Downton Abbey—a show he must really, really like. He was indicted on two dozen counts of fraud and falsification of election commission filings. He faced up to 20 years in prison.
The plea, which was offered by federal prosecutors, allows them to drop the charges against Schock if he repays the IRS within six months, but also allows them to pursue charges if he does not repay the $68,000 that he owes. Schock failed to report earnings on his income taxes and hence became the target of the IRS. Schock was accused of selling world series and super bowl tickets for $42,000 in profit and misreporting mileage that was a part of his campaigning.
Schock accused federal prosecutors of trying to get famous by targeting a sitting representative, which led to an independent review of the facts. He admitted only to making clerical mistakes in the process of reporting his income which is a common defense to charges of tax fraud. The IRS will routinely cut deals to those who have failed to report certain income on their taxes. They will, however, heavily prosecute others who appear to be hiding information from them or otherwise attempting to defraud the government.
In IRS-related cases, the IRS is notorious for giving you just enough rope to hang yourself with. By the time they have begun conducting an audit, they usually know that some income has not been reported. They will then ask you questions, take down your answers, and then present you with the proof they have been sitting on the entire time. At this point, you will have already incriminated yourself by lying during the investigation. Then, they come after you with the full weight of the law behind them.
However, Schock garnered the attention of the IRS when records related to his campaign spending were not transparent. He was accused of improper record keeping and spending related to his campaign. Part of the issue is that political campaigns are exempt from income taxes and the individual who made the contribution can claim it as deductible on their tax returns. In other words, the money is essentially tax-free both coming into the campaign and as part of the campaign coffers. As a trade-off, that money cannot be used to decorate your office like Downton Abbey.
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If you have been charged with a crime in Chicago, contact David Freidberg, Attorney at Law. Give us a call at (312) 560-7100 or contact us online to set up an appointment.
(image courtesy of Michael D. Beckwith)