I just felt the need to put all of these apparent "suicides" up here. You be the judge.
September 12, 2009
Christopher Kelly, key figure in Blagojevich corruption probe, is dead
Posted by Jeff Coen, Jeremy Gorner, Kim Janssen at 3:10 p.m.; last updated at 7:49 p.m.
Christopher Kelly, a key figure in the federal corruption probe into former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, is dead.
The Cook County medical examiner’s office today confirmed that Christopher Kelly of Burr Ridge was pronounced dead at Stroger Hospital at 10:46 a.m. The office said hospital officials told them Kelly appeared to have died of salicylate intoxication. According to medical reference guides, salicylates are used in anti-inflammatory and pain relief medications.
Kelly was found in a lumber yard near 173rd Street and Cicero Avenue in Country Club Hills late Friday, said the town's mayor, Dwight Welch. Kelly arrived at Oak Forest Hospital at 11:15 p.m. Friday, said Marcel Bright, a Stroger Hospital spokesman.
At Oak Forest, he was treated and stabilized and doctors determined he needed additional treatment at Stroger, so he was transferred there by private ambulance, Bright said. Kelly arrived at Stroger at 5:15 a.m.
Kely was treated by doctors and pronounced dead at 10:46 a.m., said hospital spokesman Marcel Bright.
Chicago Police are conducting a death investigation along with Country Club Hills police.
Oak Forest Hospital officials alerted authorities of Kelly's whereabouts about 3 a.m., Welch said. Police found vomit in the lumber yard parking lot, Welch said.
"We are treating this as a death investigation--it's a possible homicide or suicide, but it's a high-profile case so we have a homicide level investigation," Welch said.
Illinois State Police crime scene investigators called in by Country Club Hills continued to look for evidence in the empty lumber yard parking lot tonight. The remote spot, opposite insect-filled corn fields near Interstates 57 and 80, was taped off as officers used flashlights to search on hands and knees.
Mayor Welch, who visited the lumber yard today, said detectives were looking for cigarette butts or anything else that might be traced back to potential witnesses or suspects.
Earlier today, two sources with knowledge of the situation told the Tribune they have been notified that Kelly died. Kelly is a former confidant and top fundraiser for Blagojevich, who was accused of using his office to leverage campaign donations and benefits for himself and his family.
Blagojevich, who is out of state on his book tour, released a statement through his publicist offering condolences.
“I am deeply saddened to hear that Chris has died. My heart goes out to his wife, Carmen, his three daughters, Grace, Jacqueline, and Claire and his entire family. They are in our prayers,” the statement read.
Kelly’s attorney, Michael Monico, declined to comment today when reached by a Tribune reporter.Kelly, who was indicted alongside Blagojevich in April, pleaded guilty this week in a separate federal case.
On Tuesday, in a surprise move just a day before his scheduled trial, Kelly, owner of a roofing business, pleaded guilty to two counts of mail fraud as part of a kickback scheme to illegally obtain $8.5 million in work at O'Hare International Airport.
At the time, Kelly, 51, said he was under pressure from federal prosecutors to cooperate in their investigation of Blagojevich, but he refused.
Kelly faced a sentence of almost 5 years in prison on top of the roughly 3 years in prison he got in June for his guilty plea to tax offenses. Kelly was ordered to report to federal authorities for incarceration by Sept. 18.
The Tribune published a profile of Kelly in December 2007 after his first indictment. You can read it by clicking here.