September 12, 2009
BY MARK J. KONKOL, NATASHA KORECKI AND ART GOLAB Staff Reporters
The man federal prosecutors pressured to cooperate in the corruption probe of ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich died of an apparent aspirin overdose on Saturday, law enforcement sources said.
Christopher Kelly, 51, of Burr Ridge, was pronounced dead at Stroger Hospital at 10:46 a.m. An autopsy is scheduled for today, a Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office spokeswoman said.
Christopher Kelly, a key figure in the federal corruption investigation of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, is dead, sources said.
(Richard A. Chapman/Sun-Times)
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Kelly was Blagojevich’s “go-to guy” who once was the mastermind of the ex-governor’s lucrative campaign fund.
Kelly’s death comes just four days after he pleaded guilty to a scheme involving $8.5 million in fraud at O’Hare Airport. It was the second conviction this year -- he still faced trial along with the ex-governor, in June. Kelly had been indicted three times since 2007 but refused to become a cooperating witness. When he pleaded guilty to the O’Hare scheme Tuesday, Kelly spoke of feeling intense pressure by prosecutors to abandon his loyalty to Blagojevich and cooperate with the feds.
Chicago police are investigating Kelly’s death. A source familiar with the investigation told the Chicago Sun-Times that Kelly, who is married, called a woman identified as his “girlfriend” and told her that he took some pills and was going to kill himself.
The woman picked up Kelly near 170th and Cicero in Country Club Hills, where Kelly reportedly vomited. Police were taking samples of the vomit and searching for evidence, the source said.
The girlfriend then drove Kelly to Oak Forest Hospital, dropped him off and called police to report she did so, the source said.
Oak Forest Hospital does not have a trauma unit and was unable to treat Kelly, who then was rushed to Stroger Hospital in an ambulance.
Blagojevich released a statement through his publicist.
“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,” Blagojevich said.