Blago Advisor Dies Before Prison Term

(CBS/AP) A former chief fundraiser for ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich told a police officer before he died that he overdosed on a prescription drug, the mayor of the south Chicago suburb of Country Club Hills said Sunday.

Mayor Dwight Welch did not say what drug Christopher Kelly told police he ingested, but he said authorities found a variety of drugs in Kelly's vehicle. Kelly, 51, died Saturday at John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital in Chicago, and Welch said police are investigating the death as suicide.

The Cook County medical examiner's office performed an autopsy but did not immediately disclose the results.

Welch also said police want to interview Clarissa Flores-Buhelos, 30, who identified herself as Kelly's girlfriend and told police she drove him to Oak Forest Hospital Friday night after finding him slumped over the steering wheel of his Cadillac Escalade at a Country Club Hills lumber yard.

Flores-Buhelos, of Chicago, told investigators Kelly called or text-messaged her to come to the lumber yard, Welch said.

Police also want to talk to a man who came to Oak Forest Hospital looking for Kelly's Escalade.

Kelly arrived at the hospital at 11:15 p.m. local time Friday and was transferred by ambulance six hours later to Stroger hospital for further treatment. He was pronounced dead Saturday at 10:46 a.m.

Kelly, who raised millions of dollars for Blagojevich's campaigns, was days away from having to report to federal prison to begin serving a three-year sentence for tax fraud. He had pleaded guilty to tax fraud charges that included writing off thousands of dollars in gambling debts as business expenses.

Kelly had pleaded not guilty to charges included in a federal indictment alleging Blagojevich sought to sell or trade President Barack Obama's former U.S. Senate seat.

Blagojevich has denied wrongdoing.

Kelly, who admittedly loved to gamble and ran up big debts at Las Vegas casinos and elsewhere, was part of Blagojevich's tight inner circle along with convicted influence peddler Tony Rezko. Rezko is believed to be cooperating with federal prosecutors after being convicted of taking part in a $7 million payoff scheme.

Kelly also pleaded guilty Tuesday to taking part in an $8.5 million fraud against United Airlines and American Airlines for work on their hangars at O'Hare International Airport. A plea agreement with federal prosecutors called for him to serve a five-year prison sentence on top of the three years for tax offenses.

He also faced charges in the sweeping Blagojevich indictment that alleged he plotted with Blagojevich to use the muscle of the governor's office to squeeze payments out of those seeking state business.

Prosecutors hoped Kelly would try to reduce his mounting federal prison time by agreeing to cooperate and tell them what he knew about corruption in state government under Blagojevich.

But he remained grimly silent as his situation got worse.

Kelly's chief defense attorney was not available for comment, according to a woman who answered the telephone at his home. A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office, Randall Samborn, declined to comment.

Blagojevich was in New York when he learned of Kelly's death.

"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 in a statement.

Neither of Kelly's guilty pleas called for any cooperation with the government.

"I rather doubt that it will have any impact on the government's case at all," said Allan A. Ackerman, who recently joined Blagojevich's legal defense team. "It's a tragedy and very sad for his family."

On Tuesday, Kelly admitted he paid $450,000 in kickbacks to an unnamed consultant who allegedly inflated cost estimates for repairs to hangars at O'Hare. Kelly admitted bids on the projects were rigged to make certain his BCI Commercial Roofing Inc. would land the contracts.

In all, the contracts paid Kelly $8.5 million. His profit was $2.5 million, according to the plea agreement. He was to be sentenced to nearly five years in prison.

U.S. District Judge Charles R. Norgle set Nov. 18 for that sentencing but ordered Kelly to start serving time next Friday.

The new sentence would have been on top of those three years, handed to him in June for obstructing the Internal Revenue Service by paying gambling debts with his company's money and illegally structured cash withdrawals to hide how much he was taking from the company.


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