Blagojevich fundraiser dies of possible drug overdose

A former top fundraiser for ousted Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has died of an apparent drug overdose just days before he was due to start a prison sentence, authorities said on Sunday.

Christopher Kelly, a businessman and chief campaign fundraiser for the former governor, died at a local hospital on Saturday and police are investigating his death as a possible suicide or homicide, Dwight Welch, the mayor of suburban Country Club Hills, Illinois, told Reuters.

Kelly, 51, was indicted along with Blagojevich in April on federal racketeering and extortion charges.

Welch said Kelly admitted to police shortly before he died that he had taken drugs. Welch declined to say what type of drugs may have been involved.

Kelly was apparently driven to an area hospital by a girlfriend, who had found him in his sport-utility vehicle parked in a lumber yard’s parking lot, Welch said.

“There were a number of drugs found in the vehicle. We don’t know what killed him,” Welch said.

Kelly was due to report to federal prison this week to begin serving a three-year sentence after pleading guilty to tax fraud charges in a separate case, according to published reports. He also faced a five-year sentence after pleading guilty last week to another fraud charge. An autopsy was planned for Sunday.

Blagojevich is scheduled to go to trial in June.


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