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Christopher Kelly's Girlfriend Questioned In Probe Into Blago Aide's Death

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CHICAGO — Police investigating the death of ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich's chief fundraiser questioned his girlfriend for more than an hour Monday, saying afterward she had cooperated but refusing to say in detail what was discussed.

Clarissa Flores-Buhelos, 30, a real estate agent and former standout basketball player at Northwestern University, answered questions at the offices of prominent Chicago defense attorney Terence P. Gillespie.

"The witness was cooperating, the investigation is continuing," Country Club Hills chief of police Regina Evans told reporters as she left the law offices. She declined to say any more about what she and police had discussed.

Christopher Kelly, 51, was found slumped in his car Friday night, the day he was supposed to report to prison to start serving time for tax fraud. He died Saturday morning at a Chicago hospital. Drugs were found in the vehicle and authorities have said the case is being treated as a possible suicide.

Kelly had raised millions of dollars for Blagojevich's campaigns and had emerged as a trusted adviser – but became snared in the federal investigation of corruption swirling around the administration of the now-impeached governor.

An admitted high-stakes gambler who dropped large sums at the tables in Las Vegas and with bookies, Kelly was due to go on trial on corruption charges with Blagojevich, the impeached governor's brother and three other men on June 3.

Kelly, a roofing contractor from Chicago's southern suburbs, had already pleaded guilty to $1.3 million in tax fraud and swindling two airlines in connection with $8.5 million in contracts for work on their hangars at O'Hare International Airport. He had been sentenced to three years on the tax charge and had signed a plea agreement under which he was to be sentenced to five years in the O'Hare contracts case. Those were to be served consecutively.

On Friday night, Kelly apparently contacted Flores-Buhelos and asked her to meet him in the suburb of Country Club Hills, the community's mayor said. Mayor Dwight Welch said Flores-Buhelos found him sick in his black Cadillac Escalade and drove him to a nearby hospital.

After the questioning session Monday, Gillespie sent word that Flores-Buhelos had "answered questions fully and truthfully for an hour" but declined to provide any details of what was said.

"She answered every question she was asked," he said. "She cooperated fully, she answered truthfully, the police seemed pleased."

Flores-Buhelos eluded reporters clustered around the front and rear of the building by leaving through a cigar shop on the side.

Gillespie had said earlier Monday that Flores-Buhelos called him Friday night and told him that police wanted to question her. He said he agreed to meet with her and the police in his office on Saturday morning.

But when she called police back to set up the appointment, they said Saturday morning would be inconvenient and suggested meeting on Monday.

Welch told reporters on Sunday that Flores-Buhelos had "lawyered up" and was no longer cooperating with the police – something Gillespie challenged. She was always willing to cooperate, Gillespie said, but merely wanted to be accompanied by her lawyer when questioned.

Gillespie also criticized Welch for holding up Flores-Buhelos' driver's license at a news conference over the weekend and suggesting she was unwilling to cooperate.

"It's outrageous – I've never seen anything like this in 30 years," Gillespie said.

The FBI said Monday that it is not involved in the investigation. "We have no jurisdiction," said Cynthia Yates, a spokeswoman at the FBI's Chicago office. "It's a local matter."

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