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William J. Scott of Illinois Dies; Tax Fraud Halted Political Rise

June 25, 1986|From Times Wire Services

CHICAGO — William J. Scott, whose meteoric political career ended with a tax fraud conviction, died Sunday of an apparent heart attack.

The former Illinois attorney general, once the most popular Republican in the state, was 59.

Scott served longer as attorney general than anyone else in Illinois history--from 1968 until 1982, when he left office in disgrace after he was sentenced to a year and a day in prison for filing a falsified tax return. He served seven months.

Prosecutors said Scott converted campaign contributions to personal use and did not report them on his tax return for that year.

He had begun a highly successful political career in 1962 with his election as state treasurer.

But his popularity waned with his indictment and he lost a March 18, 1980, bid for the U.S. Senate. The following day he was convicted of understating his income on his 1972 federal return.

He maintained that the federal grand jury indictment was politically inspired but was finally forced to resign in 1982 after losing an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

While in office Scott earned a reputation for public service by making environmental protection, antitrust enforcement and consumer issues his concerns.

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