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Former Illinois Attorney General Dies

June 23, 1986

CHICAGO (AP) _ Former Illinois Attorney General William J. Scott, the state’s top legal officer for 12 years before being convicted of tax fraud, died Sunday of an apparent heart attack. He was 59.

Scott was washing his car at his suburban Palos Heights home when he was stricken. He was taken to Palos Heights Community Hospital where he was pronounced dead, said hospital spokeswoman Michelle Grandinetti.

Scott, a Republican, developed a reputation as a crusader against governmental and industrial polluters and as a champion of consumer rights during his political career.

He was first elected state attorney general in 1968. He was re-elected four years later by what, at the time, was the largest plurality of any state candidate - 1.2 million votes.

But the political fortunes of Scott, considered the golden boy of state GOP politics, fell as quickly as they rose. His long winning streak came to a halt when he lost the 1980 Republican primary for the U.S. Senate while on trial for tax fraud.

On March 19, 1980, the day after his defeat at the polls, Scott was convicted of tax evasion for under-reporting his income by $22,153 on his 1972 federal income tax returns. Prosecutors said Scott converted campaign contributions to personal use and did not report them.

Scott began a legal battle to either overturn the conviction or stay out of jail. His lawyers argued that he should not be forced to serve his sentence of one year and one day because he suffered a heart condition.

But after losing his appeal in the U.S. Supreme Court in January 1982, Scott went to prison. He served seven months at the Federal Correctional Institution in Pleasanton, Calif., and was paroled Oct. 8, 1982.

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