Dennis Hastert, Ex-Speaker of House, Pleads Guilty

28 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Dennis Hastert Pleads Guilty in Hush-Money Case.

Dennis Hastert, former Speaker of the House, pleaded guilty Wednesday morning to lying to the FBI in an investigation of $3.5 million in hush money he allegedly paid to cover up unspecified past misconduct—widely reported to be the sexual abuse of one his students when he worked as a high school teacher.The once-powerful Republican admitted making illegal bank withdrawals for payoffs, which sources say were used to quash allegations of sexual misconduct with a student when he was a high-school teacher and coach decades ago. The change-of-plea hearing was the longtime GOP leader’s first court appearance since his arraignment in June, when he pleaded not guilty in the same courtroom in Chicago.

Hastert pleaded guilty to a criminal charge of structuring currency transactions to evade reporting requirements for which he faces up to six months in prison under an agreement reached between his lawyers and federal prosecutors. A May 28 indictment accused Hastert of handing as much as $100,000 in cash at a time to someone referred to only as “Individual A” to ensure past misconduct by Hastert against the person never became public. Under the plea agreement, Hastert admitted agreeing to pay more than $3 million to an unnamed “Individual A” to hide past misconduct, and took out nearly $1 million from his bank accounts, and tried to hide the withdrawals from regulators.

Prosecutors told the court that Hastert agreed to pay Individual A $3.5 million and illegally structured $952,000 in withdrawals to avoid triggering red flags. Before pleading guilty, Hastert told the judge he’s in good health, “considering I’m 73 years old.” The former speaker said he’s been working as a consultant. Shortly after Hastert was indicted in May, a Montana woman named Jolene Burdge came forward with claims that Hastert had abused her brother, Steve Reinboldt, a Yorkville grad who died in 1995 of AIDS complications. His influence and power will be gone,” said Dick Simpson, a co-author of “Corrupt Illinois: Patronage, Cronyism, and Criminality.” Known as a savvy deal maker in Congress, Hastert and his attorneys negotiated the plea deal in recent weeks, avoiding a trial that could have divulged embarrassing secrets dating back to his days as a high-school wrestling coach.

Hastert hasn’t spoken publicly about the case, but in court Wednesday he gave a short statement, saying he knew about the banking rules, but withdrew money in certain amounts because he didn’t want people to know how he was spending it. After learning withdrawals over $10,000 are flagged, he supposedly began taking out smaller increments, eventually withdrawing $952,000 from 2012 to 2014. Hastert of making multiple cash withdrawals in increments of just under $10,000 in an attempt to prevent bank officials from reporting the transactions. His attorneys have fought to keep additional details of the case from becoming public and accused the government of leaking information earlier this year.

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