Feds indict ex-House Speaker Hastert for allegedly hiding payments to apparent blackmailer

Federal prosecutors indicted former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert Thursday on charges he allegedly hid payments he made to an apparent blackmailer in order to compensate for and conceal “prior misconduct.”

The 73-year-old Illinois Republican is accused of structuring the withdrawal of $925,000 in cash in order to evade the requirement that banks report cash transactions over $10,000. He is also accused of lying to the FBI about the withdrawals.

Hastert was indicted on two counts, both carrying a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Hastert, who served as speaker of the House for eight years until his retirement in 2007, is alleged to have met with a person only identified as “Individual A” in 2010. The indictment alleges that during one of those meetings, they discussed alleged prior misconduct that had been committed years earlier.

The indictment says that Hastert then agreed to provide $3.5 million “in order to compensate for and conceal his prior misconduct against Individual A.” It does not elaborate on the alleged misconduct or indicate if Individual A is a man or a woman. However, it says the person has known Hastert most of the person’s life. It also says the person has been a resident of Yorkville, Illinois, where Hastert was a high school teacher and wrestling coach from 1965 to 1981.

From 2010 to 2014, Hastert withdrew a total of approximately $1.7 million in cash from various bank accounts and provided it to Individual A, according to the indictment.

Around April 2012, bank officials began questioning Hastert about the large withdrawals, and starting in July of that year, Hastert reduced the amounts he withdrew at a time to less than $10,000 –apparently so the withdrawals would be less conspicuous, according to the indictment.

Investigators questioned Hastert on Dec. 8, 2014 and he lied about why he had been withdrawing so much money at a time. He told investigators he did it because he didn’t trust the banking system, the indictment alleges.

“Yeah … I kept the cash. That’s what I am doing,” it quotes Hastert as saying.

A spokesman for the lobbying and law firm where Hastert worked in Washington, D.C., told The Associated Press late Thursday that Hastert has resigned his post. former House speaker has resigned.

The website for Dickstein Shapiro LLC had Hastert’s biography as a “featured attorney” as late as Thursday afternoon, but Hastert’s contact details appeared to have been removed from the website hours later.

Hastert was a little-known lawmaker from suburban Chicago when chosen to succeed Newt Gingrich as House speaker. Hastert was picked after favored Louisiana Congressman Bob Livingston resigned after admitting to several sexual affairs. He was generally viewed as a congenial lawmaker, and was given the nickname “coach” by his Republican colleagues.

As speaker, Hastert pushed President George W. Bush’s legislative agenda, helping pass a massive tax cut and expanding Medicare prescription drug benefits. He was the longest-serving Republican speaker, losing his position when the GOP lost the House in 2006.

Hastert isn’t the only recent House speaker to face ethics troubles. Former House Speaker Jim Wright, D-Texas, resigned under a cloud of conflict in 1989 after a very short speakership. Wright, who died May 6, was investigated by the House Ethics Committee over speaking fees and purchases of his book, becoming the first speaker to resign due to a scandal.

Hastert’s predecessor, Newt Gingrich, was also also probed by the House Ethics Committee in the mid 1990’s for wrongdoing. He was reprimanded and ordered to pay $300,000 but was never charged. Gingrich stepped down in 1998 but not because of the ethics probe.

The Associated Press and Fox News’ Chad Pergram contributed to this report.

 Latest on Dennis Hastert: Ex-House speaker resigns from firm

May 28, 8:55 PM

A spokesman for the lobbying and law firm where Hastert worked in Washington, D.C., says the former House speaker has resigned.

The website for Dickstein Shapiro LLC had Hastert’s biography as a “featured attorney” as late as Thursday afternoon, but Hastert’s contact details appeared to have been removed from the website hours later.

Firm spokesman Jason Huntsman did not have further details.

Hastert was charged Thursday with withdrawing $952,000 in cash in small amounts to evade the requirement that banks report cash transactions over $10,000. The former U.S. House speaker is also charged with lying to the FBI.

The indictment says Hastert agreed to pay $3.5 million to an unidentified person to hide “prior misconduct” against that person. The indictment does not describe the misconduct Hastert was trying to conceal.

7:35 p.m. (CDT)

A man whose son wrestled for Dennis Hastert in high school says everyone loved him when he was a teacher.

David Corwin of Yorkville said his son, Scott, wrestled for Hastert at Yorkville High School in suburban Chicago, then later became a wrestling coach himself.

Hastert was charged Thursday with withdrawing $952,000 in cash in small amounts to evade the requirement that banks report cash transactions over $10,000. The former U.S. House speaker is also charged with lying to the FBI.

David Corwin told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that “You won’t get anyone to say anything bad about him out here.”

The indictment says Hastert agreed to pay $3.5 million to an unidentified person to hide “prior misconduct” against that person. The indictment does not describe the misconduct Hastert was trying to conceal.

7:15 p.m. (CDT)

Before Dennis Hastert got into politics, he spent 16 years teaching government, history and economics at a suburban Chicago high school.

The former U.S. House speaker also coached football and wrestling at Yorkville High School.

The 73-year-old Illinois Republican was charged Thursday with withdrawing $952,000 in cash in small amounts to evade the requirement that banks report cash transactions over $10,000. He’s also charged with lying to the FBI.

The indictment says Hastert agreed to pay $3.5 million to an unidentified person to hide “prior misconduct” against that person. The indictment does not describe the misconduct Hastert was trying to conceal.

The indictment says the recipient of the hush money has been a resident of Yorkville and has known Hastert most of the person’s life.

7 p.m. (CDT)

An indictment against Dennis Hastert says federal authorities began investigating his bank withdrawals in 2013.

Among the focuses of the FBI investigation was whether Hastert, in the words of the indictment, was “the victim of a criminal extortion related to, among other matters, his prior positions in government.” The court document does not elaborate.

The indictment says Hastert agreed to pay $3.5 million to an unidentified person to hide “prior misconduct” against that person.

The indictment does not describe the misconduct Hastert was trying to conceal.

The 73-year-old Illinois Republican is charged with withdrawing $952,000 in cash in small amounts to evade the requirement that banks report cash transactions over $10,000. He’s also charged with lying to the FBI.

5:50 p.m. (CDT)

A federal indictment against Dennis Hastert does not identify the person it says the former U.S. House speaker agreed to pay to keep quiet about “prior misconduct.”

However, it says the person has known Hastert most of the person’s life. It also says the person has been a resident of Yorkville, Illinois, where Hastert was a high school teacher and coach from 1965 to 1981.

The indictment says Hastert agreed to pay $3.5 million to the unidentified person for misconduct against that person. The indictment does not describe the misconduct Hastert was trying to conceal.

The details were included in an indictment in which the 73-year-old Illinois Republican is charged with withdrawing $952,000 in cash in small amounts to evade the requirement that banks report cash transactions over $10,000. He’s also charged with lying to the FBI.

Federal prosecutors announced the charges Thursday.

5:10 p.m. (CDT)

A federal indictment against former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert says he agreed to pay $3.5 million to hide “prior misconduct” against an unidentified person.

The indictment says Hastert agreed to pay the money to the unidentified person. The indictment does not describe the misconduct Hastert was trying to conceal.

The details were included in an indictment in which the 73-year-old Illinois Republican is charged with withdrawing $952,000 in cash in small amounts to evade the requirement that banks report cash transactions over $10,000. He’s also charged with lying to the FBI.

4:45 p.m. (CDT)

Dennis Hastert was a little-known lawmaker from a suburban Chicago district when he became the speaker of the U.S. House in 1999.

He succeeded conservative firebrand Newt Gingrich. Hastert went on to become the GOP’s longest-serving speaker. He served until 2007.

Federal prosecutors on Thursday announced bank-related charges against Hastert.

Hastert was generally viewed as a congenial lawmaker, typically called “coach” by his GOP colleagues.

He did not immediately return message seeking comment Thursday about the federal indictment against him.

The 73-year-old Illinois Republican is charged with withdrawing $952,000 in cash in small amounts to evade the requirement that banks report cash transactions over $10,000. He’s also charged with lying to the FBI.

4:30 p.m. (CDT)

The Associated Press has left messages seeking comment from former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert about federal bank-related charges against him.

A message left with a person at Hastert’s Washington, D.C., office was not immediately returned Thursday. An email sent to Hastert also was not immediately returned.

A statement from the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago says the 73-year-old Illinois Republican is charged with structuring a withdrawal of $952,000 in cash to evade the requirement that banks report cash transactions over $10,000. He’s also charged with lying to the FBI.

Each of the two counts he faces carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

4:20 p.m. (CDT)

Federal prosecutors have announced bank-related charges against former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

A statement from the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago says the 73-year-old Illinois Republican is accused of structuring the withdrawal of $952,000 in cash in order to evade the requirement that banks report cash transactions over $10,000. He’s also accused of lying to the FBI.

Each count of the indictment carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

From 2010 to 2014, Hastert withdrew a total of approximately $1.7 million in cash from various bank accounts and provided it to a person identified only as Individual A, according to the indictment.

In December last year, “Hastert falsely stated that he was keeping the cash” when questioned by the FBI, the prosecutor’s statement says.

4:15 p.m. (CDT)

Federal prosecutors have announced bank-related charges against former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

A statement from the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago says the 73-year-old Illinois Republican is accused of structuring the withdrawal of $952,000 in cash in order to evade the requirement that banks report cash transactions over $10,000. He’s also accused of lying to the FBI.

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