Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert Indicted by Feds

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Justice Department has charged former House Speaker Dennis Hastert with lying to FBI agents and trying to hide financial transactions intended to keep prior misconduct secret, prosecutors alleged.

The 73-year-old Hastert, a top Republican on Capitol Hill before he left Congress in 2007, agreed five years ago to pay an unidentified person $3.5 million "to compensate for and conceal" prior "misconduct against" that person, according to prosecutors.

Over the next four years, Hastert withdrew about $1.7 million in cash from various bank accounts and provided that money to the unidentified person, according to the Justice Department.

Starting in July 2012, Hastert allegedly structured those cash withdrawals in such a way that it would prevent banks from having to report the transactions. Under federal law, banks are required to report cash transactions over $10,000. Under those structures, Hastert allegedly withdrew $952,000.

When the FBI questioned Hastert in December 2014 about the transactions, he allegedly told the FBI that he was keeping the cash for himself, prosecutors said.

Specifically, a grand jury indicted Hastert with one count of structuring currency transactions to evade currency transaction reports and one count of making a false statement to the FBI.

Hastert, of Plano, Illinois, will be arraigned in the coming days.

The indictment describes the person who allegedly received the payments only as a resident of Yorkville, Illinois, who has known Hastert most of the person's life. The indictment does not indicate the age of the unidentified person, but it describes Hastert's time as a high school teacher and coach in Yorkville from 1965 to 1981 as "material" to the case, in addition to Hastert's time in Washington.

The school district that employed Hastert from 1965 to 1981 as a high school teacher and wrestling coach, noted it "was first made aware of any concerns regarding Mr. Hastert when the federal indictment was released" Thursday. The indictment revealed that Hastert's time at Yorkville was "material" to the allegations against him.

A statement released by Yorkville Community Unit School District #115 added it "has no knowledge of Mr. Hastert's alleged misconduct, nor has any individual contacted the District to report any such misconduct. If requested to do so, the District plans to cooperate fully with the U.S. Attorney's investigation into this matter."

If convicted on both counts, he faces as many as 10 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

The Justice Department insisted that, like all defendants, Hastert is "presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial."

A spokesman for Dickstein Shapiro LLC, the lobbying firm that Hastert joined in 2008 after leaving Congress, confirmed in a brief statement that "Dennis Hastert has resigned from the firm."

ABC News is seeking comment from Hastert.

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