Former Speaker Dennis Hastert indicted over hush money

Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert has been charged with concealing cash withdrawals of money and lying to the F.B.I. Hastert, a Republican from Illinois, served as the Speaker from 1999 until 2007. The indictment accuses Hastert of paying an unknown individual large sums of money and trying to hide the transactions from authorities. Banks are required to report any withdrawals over $10,000, so Hastert withdrew smaller amounts in an attempt to avoid detection.

The unnamed individual is from Yorkville, Ill., where Hastert worked as a high school teacher and wrestling coach for 16 years. Details are slim about the individual, referred only to as “Individual A” in the indictment.

That person, whose identity was shielded by prosecutors, has known Hastert most of his or her life, growing up in Yorkville, the city next to Hastert’s home town of Plano, in the exurbs west of Chicago. Prosecutors said the actions “occurred years earlier” than the 2010 meeting that sparked the payments.

Hastert and “Individual A” met several times in 2010 where they hashed-out details of the clandestine deal. Hastert was to pay “Individual A” a total of $3.5 million.

In those meetings and in later discussions, Mr. Hastert agreed to provide money to the person “in order to compensate for and conceal his prior misconduct,” the indictment said.

The F.B.I. originally thought Hastert was being extorted, and launched their investigation in 2013. Hastert gave “Individual A” a total of $1.7 million in cash until he was caught.

Hastert resigned from the lobbying firm Dickstein Shapiro LLC, where he worked since he left Congress in 2007. If he is convicted of both charges he could face up to 10 years in prison.

The biggest question remaining is “What did Hastert do to “Individual A” to warrant $3.5 million in hush money?” This story is big news as it stands now, but everyone is waiting for that crucial detail.

 

[New York Times] [Washington Post] [ABC News] [Image via Brian Kersey/Associated Press]

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