Former Speaker of the House of Representatives Dennis Hastert was sentenced to prison Wednesday on a federal structuring charge, also known as “smurfing”.
Hastert will serve to 15 months in prison; he was also hit with two years supervised release and a $250,000 fine.
Hastert’s attorney, Tom Green, stated his client “accepts the courts sentence.”
Hastert pleaded guilty in October 2015 to a felony charge of illegally “structuring” financial transactions to evade authorities from hush-money payments made to an individual blackmailing him in exchange for silence in connection with his past as a sexual predator.
The pedophilic incidents occurred while Hastert served as an educator and wrestling coach at a Yorkville, IL, high school in the 1970s.
From the Chicago courtroom in the Everett Dirksen federal building, Judge Thomas Durkin withheld the final sentence, preferring to devote adequate time to upbraid the former Illinois congressman for his past behavior.
Durkin reminded Hastert he was unable to impose a sentence inclusive of his predatory behavior, but rejected appeals from Hastert’s defense attorney for leniency and six-months imprisonment.
“Nothing is more disturbing than having ‘serial child molester’ and ‘Speaker of the House’ in the same sentence,” Judge Durkin stated as he addressed Hastert.
Expressing remorse, Hastert apologized for his behavior by saying, “I want to apologize to the boys I mistreated. They looked (up) at me and I took advantage of them.”
Judge Durkin allowed victims and a victim’s family member to address the former Speaker:
“Don’t be a coward, Mr. Hastert. Tell the truth,” she said. “What you did was not misconduct, it was sexual abuse of a minor,” said Jolene Burdge, sister of a now-deceased victim of Hastert.
Outside the courtroom, federal prosecutors punctuated the case against the disgraced ex-Speaker:
“We followed the case where it led, we brought the charges we could bring, and through that Mr. Hastert’s legacy and legend are gone. In its place are a broken, humiliated man,” stated Zachary Fardon, U.S. Attorney for Northern Illinois, outside the Dirksen building.
Hastert, who spent 20 years in the U.S. House, eight as Speaker, left the Dirksen building without addressing reporters.
[AP] [Photo courtesy Chicago Tribune]