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Government

Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert's attorneys in talks

AP: Hastert case nearing plea deal

Dennis Hastert
Dennis Hastert

Attorneys for former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Plano, have been talking with prosecutors about a potential plea deal in Hastert's case, the Associated Press reported on Sept. 28.

The judge set an Oct. 15 deadline for updates. Hastert served for 20 years as the U.S. representative of the 14th Congressional District, according to the AP.

He is also is a Wheaton College alumnus, and the college's public policy center was previously named in his honor. His name was recently removed from Wheaton College's policy building amid charges of evading currency reporting laws and lying to the FBI, as well as allegations of sexual misconduct.

The AP reported the disclosure came during a hearing in federal court in Chicago that Hastert didn't attend. It was regarding the May indictment that alleged the former speaker agreed to pay $3.5 million to an individual to hide past misconduct.

The indictment states that Hastert “agreed to provide Individual A $3.5 million in order to compensate for and conceal his prior misconduct against Individual A.”

AP and other media outlets reported the payments were intended to cover up claims of sexual misconduct that happened years ago.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office charged Hastert with “one count each of structuring currency transactions to evade Currency Transaction Reports and making a false statement to the FBI in an indictment returned by a federal Grand Jury,” according to federal law enforcement officials.

Hastert, who remains free on bond, is specifically accused of dodging the law that requires that cash withdrawals of $10,000 or greater be reported to the federal government via a Currency Transaction Report. According to the federal indictment of Hastert, the law “required domestic financial institutions to prepare and file with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network a Currency Transaction Report (Form 104) for any transaction or series of transactions involving currency of more than $10,000.”

The federal indictment explained that, in 2010, Hastert met with someone identified in the indictment only as “Individual A,” and that the individual, a Yorkville resident, had known Hastert “most of Individual A’s life.” It states that the person met with Hastert “multiple times and that, during one of the meetings, the person ‘discussed past misconduct by (Hastert) against Individual A that had occurred years earlier.’”

Little else is known about the specifics of the government's case against Hastert since Judge Thomas Durkin agreed to a request by the U.S. Attorney’s Office to keep materials secret, with prosecutors citing law enforcement and privacy interests.

“The discovery to be provided by the government in this case includes sensitive information, the unrestricted dissemination of which could adversely affect law enforcement interests and the privacy interests of third parties,” U.S. Attorney Zachary T. Fardon wrote in his request to Durkin in June.

After the case is over, the order also states that “all the materials and copies made thereof shall be disposed of in one of three ways, unless otherwise ordered by the court. The materials may be destroyed, returned to the government, or retained in defense counsel’s case file.”

A 1960 graduate of Oswego High School, Hastert taught and coached wrestling at Yorkville High School from the mid-1960s through 1980 when he was elected to serve in the Illinois General Assembly. He was elected to his first term in Congress in 1986.

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