CHICAGO — Dennis Hastert, the former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, is facing federal charges in an alleged attempt to conceal large bank withdrawals, used to pay an individual for past “misconduct” on the part of the former veteran politician, federal prosecutors announced on Thursday.
The unnamed individual, a resident of Hastert’s hometown of Yorkville, has known Hastert for most of his life. The alleged misconduct happened many years earlier, according to the indictment.
According to the indictment, in 2010, Hastert met with and then agreed to provide an unnamed individual $3.5 million “in order to compensate for and conceal his prior misconduct against” that person, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago.
Hastert was charged with structuring the withdrawal of $952,000 in cash in order to evade the requirement that banks report cash transactions over $10,000, and lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about his withdrawals.
Hastert, 73, was charged with one count each of structuring currency transactions to evade Currency Transaction Reports and making a false statement to the FBI, according to an indictment returned by a federal grand jury.
From 2010 to 2014, Hastert withdrew a total of approximately $1.7 million in cash from various bank accounts and provided it to this person. The circumstances surrounding the payments, such as whether the cash was the equivalent of “hush money” for the misconduct, were not immediately known.
Initially, Hastert made 15 withdrawals in increments of $50,000 and paid the individual every six weeks.
Beginning in approximately July 2012, the banks started raising questions about the amount of the withdrawals, according to the indictment. Hastert then started structuring his cash withdrawals in increments of less than $10,000 to evade the filing of Currency Transaction Reports, which banks are required to file for cash withdrawals in excess of $10,000.
In 2014, Hastert altered the timing of the payments and provided $100,000 to the individual every three months, according to the indictment.
In December of 2014, when questioned by the FBI regarding his structuring of cash withdrawals, Hastert falsely stated that he was keeping the cash, prosecutors say. He told the agents at the time that he didn’t trust the banking system and that he was holding the cash.
Each count of the indictment carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Hastert served in the U.S. House, representing Illinois’ 14th District, from 1987 until 2007, when he resigned.
He was selected House Speaker in 1999 and served that role until 2007
According to the indictment, Hastert has been a lobbyist since 2008 in Washington, D.C.
He was a teacher and wrestling coach in Yorkville from 1965 until 1980, when he was elected to the statehouse.
It wasn’t immediately clear who is representing Hastert in federal court. An initial appearance could happen as soon as next week.