(CBS) – Dennis Hastert, the ailing former U.S. House Speaker brought down by a hush-money cover-up that led to federal charges and allegations he sexually abused high school athletes, reported Wednesday to Rochester Federal Medical Center.
The ailing Hastert was seen wheeling himself into the detention facility around noon Chicago time. Inmate No. 47991-424 – as Hastert will be known – begins serving a 15-month sentence.
Prosecutors said the 74-year-old Republican sexually abused at least four boys when he coached wrestling at Yorkville High School decades ago. It was Hastert’s attempts to secretly pay off one of his alleged victims that tripped a wire with the feds, who began investigating him after the once-powerful pol began making large bank withdrawals.
Technically, Hastert was brought down for violating federal banking laws. But the case was overshadowed by Hastert’s crimes against young athletes, years after the statute of limitations had expired. The federal judge who sentenced Hastert in April called him a “serial child molester.”
In addition to the prison sentence, Hastert was fined $250,000, and must serve two years of supervised release — the federal equivalent of parole — and must participate in a sex offender program after his release from custody.
Hastert won’t be the first Illinois pol to spend time at the Minnesota facility. The late Illinois congressman Dan Rostenkowski of Chicago did time there, too. So did former Chicago alderman and Cook County commissioner Bill Beavers.
The disgraced Hastert can expect a range of humiliations and hardships, including strip searches.
“You’re really not you anymore. You’re owned by the Bureau of Prisons, and you do what they say or you face the consequences,” says former federal prisoner Betty Loren-Maltese, the ex-town president of Cicero.