Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert pleaded guilty to illegal bank transactions in an alleged hush-money scheme that linked back to his days as a high school teacher.
Hastert entered the guilty plea in an Illinois federal court on Wednesday just weeks after prosecutors in the case announced they had reached a deal with the embattled Republican leader. In May, Hastert was charged with improper transactions and lying to federal authorities about his banking transactions, which were said to have been conducted in an effort to hide the alleged sexual abuse of a former student.
According to the indictment, Hastert was set to pay a person known simply as “Individual A” a total of $3.5 million. Hastert is charged with withdrawing the money in amounts under $10,000, in violation of banking law. Little is known about “Individual A” other than the fact that Hastert knew him or her for his or her entire life.
Under his plea, Hastert did not plea guilty to lying to federal authorities but the lone count carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison. According to NBC News, prosecutors recommended 6 months imprisonment for the 73-year-old. At Wednesday’s hearing, Hastert admitted to the judge that he knew what he did was wrong.
The U.S. District Judge on the case, Thomas M. Durkin, scheduled sentencing for Feb. 29. According to Politico, the judge has some ties to the Hastert, who was the longest-serving Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives. Durkin reportedly donated to the Speakers’ congressional campaigns at least twice.
Read the full plea here.
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