Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert has been indicted over allegations that payments he made to an unnamed person to "compensate for and conceal his prior misconduct" ran afoul of currency-reporting requirements.
The indictment alleges that Hastert, an Illinois Republican who left Congress in 2007 and became a lobbyist, made $952,000 worth of bank withdrawals in a manner designed to evade banks' currency-transaction reporting requirements.
The indictment also accuses Hastert of lying to the FBI about the purpose of withdrawals over several years totaling more than $1.7 million.
The indictment does not describe the nature of the "misconduct" by Hastert against the person identified only as "Individual A." It says the person has been a resident of Yorkville, Illinois, and that Hastert has known the person for most of "Individual A's" life. Hastert was a high school teacher and athletics coach in Yorkville before he got into politics.
Hastert, 73, could not immediately be reached for comment. The former Illinois lawmaker joined the law and lobbying firm Dickstein Shapiro as a senior adviser in 2008. A spokesman for the firm said Thursday evening that Hastert has now resigned.
He's indicted on one count of "structuring currency transactions to evade Currency Transaction Reports" and one count of making false statements to the FBI, according to a summary of the grand jury indictment from the U.S. attorney's office for the Northern District of Illinois.
Each indictment carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to the U.S. attorney's office. A date for the arraignment has not yet been set.
According to the seven-page indictment, in 2010 Hastert met with "Individual A" several times, and "[d]uring at least one of the meetings, Individual A and defendant discussed past misconduct by defendant against Individual A that had occurred years earlier."
During those meetings and subsequent talks, Hastert agreed to pay the person $3.5 million to compensate for and conceal the alleged misconduct, which is not described at all in the document.
From 2010 to 2014, Hastert withdrew a total of roughly $1.7 million in cash from various bank accounts and provided it to "Individual A," the charges state.
"Beginning in approximately July 2012, Hastert started structuring his cash withdrawals in increments of less than $10,000 to evade the filing of Currency Transaction Reports ('CTRs'), which banks are required to file for cash withdrawals in excess of $10,000," the U.S. attorney's office said.
The FBI and the Internal Revenue Service began probing the transactions in "approximately" 2013, the indictment states. In late 2014, when questioned by the FBI, Hastert falsely claimed he was keeping the money, the charges state.
"Specifically, in response to the agents' question confirming whether the purpose of the withdrawals was to store cash because he did not feel safe with the banking system, as he previously indicated, JOHN DENNIS HASTERT stated: 'Yeah ... I kept the cash. That's what I'm doing,'" the indictment alleges.
The indictment states that between roughly June of 2010 and April of 2012, he made 15 withdrawals of $50,000 from accounts he controlled at three banks and gave the money to "Individual A" every six weeks or so.
He then began making smaller withdrawals after bank representatives questioned him about the larger transactions, according to the indictment.
Hastert was first elected in 1986 to represent a northern Illinois congressional district. He became speaker at the beginning of 1999, following the political downfall of former Speaker Newt Gingrich the prior year. Democrats won control of the House in the 2006 elections, and Hastert resigned from Congress the following year.
Before his election to Congress, Hastert served in the Illinois General Assembly.
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