Lawyers for ex-House Speaker Dennis Hastert told a federal judge this morning that he will plead guilty later this month in a case where he’s accused of bank fraud and lying to the FBI. Several media outlets have reported that Hastert is suspected of agreeing to pay a man millions to cover up sexual abuse.
Hastert, now 73, was indicted in May on blackmail and bank fraud charges; the indictment said he’d agreed to pay a person referred to as “Individual A” $3.5 million to cover up “prior misconduct.” The Los Angeles Times was first to report that “misconduct” may have been sexual in nature, dating from when Hastert was a teacher and wrestling coach in Yorkville, Illinois.
And Hastert’s alleged abuse appears to have involved mutiple victims: In June, the sister of a man named Steve Reinboldt said he had disclosed to her that Hastert abused him. Reinboldt died of AIDs in 1995.
“Individual A” was receiving payments from Hastert for the past four and a half years, until the feds caught on. Banks are required to file reports on transactions over $10,000; it’s a way to flag potential tax evasion, money laundering, or other criminal conduct. Hastert is accused of withdrawing less than $10,000 at a time to evade suspicion and then lying to the FBI about what he was doing. He initially pled not guilty to the charges in June.
While Hastert has reportedly reached a deal that will involve him pleading guilty, it’s unclear what charges he’ll plead guilty to or whether he’ll have to serve jail time. He will, however, avoid a trial, or having to discuss the sexual abuse accusations in court.
Hastert entering the federal courthouse in Chicago in June. Photo via AP Images