Federal prosecutors in Chicago indicted former Republican leader Dennis Hastert on Thursday afternoon.
A former congressman representing a district in the city’s suburbs, Hastert served as the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1999 through 2007—the longest tenure of any House Speaker in history.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) indicted Hastert on charges of illegally attempting to conceal bank withdrawals to avoid detection by law enforcement officials as well as lying to the FBI. Banks are required to report any withdrawal in excess of $10,000; however, Hastert stands accused of so-called “structuring” nearly $1,000,000 in withdrawals to avoid those reporting requirements.
The indictment asserts that, in 2010, Hastert agreed to pay an unnamed individual $3.5 million to hide his “past misconduct” against them. Over the next two years, Hastert allegedly took out 15 $50,000 withdrawals from his various bank accounts. The activity eventually caught the attention of bank representatives, who questioned Hastert about the funds. Going forward, Hastert began making withdrawals in increments under $10,000 as a way to escape detection.
Between 2010 and 2014, Hastert allegedly withdrew $1.7 million and provided it to the unnamed individual. In 2013, Hastert’s actions attracted the notice of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Internal Revenue Service, which began investigating the 73-year-old former political leader. Later the following year, Hastert was interviewed by the FBI and allegedly lied to agents, insisting he was holding onto the money himself.
The indictment did not specifically identify the individual Hastert was paying off, nor did it reveal precisely what Hastert hoped to cover up. However, the document did note that the individual was a resident of Hastert’s hometown of Yorkville, Ill., and had known Hastert for most of his or her life.
If convicted, Hastert could face up to five years in prison along with a $250,000 penalty for each of the two charges.
The charges against Hastert echo those filed against Tom Delay, who served as the GOP House Majority Leader under Hastert until his own inducement on campaign-finance charges in 2005.
News of the indictment against Hastert sent shockwaves across social media.
You just never know what is actually going on with people. Hastert had such a boy scout rep as former high school wrestling coach etc.
— Ben White (@morningmoneyben) May 28, 2015
Didn't realize that Dennis Hastert worked for FIFA
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) May 28, 2015
— Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) May 28, 2015
Well, this is awkward.
— Hastert Rule (@HastertRule) May 28, 2015
Read the full indictment below:
Photo by Tech. Sgt. Andy Dunaway, U.S. Air Force/Wikimedia Commons (public domain)