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Justice Department indicts former Speaker Dennis Hastert

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The Justice Department indicted Former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) on multiple charges Thursday, including lying to the FBI and illegally transferring millions of dollars to a victim of undisclosed past misconduct.

The U.S. District Court of Northern Illinois handed down the indictment, laying out allegations from the DOJ and Internal Revenue Service. 

According to the indictment, Hastert agreed to provide an unnamed individual $3.5 million “in order to compensate for and conceal his prior misconduct” against that individual.

Hastert resigned from his position as a lobbyist at law and lobby firm Dickstein Shapiro following the indictment, according to a firm spokesman. 

“Dennis Hastert has resigned from the firm. Scott Thomas will continue to lead the Public Policy & Political Law Practice,” a firm spokesman said in an email to The Hill. 

{mosads}The misconduct was not detailed in the indictment, which notes the Department of Justice and Internal Revenue Service began investigating Hastert in 2013.

Authorities became suspicious after Hastert withdrew sums of money from various accounts totaling more than $1.7 million in cash in ways that allegedly attempted to get around bank reporting regulations, a practice known as “structuring.” Then, the indictment claims, he lied to the FBI about the reason for the withdrawals. 

Federal agents asked Hastert if he had taken out large amounts of cash on several occasions “because he did not feel safe with the banking system, as he previously indicated,” documents released on Thursday said.
“Yeah . . . I kept the cash,” Hastert told the FBI. “That’s what I’m doing.”
The charges say the former Republican leader, who served in Congress from 1987 to 2007, agreed in 2010 to pay an individual $3.5 million to “compensate for and conceal his prior misconduct” against that person, who is unnamed in the documents and referred to as “Individual A.”
The specific misconduct, which is not detailed in the documents, happened years before the agreement for the payoff. Hastert knew this person, a resident of Yorkville, Ill., for most of his or her life, documents say. 
The indictment alleges that in June of 2010, Hastert began making annual payments to the individual in the amount of $50,000 every six weeks, making 15 withdrawals of that amount from three different banks.
Under federal law, the indictment notes, banks are required to “prepare and file transactions reports to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network … for any transaction or series of transactions involving currency of more than $10,000.”
When bank officials questioned Hastert about his withdrawals in July 2012, he began taking out money in increments of less than $10,000 while making annual, $100,000 payments to the individual at “pre-arranged meeting places and times,” the indictment says.
The withdrawals of less than $10,000 spurred the FBI and IRS to begin investigating in 2013 whether Hastert was trying to “evade” the reporting requirements for bank transactions. The indictment alleges he knowingly violated the requirements with withdrawals on 106 different occasions.
Hastert, 73, served in leadership for more than a decade — including seven years as House speaker from 1999 until his resignation in 2007. 
During the term, he oversaw several GOP scandals, including a corruption investigation into then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (Texas) and the resignation of Rep. Mark Foley (Fla.) following accusations of inappropriate behavior with young staffers.
Prior to his two-decade congressional service, Hastert was a member in the Illinois statehouse and worked as a high school teacher and coach in Yorkville, Ill., from about 1965 to 1981.
A former Hastert staffer, who asked for anonymity, said he was surprised by the indictment and had no idea why their former boss was transferring the money.
Current Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who served with Hastert in the House for 16 years, had no immediate comment, a spokesman said.
Hastert is now a lobbyist at the Dickstein Shapiro. The firm could not immediately be reached for comment.
Scott Wong contributed to this report.

This story was last updated at 8:59 p.m.




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