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Former Speaker of U.S. House of Representatives Dennis Hastert Indicted

Prosecutors say for the past four years the former Republican Speaker of the House has paid $1.7 million dollars in apparent hush money.
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Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives J. Dennis Hastert was indicted on federal charges Thursday for allegedly structuring the withdrawal of over $950,000 in cash in a way to avoid reporting requirements, and then lying to the FBI about it.

Hastert allegedly took out the cash and handed it over to a Yorkville, Illinois, resident "in order to compensate and conceal his prior misconduct" against that person, according to the indictment.

Hastert, 73, of Plano, Illinois, is charged with one count each of structuring currency transactions to evade currency transaction reports and making a false statement to the FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois said.

Hastert, a Republican, served as speaker of the House of Representatives from 1999 to 2007. Hastert resigned from Congress in 2007, and has been working as a lobbyist since 2008, according to the government.

The indictment alleges that Hastert withdrew $1.7 million from 2010 to 2014 and gave it to the unidentified person, referred to in the indictment as "individual A."

The indictment does not specify what the acts were or when they happened, only that they occurred "years earlier." The indictment says "individual A" has known Hastert for most of his or her life, but does not elaborate on the relationship. The indictment says Hastert was a high school teacher and coach in Yorkville from 1965 to 1981.

Hastert is accused of withdrawing $952,000 of that $1.7 million in increments of less than $10,000 so as to avoid regulations that require banks to report withdrawals over that amount.

Hastert agreed in 2010 to pay "individual A" a total of $3.5 million in compensation, according to the indictment.

Hastert at first made larger withdrawals, taking out $50,000 at a time on 15 occasions between June 2010 and April 2012, but scaled back the withdrawals to less than $10,000 at a time after bank officials questioned him about the larger amounts, according to the indictment.

When asked about the withdrawals by the FBI in December, Hastert allegedly told agents, "Yeah ... I kept the cash. That’s what I’m doing," when he was actually giving the money to "individual A" as part of the agreement.

Under the alleged agreement, Hastert handed over $50,000 cash payments to "individual A" every six weeks. In 2014, the former congressman began paying that person $100,000 every three months, according to the indictment.

The FBI began investigating Hastert in 2013, partly because investigators wanted to know if he was the victim of an extortion scheme, court documents said.

Each of the two criminal charges carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. A court date has not yet been set.

Hastert served as a U.S. Representative from 1987 until his resignation on Nov. 26, 2007.

Hastert spent 16 years as a teacher of history, economics and government at Yorkville High School, where he also coached football and wrestling, according to his biography on the Wheaton College website, where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1964.