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By Pete Williams and Phil Rogers

The federal judge in charge of the criminal case against former House Speaker Dennis Hastert agreed Thursday to delay sentencing until April 8.

Hastert's lawyers asked for the delay last week, saying they've been unable to prepare for the hearing because he was hospitalized for two months after suffering a stroke and spinal and blood infections.

Sentencing had been set for February 29. Prosecutors did not object, but they said the delays should not become indefinite because "there are victims in this case" who deserve closure.

In court Thursday, Hastert's lawyer, John Gallo, said that back in early November his client, "nearly died" due to severe sepsis or blood infection. “He had fallen and could not get up,” Gallo said during a brief hearing Thursday morning.

"He suffered a small stroke," Gallo said. "He had lost function in the lower half of his body," and suffered from heart strain and delirium.

Under current court orders, Hastert can leave home only to see a doctor. And to do so, Gallo said, he must use a wheelchair. Hastert's speech, however, has not been affected, Gallo said.

Gallo said while Hastert is able to feed himself, he needs assistance getting into bed, bathing, and getting to the bathroom. "But for 24 hour care, he would be in a nursing home."

Hastert pleaded guilty in October to violating federal banking laws. Investigators have said he was trying to conceal hush money payments to a former student he abused decades ago as a high school wrestling coach.