AP News Guide to case against former Speaker Dennis Hastert
CHICAGO (AP) — Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert will appear in federal court next week on charges that he evaded banking regulations as part of a plan to pay $3.5 million to a person to keep quiet about past misconduct. A person familiar with the allegations told The Associated Press that the payments were to conceal claims that the Illinois Republican sexually molested someone decades ago.
A look at recent developments in the case:
NO SIGN OF HASTERT OR AN ATTORNEY
Hastert, 73, who is from a far western suburb of Chicago, has not been arrested or appeared in public since the indictment was announced last week. He has not responded to repeated phone calls or emails seeking comment. Defendants who are not considered a threat or a flight risk are often not placed under arrest, though a formal detention hearing is frequently held later.
At the June 9 arraignment, Hastert will formally hear the charges against him and may enter a plea. He’s accused of withdrawing hundreds of thousands of dollars and lying to the FBI about the reason for the withdrawals. If convicted, he would face up to $250,000 in fines and as much as five years in prison on each of the two counts.
A document on file Wednesday at the federal court clerk’s office lists Washington, D.C.,-based attorney Barry Levine as the lawyer who received Hastert’s arraignment notices. But that does not necessarily mean Levine is representing Hastert in the criminal case.
No primary attorney has been listed on Hastert’s court docket, and no lawyers have come forward publicly on the former congressman’s behalf. Usually, an attorney is listed in a new criminal docket within hours or a few days of an indictment. The fact that no lawyer is listed on the docket could mean Hastert is still shopping for the right attorney.
JUDGE WAS ONCE CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTOR
The federal judge handling the case, Thomas M. Durkin, gave $500 to the “Hastert for Congress” campaign in 2002, and $1,000 in 2004, Federal Election Commission records show.
At the time, Durkin was an attorney at the Mayer Brown law firm in Chicago. President Barack Obama appointed him a federal judge in 2012. He is also the brother of Illinois House GOP leader Jim Durkin.
The judge’s office told the AP that he could not comment on any aspect of the case, including whether he might recuse himself.
PAYMENTS AT HEART OF THE CASE
Hastert is accused of evading bank regulations by withdrawing $952,000 in increments of less than $10,000 to skirt reporting rules.
The May 28 indictment says Hastert agreed in 2010 to pay the money to a person identified only as “Individual A” to “compensate for and conceal (Hastert’s) prior misconduct” against that person. The indictment does not specify the misconduct. The seven-page document notes in the first sentence that Hastert was a history teacher and wrestling coach from 1965 to 1981 in suburban Yorkville, west of Chicago, and that those facts are central to the case. The other party “has been a resident of Yorkville and has known Hastert for most of Individual A’s life,” the document says.
The person who said the payments were intended to conceal claims of sexual abuse spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.
HASTERT LEAVES LOBBYING FIRM, BOARDS
Hastert has resigned from Dickstein Shapiro in Washington, which is both a lobbying company and a law firm; Levine, the lawyer on Hastert’s arraignment notices, works at the firm.
Hastert also stepped down from the boards of Chicago-based CME Group and from a Christian college that had named an academic research center after him.
Organizers of a Yorkville wrestling tournament named for Hastert say they will probably rename the event, which is one of the most popular wrestling club tournaments in Illinois.
Wheaton College in suburban Chicago has removed Hastert’s name from what had been called the J. Dennis Hastert Center for Economics, Government and Public Policy.
Associated Press writers Jason Keyser in Chicago and Eric Tucker in Washington contributed to this report.