The Department of Justice announced that former U.S. House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) has been indicted for paying $3.5 million in “hush money” to ensure silence about his “prior misconduct” in a town where he was a high school teacher.
The grand jury indictment states that Hastert, 73, has been charged with one count of evading bank regulations and withdrawing $952,000 in increments of less than $10,000 in separate transactions on at least 106 occasions, and one count of lying to the FBI about the reason behind the transactions.
According to a report from the Associated Press, each count against Hastert “carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.”
The Huffington Post noted that Hastert, who has taken credit for the Patriot Act’s passage in the House of Representatives in 2001, found out the hard way that the law he helped pass has given federal law enforcement the tools to indict him.
The indictment describes the person who received the “hush money” as “Individual A,” and noted that while Hastert was a high school teacher and a coach in Yorkville, Illinois, from 1965 to 1981, Individual A has been a resident of Yorkville, and has known Hastert most of Individual A’s life.
The AP noted that the indictment is very vague, and in addition to not telling what Hastert’s “prior misconduct” was, it also does not tell Hastert’s relationship with “Individual A.”
Jeff Cramer, a former federal prosecutor and head of the Chicago office of the investigation firm Kroll, told the AP that the language of the indictment suggests that the misconduct was related to Hastert’s position as a coach and teacher.
“Notice the teacher and coach language,” Cramer said. “Feds don’t put in language like that unless it’s relevant.”
In the aftermath of 9/11, Hastert was largely in favor of implementing the Patriot Act, which passed in the House of Representatives on Oct. 24, 2001, with a vote of 357 to 66.
In 2011, Hastert took credit for passing the Act in the House, and told Real Clear Politics that passing the Act was not an easy task, because it “wasn’t popular, and there was a lot of fight in the Congress” over it.
The Huffington Post noted that the indictment “suggests that law enforcement officials relied on the Patriot Act’s expansion of bank reporting requirements to snare Hastert,”because it “increased the scope of cash reporting laws to help trace funds used for terrorism.”