WASHINGTON – Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert pleaded guilty Wednesday to structuring money transactions in a way to evade requirements to report where the money was going.
The money, investigators said, went to pay someone he had wronged $3.5 million in hush money.
In addition, Hastert was charged with making false statements to federal investigators.
As part of a plea deal, Hastert pleaded guilty only to the count of hiding money transactions.
Hastert could serve a prison sentence, or possibly walk away with no prison time.
Prosecutors recommended that the judge consider the federal sentencing guidelines, which given Hastert’s crime and lack of previous criminal history, is a sentence ranging from no prison time up to six months.
The sentencing date was set for February 29.
“As part of the sentencing process in this case, as in all cases, we will provide the court with relevant information about the defendant’s background and the charged offenses, and the defendant will have an opportunity to do the same, so that the court can impose an appropriate sentence taking into account all relevant factors in the case,” the U.S. attorney’s office for the Northern District of Illinois said in a statement.
Two sources with knowledge of the federal investigation told CNN in June that Hastert was paying a former student to stay quiet about allegations of sexual abuse from when he was a wrestling coach and teacher in Yorkville, Illinois.
The indictment details payments and a payment plan to an “Individual A” by Hastert. That person has never been officially identified.
Hastert was charged with lying to FBI investigators about his payment plan for “Individual A” and structuring bank transactions under $10,000 to avoid triggering federal reporting requirements.
Hastert initially pleaded not guilty to all charges, but Hastert’s defense team entered negotiations with prosecutors last month.