White-Collar Crime

Former US House Speaker Dennis Hastert indicted, resigns from Dickstein Shapiro

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Dennis Hastert

Dennis Hastert. Angela Farley / Shutterstock.com

In a stunning development for the Illinois political establishment, a former speaker for the U.S. House of Representatives who had most recently been working at Dickstein Shapiro as a senior policy adviser was federally indicted Thursday by a Chicago grand jury. He resigned from the firm Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

The indictment (PDF) accuses John Dennis Hastert, 73, a Republican living in a town on the outskirts of the Chicago metro area, of structuring $952,000 in bank withdrawals. That followed an agreement to pay $3.5 million in hush money, the indictment says, to an unidentified Individual A “to compensate for and conceal his prior misconduct” against the individual, according to the Chicago Sun-Times (sub. req.) and Reuters. The claimed misconduct occurred years before Hastert allegedly entered into hush-money discussions with the individual in 2010.

The indictment notes that Individual A lived in Yorkville, Illinois, where Hastert worked as a high school teacher and wrestling coach from 1965 to 1981, the Chicago Tribune (reg. req.) reports.

Jeffrey Cramer, a former federal prosecutor, told the Tribune that the indictment indicates that Hastert’s employment at the high school is material to the charges. “The feds don’t put superfluous facts in an indictment. If it’s in there, it’s relevant.”

The structuring counts relate to federal banking rules that require financial institutions to report when a customer makes a cash withdrawal of $10,000 or more. Hastert is also charged with lying to the FBI when asked in late 2014 what he planned to do with the money he withdrew from several bank accounts he controlled, allegedly saying that he planned to keep it for himself because he didn’t trust banks.

Each count of the two-count indictment carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, Reuters reported.

In addition to his work as a lobbyist for Dickstein Shapiro, which he joined in 2008, Hastert also had been serving as a co-leader of the law firm’s public policy and political law practice group.

Hastert is one of the most powerful political figures ever criminally charged in the state.

The news articles don’t include any comment from Hastert, and Reuters says Hastert was not immediately available for comment.

The New York Times (reg. req.) and the Washington Post (reg. req.) also have stories.

Related material:

Forbes: “Bank Deposits, Structuring, and Asset Forfeitures”

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