Ex-House Speaker Hastert Lawyers Talking Possible Plea Deal | NBC Chicago
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Ex-House Speaker Hastert Lawyers Talking Possible Plea Deal

The one-time teacher and wrestling coach has pleaded not guilty to violating banking laws and lying to the FBI

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    Prosecutors and defense attorneys for former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert have told a federal judge they're talking about a possible plea deal in the Republican's hush-money case. (Published Monday, Sept. 28, 2015)

    Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert's attorneys are talking with prosecutors about a possible plea deal in the Republican's hush-money case, both sides told a federal judge Monday.

    The disclosure came during a federal court hearing in Chicago, though details weren't immediately released. Hastert didn't attend the hearing.

    A May indictment alleges that Hastert agreed to pay $3.5 million to someone identified only as "Individual A" to hide past misconduct. The Associated Press and other media, citing anonymous sources, have reported the payments were intended to conceal claims of sexual misconduct decades ago.

    "We are seeing if we can resolve this case generally," Hastert's attorney, John Gallo, told U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Durkin after the judge raised concerns about repeated requests for delays in the case.

    Hastert Pleads Not Guilty

    [CHI] Hastert Pleads Not Guilty
    The former Speaker of the House is charged with evading bank laws and lying to the FBI. NBC Chicago's Mary Ann Ahern reports. (Published Tuesday, June 9, 2015)

    Gallo characterized the talks as "linear and productive." Prosecutor Steven Block also confirmed the discussions, saying: "This is not a situation where both sides are sitting on their hands."

    The judge set an Oct. 15 deadline for updates.

    Hastert lives just west of Chicago, near Yorkville, where he was a teacher and coached high school wrestling until 1981.

    Authorities allege that Hastert structured cash withdrawals in increments of just under $10,000 in an attempt to avoid reporting rules, and when questioned about it by the FBI, said he was taking the money out because he didn't trust banks.

    Yorkville Reacts to Hastert Plea

    [CHI] Yorkville Reacts to Hastert Plea
    Former House Speaker pleaded not guilty Tuesday to federal charges. NBC Chicago's Christian Farr reports. (Published Tuesday, June 9, 2015)

    Hastert has pleaded not guilty to violating banking laws and lying to the FBI. He's free on bond.

    Defendants typically agree to change a plea to guilty in hopes of a more lenient sentence. It also avoids the stress and potential embarrassment of a trial. A deal would mean that "Individual A," whose identity has never been made public, would not have to testify.

    The indictment does not detail the alleged misconduct, and both prosecutors and defense attorneys have taken steps to keep the information confidential. Hastert and his lawyers have not commented on the allegations included in the indictment or the additional information provided to the media.

    Hastert's lead attorney, Thomas C. Green, argued that the allegations in the media of past sexual misconduct — which he blamed on government leaks — had presented a quandary for the defense. He said it could undermine Hastert's right to a fair trial.

    Judge Who Donated to Hastert to Stay on Case

    [CHI] Judge Who Donated to Hastert to Stay on Case
    Federal Election Commission records showed Durkin donated $500 to the "Hastert for Congress" campaign in 2002 and $1,000 in 2004. (Published Thursday, June 11, 2015)

    "The indictment has effectively been amended by leaks from the government," Green said at a July hearing. "(It) is now an 800-pound gorilla in this case."

    Green, a nationally prominent Washington-based attorney, told the judge he was stumped about whether to ignore the sexual misconduct allegations as he prepared for trial.

    It's unclear if claims not in the indictment would have had any relevance at a trial, during which prosecutors would likely have focused narrowly on mundane aspects of U.S. banking law. But they could have been raised in testimony regarding motive.

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