During a brief hearing in federal court Thursday, federal prosecutors hinted at the possibility of more “victims” in the Dennis Hastert hush-money case.
When he was charged, the former House Speaker was accused of wrongdoing involving only a single person, identified as “Individual A.” In November, Hastert pled guilty to a decades-old hush money scheme involving that person, and unspecified wrongdoing which purportedly happened decades ago in Hastert’s former home town of Yorkville.
“There are victims in this case,” prosecutor Steven Block told Judge Thomas Durkin Thursday. “They deserve closure.”
Asked to explain the statement referring to more than one victim, a source in the U.S. Attorney’s office said Block “did not misspeak,” but declined to elaborate. The government is expected to provide more detail in presentencing reports, which will be filed prior to Hastert’s next appearance in court.
His lawyer said Thursday that the former Speaker was near death the week of November 3rd, when he reportedly suffered a minor stroke, and what was described as severe sepsis.
“He had fallen and could not get up that day,” attorney John Gallo said during Thursday’s hearing. “What happened was, he nearly died.”
That purported episode came less than a week after Hastert pled guilty here in Chicago to the decades-old hush money scheme, and structuring bank withdrawals in an attempt to cover up his payments to the unnamed “Individual A.”
Hastert was due to be sentenced next month. But Gallo told the judge this morning that his client suffered from an affliction so rare it only affects 4 people in a thousand, and that he had declined mentally.
“He underwent two neurological procedures related to his spine,” Gallos said. “He had lost function in the lower half of his body.”
Gallo said while Hastert is able to feed himself, he needs assistance getting into bed, bathing, and getting to the bathroom.
"But for 24-hour care, he would be in a nursing home," Gallo said, noting that his client was discharged from an unspecified rehabilitation facility just two weeks ago.
Gallo said Hastert is able to speak, and that he is able to assist his attorneys in preparing for sentencing. But for the time being, he advised the judge that Hastert’s doctor said he could leave home only to go the hospital, and even then, in a wheelchair.
“He’s not seen any signs of disordered thinking,” Gallo said. “I asked him if he could help us prepare for sentencing, he said yes he’s prepared to do that.”