Dennis Hastert was near death the week of Nov. 3 when his attorney said he 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 a brief hearing Thursday morning. “What happened was, he nearly died.”
That purported episode came less than a week after Hastert pled guilty to a decades-old hush money scheme related to unspecified wrongs done to a male acquaintance in his former hometown of Yorkville.
Hastert was due to be sentenced next month. But Gallo told the judge that his client suffered from an affliction so rare it only affects four 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.”
Judge Thomas Durkin agreed to reset sentencing for April 8, a date government lawyers did not oppose. But prosecutor Steven Block pointedly told the judge that the government wants sentencing to happen.
“There are victims in this case,” Block said. “They deserve closure.”