Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert made regular bank withdrawals below a limit that would require reporting and then lied to federal officials when asked about those withdrawals, according to a federal indictment handed down Thursday.
The Department of Justice and IRS allege Hastert, 73, withdrew $1.7 million from various banks between 2010 to 2014 and provided the funds to an unnamed person "to compensate for and conceal his prior misconduct."
The indictment indicates the Illinois Republican promised "Individual A," a resident of Yorkville, Illinois, a total of $3.5 million for "prior misconduct" against that person. The indictment does not describe the misconduct Hastert was trying to conceal.
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Hastert's withdrawals over the four years were in increments less than $10,000 each in an effort to evade the filing of "Currency Transaction Reports" required by banks and avoid detection by the IRS, an act known as "restructuring."
The withdrawals spurred the FBI and IRS to begin investigating whether Hastert was trying to avoid reporting requirements for bank transactions or if the former speaker was a victim of an extortion scheme, according to court documents.
When questioned by the FBI last December, Hastert said, "Yeah . . . I kept the cash. That’s what I’m doing," when in fact he was handing the money over to someone else, the indictment alleged.
If convicted, Hastert faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
A spokesperson with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Chicago told NBC Chicago that a judge has not yet been assigned to the case and that Hastert is not likely to appear in court until next week.
"I am speechless. He is my friend, has been my friend [and] will always be my friend," said Illinois House Republican Leader Tom Cross.
Hastert was a history teacher and coach in Yorkville when Cross was his high school student, and Hastert recruited Cross into the Republican Party and into politics. Hastert served as the Speaker of the House of Representatives from 1999 to 2007 before joining the Washington, D.C., lobbying and law firm of Dickstein Shaprio as a senior advisor.
A spokesman for Dickstein Shapiro says that the former House speaker has resigned, The Associated Press reported.
The website for Dickstein Shapiro LLC had Hastert's biography as a "featured attorney" as late as Thursday afternoon, but Hastert's contact details appeared to have been removed from the website hours later.