Hastert’s False Extortion Claim To Affect Sentence
Judge calls lying to federal authorities an 'aggravating factor'
A federal judge in Chicago on Wednesday said he will consider the fact that Dennis Hastert lied to federal officials about being extorted over false sexual abuse claims as an “aggravating factor” in his sentencing.
Prosecutors at the hearing also said they believed one of Hastert’s victims will testify at the former House speaker’s April 27 sentencing, the Chicago Tribune reported. U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Durkin said at the hearing that he was concerned about Hastert’s lying to federal authorities. The former Illinois Republican lawmaker had told authorities he was being extorted by an individual falsely claiming that Hastert sexually abused him decades ago when he was a teacher and wrestling coach in Yorkville, Ill. In fact, Hastert had willingly agreed to pay off the man, and evidence has emerged that he abused at least four students.
“That’s not conduct that’s 40 years old. That’s conduct that’s a year old,” Durkin said. “Among the aggravating factors in this case, that’s a big one.”
Prosecutors are seeking a sentence of up to six months in prison for Hastert on a charge that he illegally withdrew $1.7 million over four and a half years from multiple banks to evade federal reporting requirements.
Hastert pleaded guilty to the charge in October. His attorneys have requested probation instead of prison time , citing his poor health and the “humiliation and isolation” he has undergone since his indictment last year.
Prosecutors said in court documents released Friday that Hastert sexually abused four underage boys during his years as a high school wrestling coach from the 1960s to the 1980s.