Dennis Hastert: ‘Not Guilty’ To Hiding Hush Money

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert stepped into the public eye for the first time since the scandal broke about whether he paid money to keep underage sexual incidents quiet.

Speaker Hastert pleaded not guilty to charges of “structuring,” which is an attempt to evade reports of large payouts from bank accounts by spreading them out and/or transferring through multiple accounts. Banking laws dictate that payouts from bank accounts that exceed $10,000 must be reported by the financial institution to federal agencies.

Dennis Hastert is accused of lying to the FBI in its investigation of banking transactions he allegedly made, as well as structuring payments to evade detection.

Hastert is further suspected of making the payments in question to a man in exchange for his silence regarding sexual misconduct when that man was underage and attending a school where Hastert taught.

At this time, Dennis Hastert is not formally accused of sexual misconduct, but rather the banking violations that may surround those matters.

The Chicago Sun Times reports that Dennis Hastert entered a not guilty plea to those charges before U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Durkin today.

Hastert “had to surrender his passport, allow for DNA collection, and avoid contact with any witnesses or alleged victims in the case, as conditions of his bond,” the Sun Times reported.

The former House Speaker and star of the Republican party in the Clinton years was indicted on May 28 on the charges. Since that time, news outlets have delved into who Hastert may have been paying the money to, and why. There have also been suspicions, based on court documents and investigation reports, that there may be more than one underage victim of Hastert’s alleged sexual misconduct.

If Dennis Hastert is convicted on both counts that he pleaded not guilty to today, he could face up to 10 years in prison.

Whether he may also may face other charges stemming from the alleged sexual misconduct is still unannounced.

The New York Times reports that Hastert taught and coached wrestling in Yorkville, Illinois, before his political career began. The sexual misconduct is said to have taken place with at least one boy who was on Hastert’s wrestling team.

Former Speaker Hastert is 73-years-old. His career in the House of Representatives was marked by the impeachment of President Bill Clinton at the hands of the Republicans in power at that time for statements related to his own alleged sexual misconduct.

[Image via New York Times]

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