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Ex-US House speaker indicted on federal charges

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Former US House Speaker Dennis Hastert agreed to pay $3.5 million to an acquaintance who blackmailed him.

Former US House Speaker Dennis Hastert has been indicted on federal charges which include making false statements to the FBI, the US attorney’s office in Chicago says.  

Hastert, an Illinois Republican who left office in 2007, agreed to pay $3.5 million in hush money to a person from the town where he was a longtime high school teacher “to conceal his past misconduct”, according to the indictment announced by the US attorney for the Northern District of Illinois on Thursday.

The indictment charges the 73-year-old with one count of evading bank regulations by withdrawing $952,000 in small increments o to avoid reporting requirements.

Hastert, who was a high school teacher and wrestling coach in Yorkville from 1965 to 1981, was also accused of lying to the FBI about the reason for the unusual withdrawals.

Hastert had so far paid $1.7 million to the person, who had lived in Yorkville and had known Hastert for most of his life.

The unnamed person was identified as individual A.

When interrogated by the FBI about the withdrawals, Hastert said the cash was for his own use.

“Yeah, I kept the cash. That’s what I’m doing,” the indictment quoted Hastert as telling FBI agents.

Hastert now faces charges of structuring currency transactions to avoid Currency Transaction Reports and hiding the truth from the FBI.

He is scheduled to be arraigned later at US District Court in downtown Chicago.

Hastert served as the speaker of the House of Representatives from 1999 to 2007 and has also worked as a lobbyist in Washington since 2008.

Hastert resigned from his position as a lobbyist at law and lobby firm Dickstein Shapiro following the indictment.

"Dennis Hastert has resigned from the firm. Scott Thomas will continue to lead the Public Policy & Political Law Practice," a firm spokesman told The Hill, a Washington-based newspaper.

AT/GJH


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