CHICAGO, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- Former U.S. House speaker Dennis Hastert, who is awaiting sentencing for bank fraud, was hospitalized early last month for a stroke and had multiple surgeries, his lawyer reportedly said Thursday.
"We are very hopeful that Mr. Hastert will be released from the hospital in the early part of the new year," he added.
In October, Hastert pleaded guilty to a felony count of federal bank fraud stemming from past misconduct.
Authorities said the former Illinois congressman broke banking laws and lied to investigators while trying to cover up hush money he paid to a former student while Hastert was a teacher, before he entered politics.
Investigators say Hastert withdrew nearly $1 million in increments of $10,000 -- a violation of bank laws -- in an effort to pay $3.5 million to the former student.
"I didn't want them [bank officials] to know how I intended to spend the money," Hastert said before his guilty plea.
Hastert, 73, was elected as an Illinois representative in 1987 and served as House speaker between 1999 and his retirement in 2007.
He is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 29. Prosecutors said they are recommending a six-month jail sentence.