WASHINGTON, April 7 (UPI) -- Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert said he is "deeply sorry" for "misconduct that occurred decades ago" and asked a federal judge for probation instead of jail time weeks ahead of his sentencing in a hush-money case with alleged links to sexual abuse.
Hastert, in a carefully worded court filing, said he is in poor health. His attorneys said he "reshaped his life" many years ago, noting his many accomplishments as a leading Illinois Republican with an otherwise law-abiding life.
Hastert's attorneys did not acknowledge accusations he molested a male former student while he was a high school teacher and wrestling coach in Yorkville, Ill., in the 1980s. His attorneys said his teaching and coaching career was a way to "make a difference in the lives of young people." Attorneys noted the the shame of the case was punishment enough.
Hastert is scheduled to be sentenced on April 27.
"First and foremost, Mr. Hastert is deeply sorry and apologizes for his misconduct that occurred decades ago and the resulting harm he caused to others," his attorneys said. "He will stand before the court having deteriorated both physically and emotionally, undoubtedly in part due to public shaming and humiliation of an unprecedented degree."
Hastert, 74, pleaded guilty in October to bank fraud for structuring monetary transactions to evade mandatory reporting requirements. Hastert admitted he arranged the payments to a person only identified as Individual A for a total of $3.5 million to cover up decades-old misconduct while he was a teacher and coach. He also admitted lying to the FBI when questioned in 2014 about the bank withdrawals.
Prosecutors, as part of the plea agreement, recommended a sentence ranging from probation to six months in prison, the lowest possible sentence under federal felony conviction guidelines.