Lawyers for former speaker Hastert say victim still trying to collect $1.8M in 'hush money'

Hastert, who served as U.S. House speaker from 1999 to 2007, is scheduled to be sentenced April 27.
By Doug G. Ware  |  April 13, 2016 at 5:34 PM
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CHICAGO, April 13 (UPI) -- One of the victims who claims he was sexually abused decades ago by former U.S. House speaker John Dennis Hastert is still trying to collect the remainder of the "hush money" he says he was promised six years ago, newly unsealed court documents say.

Hastert, 74, was indicted by an Illinois grand jury last May for manipulating banking laws to continue payouts to four victims -- who claim they were sexually abused as students when the former congressman was a high school teacher and wrestling coach before entering politics.

The eight-year house speaker pleaded guilty in October to banking charges and is scheduled to be sentenced on April 27.

The FBI began investigating Hastert in late 2014 after he'd made numerous cash transactions in amounts less than $10,000 to circumvent federal law that requires institutions to report transactions exceeding that amount -- an anti-money laundering measure.

Hastert, who worked at a Chicago area high school between 1965 and 1981, was using the small sums to structure payments to the victims in exchange for their silence.

The FBI's investigation led to Hastert's indictment in May on charges of fraud and lying to federal agents, for misleading them about the purpose of the payments.

According to the legal documents, one victim, referred to as 'Individual A' in court records, has continued to try and collect the remainder of a $3.5 million payoff allegedly promised by Hastert in 2010 in exchange for his silence.

Even after Hastert's indictment last year, his attorneys say 'Individual A' has continued to try and get their client to pay the outstanding $1.8 million portion of the original $3.5 million payoff -- as recently as January.

"Mr. Hastert did actually fear that Individual A could destroy him if he went public," Hastert attorneys Tom Green, John Gallo and Geeta Malhotra wrote in the court document. "And, in fact, Individual A may still go public if he pursues Mr. Hastert civilly, as his lawyer has threatened to do if Mr. Hastert does not pay Individual A the remaining $1.8 million from their initial arrangement, plus statutory interest."

At a court hearing Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Durkin ordered the documents, which are a response to prosecutors' sentencing recommendations, to be unsealed.

Prosecutors have recommended that Hastert, who has suffered from ill health in recent years, spend six months in prison. Punishment, though, could be more severe if Durkin believes the payoffs amounted to extortion.

Defense attorneys are asking for probation, citing Hastert's poor health and remorse.

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