Ex-Speaker Hastert has been hospitalized since soon after guilty plea – USA TODAY
CHICAGO â Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert has been hospitalized since early November, shortly after the former Illinois lawmaker pleaded guilty to making dozens ofÂ illegally structured bank withdrawals asÂ part of an effort to pay hush money to someone from his past for decades-old misconduct, his attorney says.
Hastert, 73, suffered a stroke in early November, has been treated for sepsis and has also undergone two back surgeries since being hospitalized, his senior counsel Thomas Green said.
âWe are hopeful that Mr. Hastert will be released from the hospital in the early part of the new year,â GreenÂ said.Â âThe family very much desires that during Mr. Hastertâs continued hospitalization, his privacy will be respected.â
Hastert pleaded guilty in late October to one count of illegal structuring, which carriesÂ a maximum sentence of five years. But under the plea agreement, federal prosecutor Steven BlockÂ recommended that Hastert, the longest serving GOP speaker in history, be sentenced to zero to six monthsÂ in federal prison.
Judge Thomas DurkinÂ will make the final decision on terms of his sentence and may reject the prosecutorâs recommendation. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 29.
The indictment referred to the alleged wrongdoing by Hastert as âprior misconductâ against an individual decades ago.
But federal law enforcement officials told USA TODAY that Hastert made illegally structured withdrawals as part of an effort to conceal sexual misconduct he committed against a male student decades earlier at Yorkville High School, where Hastert worked as a teacher and wrestling coach before entering politics.
In a letter to Durkin filed in court records earlier this week, a longtime friend of Hastert made reference to the former speakerâs hospitalization.
âIn light of his recent hospital stay, I would hope that probation in lieu of confinement would be considered in determining his sentence,â wrote C. William Pollard, who is the chairman emeritus of the ServiceMaster Company.