WASHINGTON, DC – Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert has pleaded not guilty to all charges related to lying to the FBI about $3.5 million he agreed to pay to an undisclosed subject to “cover up past misconduct.”
Hastert was arraigned in court in Chicago on Tuesday afternoon, amid reports he allegedly sexually abused former students.
The former House speaker has hired high-profile white collar crime lawyer Thomas Green to defend him in court. Green has defended clients involved in Watergate, Iran Contra and Whitewater.
Judge Thomas Durkin is allowing Hastert to be released on a pretrial release. Hastert had to sign and appearance bond of $4,500 which he forfeits if he fails to appear.
He was also barred from carrying firearms, had to surrender his passport and cooperate in giving a sample of DNA.
Hastert faces charges of lying to federal investigators and hiding bank transactions as part of a plan to pay $3.5 million in hush money to one of his victims, identified only as “Individual A”. Law enforcement sources confirmed a second alleged victim was interviewed by them and the sister of a third alleged victim told ABC that her brother had been molested by Hastert.
Hastert worked as a high school teacher and wrestling coach before starting his career in politics. By the time he retired, in 2007, Hastert was the third most powerful public official in the U.S. (behind the president and vice president). During his time atop the House, Hastert oversaw an internal investigation of then-U.S. Rep. Mark Foley, who had been accused of sexually harassing male pages.
A few years after he left the House, according to the indictment against Hastert, he was approached by “Individual A” and agreed to pay $3.5 million to cover up “past misconduct”. From 2010-2014, Hastert paid $1.7 million to the person, avoiding bank reporting requirements in the process.
Hastert returned to his Plano, Ill. home Monday night. ABC News reported that Hastert had been at his Wisconsin vacation home before returning to Illinois.