Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Hastert Would Serve Prison Time Under Plea Deal

As the House Republicans continue in total disarray as they await Paul Ryan's decision as to whether or not he wants to be a masochist and accept the position of Speaker of the House in the face of the growing insanity of the Republican Party, it is right and just - to use a phrase from the Catholic liturgy - to remember the hypocrisy of the so-called "family values" Republicans who do not practice what they preach.  A case in point is former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert who is under federal indictment for  banking law violations that arose from his hush money being paid to a former male student with whom Hastert allegedly had inappropriate sexual contact back in his years as a high school coach.  Politico looks at the plea deal being offered by the feds.  Here are excerpts:

Federal prosecutors in Chicago want former House Speaker Dennis Hastert to serve prison time to resolve a criminal indictment charging he violated federal banking law when he withdrew about $900,000 in cash to pay to an unnamed associate as part of an effort to cover up past [sexual] misconduct [with a minor], sources said.

Defense attorneys and prosecutors are negotiating a plea deal that they will bring before U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin, according to sources close to the case. The deal, details of which are still emerging, would likely call for Hastert to spend more than a year behind bars, one source said.

Hastert, who retired from the House in 2007, was indicted in May on charges of structuring bank withdrawals to avoid federal reporting requirements and lying to the FBI about what he did with the money. The indictment said that between 2012 and 2014 Hastert withdrew $952,000 in increments of less than $10,000 after a bank official warned him that larger amounts would be reported to federal authorities. The federal charges said the money was part of $1.7 million the former speaker paid and a total of $3.5 million he promised to pay to compensate for "past misconduct" against a longtime acquaintance and to compensate for that misdeed.

The federal charges don't detail what Hastert allegedly did to trigger the request for compensation, but they do note that he worked as a teacher and coach at a high school in Yorkville, Ill. before entering politics 35 years ago. Press accounts quoting anonymous sources have claimed that Hastert's "misconduct" involved sexual contact with a male student, but Hastert's attorneys have complained bitterly that those stories came from improper law enforcement leaks.
Many experts expected Hastert to cut a plea deal to avoid the publicity and additional embarrassment a trial could bring, But some thought the 73-year-old former speaker would negotiate an agreement with prosecutors that would involve a period of home confinement and probation rather than prison time.
Some skeptics of the federal bank reporting requirements have criticized the federal indictment, describing it as an effort to punish Hastert for alleged sexual crimes that can't be charged now because the statutes of limitations has passed. However, courts have upheld the use of the law even in case where the government makes no allegation of wrongdoing besides the way the cash transactions were broken up.
Personally, I have no sympathy for Hastert.  And let's get real.  No one promises to pay $3.5 million for past "misconduct" unless that misconduct is very, very damaging.  Thus, the allegations of sexual misconduct with a former student seem to reach that level of gravity.  The other thing that I will note - as I have in the past - is that 9 times out of 10 it is the "family values" Republicans who seem to always be engaging in illicit and/or gay sex even as they lie to constituents and prostitute themselves to the Christofascist elements of the GOP base.

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