The judge said he could possibly sentence him to up to five years along with fine when he’s sentenced in February, although national prosecutors urged a sentence of zero to half a year in prison for Hastert.
The plea to one count of “structuring” – taking money out of the bank in amounts below $10,000 to evade bank reporting rules on big cash movements – indicates a dramatic downfall for someone who once ranked among the country’s most powerful politicians.
“Former US House Speaker did not need them to understand how I meant to spend the cash,” he said in a one-sentence statement.
In the plea agreement he confessed to paying $1.
7 million in cash to an individual he had known for decades, so that you can buy that man’s silence regarding previous misconduct and to compensate for the misconduct.
The indictment as well as the plea usually do not mention sexual misconduct, but unnamed law enforcement officials have told media the past misconduct involved someone Hastert understood when he was coach and a teacher in Yorkville, Illinois and was sexual.
Another charge of lying to the FBI was dismissed in the case.
Hastert, stooped, wearing a gray suit and white-haired, remains free on bail pending a sentencing hearing on Feb.
Hastert and his attorneys declined to comment to reporters on leaving the courthouse.
The prior speaker hasn’t spoken publicly since his indictment.