WASHINGTON — Indicted former House Speaker Dennis Hastert was paying an individual from his past to conceal sexual misconduct, two federal law enforcement officials said Friday.
One of the officials, who would not speak publicly about the federal charges in Chicago, said “Individual A,” as the person is described in Thursday’s federal indictment, was male and that the alleged misconduct was unrelated to Hastert’s tenure in Congress.
The actions date to Hastert’s time as a Yorkville, Ill., high school wrestling coach and teacher, the official said.
“It goes back a long way, back to then,” the source said. “It has nothing to do with public corruption or a corruption scandal. Or to his time in office.”
Thursday’s indictment described the misconduct “against Individual A” as having “occurred years earlier.”
Asked why Hastert was making the payments, the official said it was to conceal Hastert’s past relationship with the male. “It was sex,’ ” the source said. The other official, when asked if the misconduct was sexual abuse, said, “That’s correct.”
Hastert and his attorneys could not be reached. Representatives of his lobbying firm declined to comment.
According to the seven-page indictment, Individual A met multiple times in 2010 with Hastert but brought up the allegations of past misconduct during at least one of the meetings. During that discussion and later meetings, Hastert agreed to pay $3.5 million to Individual A to conceal the wrongdoing, the indictment alleged.
From June 2010 to April 2012, Hastert made 15 withdrawals of $50,000 each from bank accounts he controlled and paid Individual A that cash about every six weeks, according to the charges.
After bank representatives questioned Hastert about the withdrawals in 2012, he began illegally structuring the cash withdrawals in increments less than $10,000 to evade bank reporting requirements, the indictment said.
The FBI began investigating the cash withdrawals in 2013. According to the indictment, agents were interested in whether Hastert was using the cash “for a criminal purpose” but were also investigating the possibility that Hastert “was the victim of a criminal extortion related to, among other matters, his prior positions in government.”
When questioned by the FBI about the withdrawals last December, Hastert, who as speaker was once second in line to take over the Oval Office if the president was incapacitated, said he was trying to store cash because he didn’t feel safe with the banking system, according to the charges.
“Yeah ... I kept the cash. That’s what I’m doing,” Hastert was quoted as saying to the agents.