(Reuters) - Former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Dennis Hastert was indicted on Thursday on federal charges, including for lying to the FBI, relating to an alleged effort to hide $3.5 million in payments to a person to conceal past misconduct.
The Illinois Republican, who left office in 2007, was charged with structuring the withdrawal of $952,000 in cash in order to evade the requirement that banks report cash transactions over $10,000, and lying to the FBI about his withdrawals, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago said.
Each count of the two-count indictment carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Hastert, 73, was not available for comment, according to his office at the Dickstein Shapiro law firm in Washington where he is listed as a senior adviser.
According to the indictment, the unspecified misconduct involved payments to an unnamed individual who had been a Yorkville, Illinois, resident and had known Hastert for most of the person’s life.
Before his terms in Congress, Hastert served three terms as an Illinois state representative and was a teacher at Yorkville High School in suburban Chicago for 16 years, according to a biography from Wheaton College where he graduated in 1964.
According to the indictment, Hastert met with the person several times around 2010 and discussed past misconduct by the former lawmaker. Eventually, Hastert agreed to pay the person $3.5 million in compensation to conceal the misconduct, the indictment said.
Shortly afterward, Hastert began making cash payments to the individual, according to the indictment.
Hastert served as a congressman from suburban Chicago for more than 20 years before resigning from the House in November 2007, having lost the speaker’s job when Democrats gained control of the House in the 2006 elections.
Hastert joined Dickstein Shapiro in 2008 as a senior adviser. Hastert resigned from the board of the exchange operator CME Group Inc on Thursday, the company said.
Reporting by Eric Beech in Washington, Tom Polansek in Chicago and David Bailey in Minneapolis; Editing by Peter Cooney and Eric Beech