CHICAGO (CBS) — Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges he paid hush money to conceal wrongdoing before he entered politics, and lied to the FBI when questioned about the money.
Dressed in a dark blue suit, the 73-year-old Hastert appeared frail, hunching over as he walked through a crowd of photographers and reporters waiting outside the Dirksen Federal Courthouse on Tuesday.
Hastert pleaded guilty when he appeared before U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin.
Hastert, who was second in line to succeed the president while he served eight years as the Republican Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1999 to 2007, has not spoken publicly since he was indicted in late May on one count each of structuring currency transactions to evade Currency Transaction Reports and making a false statement to the FBI.
The indictment accused Hastert of illegally structuring bank withdrawals to hide $1.7 million in payments he made to a longtime acquaintance, and lying to the FBI when questioned about the banking activity.
Hastert’s arraignment drew so much media attention, a judge in a neighboring courtroom complained about noise from the throng of reporters waiting to get into Durkin’s courtroom before Hastert’s hearing. Read the rest of this entry »