Friday, May 29, 2015

Hastert Case Raises Questions

Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert has been indicted for structuring and lying to the FBI, two crimes that many reasonable people, including me, are not certain should be crimes.  Structuring involves, as alleged here,  limiting deposits and other financial arrangements so as not to trigger a bank report to the IRS. Lying to the FBI includes a denial of wrongful activity, a natural human response by those confronted (although a mere "exculpatory no" without more is no longer generally prosecuted).

The indictment states that Hastert had paid off a fellow Yorkville, Illinois resident he had known most of that person's life  $1.7 million, and promised a total of 3.5 million, "in order to compensate for and conceal...misconduct" committed "years earlier" against that person. The indictment mentions that Hastert was a teacher and wrestling coach at a local high school from 1965-1981. 

Reading between the lines of this deliberately vague and unspecific indictment, my guess is that the alleged underlying misdeeds are sexual in nature.  I also wonder whether the  considerable payment mentioned in the indictment  "to compensate for and conceal misconduct " resulted from extortion and, if so, whether as a matter of prosecutorial discretion and perhaps even as a matter of law Hastert should be prosecuted for such relatively minor crimes, and  whether Hastert is really being punished for wrongs done decades ago (and probably beyond a statute of limitations).  These thoughts, let me be clear, are based on speculation and surmise, with only preliminary knowledge of the facts.

Celebrities, Congress, Legal Ethics, Prosecutions, Prosecutors | Permalink


My thoughts exactly and I'm a former newspaper editor...not a lawyer. In fact I've been wondering if the recipient of the money faces prosecution for extortion. I'm just assuming each time a payment to keep quiet is made any existing statute of limitation is set back to zero and a new clock begins.

Posted by: John K | May 30, 2015 11:48:07 AM

Interesting case here. I'd definitely agree that the indictment seems almost deliberately vague. We'll have to see how that affects the case as this goes on. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

Posted by: Jordan | Jun 1, 2015 7:24:17 AM

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