Hastert expresses remorse, asks for probation

Lawyers for former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who admitted violating banking laws in an agreement to pay $3.5 million in hush money, say their client "feels deep regret and remorse for his actions" and is "prepared to accept the consequences."

In a sentencing memorandum filed in federal court Wednesday, defense attorneys Thomas Green and John Gallo asked U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Durkin to sentence the 74-year-old former lawmaker to probation.

His plea agreement with federal prosecutors calls for a prison sentence of no more than six months with probation as an option. The plea marked a spectacular fall from grace from the former state representative who became one of the nation's most powerful leaders as the longest-serving Republican House speaker.

After federal prosecutors announced the charges in May, Hastert resigned from his Washington, D.C., lobbying job, and his name was removed from a government and public policy center at his alma mater, Wheaton College.

In the court filing, Hastert's attorneys wrote he "continues to be consumed by feelings of regret. He is overwhelmed by the guilt he feels for his actions, for the harm he caused by his misconduct, and for disappointing those who have supported him for so long."

Hastert "apologizes for his misconduct that occurred decades ago," the court filing said.

After his guilty plea, Hastert nearly died from a blood infection and subsequent stroke, which forced the postponement of his sentencing originally scheduled for Feb. 29.

The memorandum indicates Hastert has been in a "state of despair caused by extreme isolation and the withdrawal of support from many friends and former colleagues."

As part of his plea agreement, Hastert admitted paying "Individual A" $1.7 million to keep quiet about past misconduct. The nature of that misconduct has never been divulged. However, The Associated Press reported the payments were to silence allegations of sexual misconduct when Hastert was a teacher and coach at Yorkville High School.

According to a transcript of a hearing last month, an alleged sex abuse victim of Hastert's could testify April 27 at the former speaker's sentencing hearing before Durkin.

Durkin, brother of longtime Illinois House Republican leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs, acknowledged at Hastert's 2015 arraignment that he donated a total of $1,500 to the former speaker's campaign in 2002 and 2004 but said he never met him. Durkin said he could be impartial, and both sides agreed to have him preside over the case..

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