What J. Dennis Hastert, Ex-House Speaker, Will Face in Prison


CHICAGO — When J. Dennis Hastert, a former House speaker, reports this week to a federal prison in Minnesota, he will receive a copy of the institution’s rules and regulations, an inmate identification card and a strict weekday schedule that includes periodic inmate counts, “pill lines” and 7:30 a.m. room inspections.

Mr. Hastert, convicted of breaking financial rules in payoffs aimed at covering up sexual abuse, has been ordered to appear by Wednesday afternoon at the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, Minn., to begin serving his 15-month sentence. He will be known as Prisoner No. 47991-424.

His lawyers had argued that Mr. Hastert, who is 74 and has had a stroke, a blood stream infection and a spinal infection over the past year, should have received probation. But the Rochester center — about 260 miles from Mr. Hastert’s home in Plano, Ill. — is equipped to deal with medical problems, according to an admission and orientation handbook for the prison.

Mr. Hastert was sentenced in April during an intense hearing in a federal courtroom, where he publicly admitted for the first time to abusing high school wrestlers that he coached decades ago, and where he was confronted by one of his former wrestlers and sternly rebuked by the judge overseeing the case.

Mr. Hastert, who coached wrestling from 1965 to 1981, was not charged with sexual abuse, and statutes of limitation on possible charges from those years had run out. Instead, Mr. Hastert was charged with violating a banking regulation in an effort to pay $3.5 million to one victim, identified as Individual A — a scheme that, once it was uncovered, led to other stories of abuse from at least four such young men.

The nation’s longest-serving Republican speaker, Mr. Hastert joins a long list of Chicago-area politicians to face prison time, including Governors Rod R. Blagojevich and George Ryan and former Representatives Dan Rostenkowski, Jesse L. Jackson Jr. and Mel Reynolds. By one count, the area has had at least 1,642 public corruption convictions since 1976.

Mr. Hastert’s lawyer, Thomas C. Green, declined an interview request. It is uncertain how or precisely when Mr. Hastert will arrive at the prison, which includes 11 buildings on a 64-acre complex and houses 687 male inmates of all security levels. Mr. Hastert has stayed largely out of public view since his sentencing, when he appeared in a wheelchair amid a crush of news media. He is required to arrive by 2 p.m. Wednesday.

By policy, the Bureau of Prisons will not address the circumstances of an individual like Mr. Hastert, who is not in custody. But according to a handbook for inmates, he will be issued standard clothing, laundry bags and bed linens. He can purchase items like toothpaste, reading glasses and candy from a commissary. The facility includes dormitory-style housing as well as individual cells.

Once he is released from prison, Mr. Hastert also faces two years of supervised release, which will bar him from communicating with the former wrestling team members in the case and from possessing a firearm. He will be required to participate in a treatment program for sex offenders.



Source link

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *