Sources: Dennis Hastert to serve prison sentence in Minnesota

Chicago Tribune

Dennis Hastert will serve his 15-month sentence at a federal medical prison in Minnesota, as recommended by the judge who rejected the former U.S. House speaker’s plea for probation, sources close to the case confirmed Friday.

Hastert must surrender by 2 p.m. Wednesday for his conviction on federal bank violations stemming from a sensational hush-money case that unearthed decades-old sexual misconduct against minors.

At sentencing in late April, U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Durkin said Hastert, 74 and in declining health, should go to a prison with a high-level medical facility. With credit for good behavior, Hastert could be in custody for about 121/2 months.

Once second in line to the presidency, he will be known while confined only as federal inmate No. 47991-424.


The Rochester Federal Medical Center is the closest prison of its kind to the Chicago area, roughly 350 miles away, and has the fewest inmates among the medical centers with nearly 700, according to the prisons bureau website. It is one of five such facilities that serve complex medical needs of male inmates.

Other notable inmates to serve time in Rochester include former Rep. Dan Rostenkowski, a Chicago Democrat, for mail fraud and Jim Bakker, the former television evangelist convicted of fraud and conspiracy. Currently, Jared Lee Loughner, the perpetrator of the 2011 Tucson, Ariz., shooting that killed six people and severely injured former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, is assigned there.

Affiliated with the Mayo Clinic, Rochester is the primary medical facility for inmates with end-stage liver disease, advanced HIV infection and other infectious diseases that require long-term management, according to a bureau publication. Additionally, the medical center provides psychiatric and psychology services.

Durkin said he conferred with bureau officials to determine whether Hastert’s medical needs can be met while he is incarcerated. The judge acknowledged Hastert suffered a “catastrophic illness and is at risk for complications.”


Hastert’s defense team has said a severe blood infection nearly took his life after his guilty plea in October. He also suffered a minor stroke. Durkin said he is satisfied Hastert’s needs can be met while in custody there.

“Finally, if the defendant’s health suffers precipitously (in prison), the warden told me they act aggressively to process a compassionate care release for the prisoner so the case returns to me for resentencing and release,” the judge said in April.

A Bureau of Prisons spokesman could not immediately be reached Friday, but the bureau’s policy is to not confirm an inmate’s location until after their arrival.

Hastert pleaded guilty in October to one count of illegally structuring $950,000 in bank withdrawals to avoid reporting requirements. He admitted in a plea deal with prosecutors he was making the withdrawals to pay a longtime acquaintance — identified in court records only as Individual A — to hide wrongdoing from his past.


The case began to unfold four years ago after a Yorkville bank noticed the suspicious withdrawals. In December 2014, FBI agents confronted Hastert. He told them he was trying to keep his money safe, but shortly after that meeting, an attorney representing Hastert called authorities to say the former speaker was a victim of an extortion plot.

Hastert claimed in a February 2015 meeting with federal prosecutors that Individual A, a former Yorkville standout wrestler, had falsely accused him of inappropriately touching him decades ago when he was a coach. At the request of authorities, Hastert secretly recorded two calls to Individual A to try to catch him making extortionist threats, but agents soon realized it was Hastert who appeared to be lying.

Agents then decided to question Individual A, who told them about the abuse. In all, Hastert faced allegations involving five former students. The incidents occurred in empty locker rooms and in a motel room on a summer wrestling trip.


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