As I reported in a June 2, 2015 client alert, on May 28, 2015, Dennis Hastert, former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, was indicted by a federal grand jury in the Northern District of Illinois. Mr. Hastert, a former high school teacher and football coach, was charged with making a “materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation” to the FBI in violation of 18 U.S.C. section 1001(a)(2), and with structuring financial transactions “knowingly and for the purpose of evading the reporting requirements” of federal AML regulations issued by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”), in violation of 31 U.S.C. section 5324(a)(3).
My analysis of Mr. Hastert’s indictment was also covered by Bloomberg.com on June 9, 2015 – Ex-Speaker Hastert to Give First Answer to Hush-Money Charges. In that article, I commented that “Hastert may ultimately negotiate a plea deal under which he might serve little if any prison time because of his long record of public service.” It turns out that a plea deal appears to have been reached.
This morning, the Chicago Tribune reported that Mr. Hastert “plans to plead guilty to an indictment that alleges that he agreed to make $3.5 million in hush money payments to cover up wrongdoing from years ago.” See “Dennis Hastert reaches plea deal, to admit wrongdoing,” Chicago Tribune (Oct. 15, 2015), available at ChicagoTribune.com. According to the Tribune, Mr. Hastert has been ordered to appear in court on October 28 to enter the guilty plea. The plea agreement itself is expected to be submitted to the court on Monday, October 19.
We will continue to follow this story closely and report on the substance of the plea agreement, and the impact of this action on future AML enforcement actions and prosecutions.
Travis P. Nelson is a member of Reed Smith’s Financial Services Regulatory Group, and Co-Chair of the Anti-Money Laundering & Trade Sanctions Group, resident in the New York and Princeton offices. Travis is formerly an Enforcement Counsel with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, U.S. Treasury Department, and regularly represents clients in regulatory compliance, BSA/AML compliance and defense, and examinations and enforcement actions. Travis is also adjunct faculty at Villanova Law School, where he teaches Financial Institutions Regulation; editor-in-chief of the ABA’s Banking Law Committee Journal; and Vice-Chair of the Banking Law Section of the New Jersey State Bar.