Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert pleaded guilty today to evading currency-reporting requirements, but no further details came out about the underlying wrongdoing that led him to withdraw nearly $1 million in cash from four banks over 2 ½ years, the Chicago Tribune reports. “Guilty, sir,” Hastert said during a hearing before a judge in Chicago federal court. Hastert, 73, admitted he knew his conduct was wrong. The judge set sentencing for Feb. 29. Hastert faces probation or up to 6 months in prison.
Hastert read a brief statement saying that he didn't want officials to know how he intended to spend the money he withdrew. Prosecutors allege that Hastert had been paying hush money for four years by the time federal agents came knocking at his door last December. He had already been questioned by banks about a series of unusual $50,000 cash withdrawals he had made two years earlier. Still, he tried to keep his secret hidden, telling agents he was trying to store his own money because he didn’t feel safe with the banking system, according to prosecutors. “Yeah … I kept the cash. That’s what I’m doing,” Hastert was quoted by prosecutors as saying to the agents.