New details about the health of former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert are revealed as his sentencing date is pushed back several months.
Hastert attorney John Gallo told U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin that the former Speaker “nearly died” from a rare form of sepsis affecting his spine days after pleading guilty to illegally structuring his bank withdrawals to avoid reporting requirements.
Hastert pleaded guilty on Oct. 28 to illegal structuring $3.5 million in withdrawals paid to a person known only as “Individual A” to cover up what has been referred to as “prior misconduct.” Federal law enforcement sources have said the misconduct involves the sexual abuse of a student from Hastert’s days as a high school wrestling coach and teacher in Yorkville.
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After being admitted to the hospital the week of Nov. 3, Gallo said Hastert’s mental condition declined and he suffered a small stroke, losing function in the lower half of his body.
As for his current mental state, Gallo said Hastert was “lucid” in their last meeting and wanted to help prepare for his sentencing, with his speech unaffected.
His physical condition is another matter, according to Gallo, who said Hastert only returned home from a rehabilitation facility two weeks ago, and needs help getting out of bed, bathing, and getting dressed.
“But for 24-hour care, Mr. Hastert would be in a nursing home,” Gallo said.
These physical struggles were the basis of Gallo asking for sentencing to be pushed back from its original date of Feb. 29.
"The particular issue is mobility,” Gallo said. “He told me yesterday he took his first step up stairs.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Block didn’t fight the request to delay sentencing, but asked the judge to set a firm sentencing date instead of another status hearing, saying “There are victims in this case that deserve closure.”
Judge Durkin agreed, setting a new sentencing date of April 8, with Gallo saying Hastert may attend the court date in a wheelchair if necessary.
Under Hastert’s plea agreement, prosecutors are recommending a sentence ranging from probation to a maximum of six months behind bars.
Gallo declined to speak to reporters after the hearing.