When news broke that former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert had been indicted for structuring transactions to avoid IRS detection and lying about it to the FBI, it sounded like routine corruption. The details of the indictment, though, point in a different direction, stressing Hastert's time as a high school teacher and that Individual A, who Hastert was attempting to pay off "to compensate for and conceal his prior misconduct against," "has been a resident of Yorkville, Illinois and has known defendant JOHN DENNIS HASTERT most of Individual A’s life." So how do we read this?
"Notice the teacher and coach language," said Jeff Cramer, a former federal prosecutor and head of the Chicago office of the investigation firm Kroll. "Feds don't put in language like that unless it's relevant."
Legal experts said extortion cases can be tricky. In mulling over whom to charge, prosecutors often must decide whether the person being extorted or the person doing the extorting is most victimized, said Chicago-based attorney and former federal prosecutor Phil Turner. "In most instances you would view someone being extorted as the victim because they are being shaken down," he said. "But prosecutors have enormous discretion and, in some instance, may see the person doing the extortion as a greater victim. Those are factors that can be weighed."
So, yes, we are probably talking about someone who Hastert knew in his capacity as a teacher and coach, and despite the fact that this person was extorting him for $3.5 million—a significant pile of money—Hastert is in trouble. These are not good signs. Hastert has resigned his position as a lobbyist.