Former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Dennis Hastert, who pleaded guilty in October in a hush-money case stemming from allegations of sexual misconduct, has suffered a stroke, his lawyer said on Thursday.
Attorney Tom Green said that during the first week of November, Hastert, 73, was admitted to the hospital. Hastert suffered a stroke, was treated for sepsis, had two back surgeries and remains hospitalized, Green said in an emailed statement.
Hastert, a Republican who led the House of Representatives from 1999 to 2007, pleaded guilty on Oct. 28 to one count of "structuring" - withdrawing funds from bank accounts in amounts below $10,000 to evade bank reporting rules. The rules exist to detect money laundering.
Hastert is to be sentenced on Feb. 29 in federal court in Chicago. It is possible sentencing could be postponed due to his health problems. He faces up to five years in prison. Prosecutors recommended a sentence of up to six months.
Green said in his statement that he hopes that Hastert will be released from the hospital in the early part of next year.
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office said the office does not comment on the medical condition of a defendant.
Hastert admitted to U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Durkin to paying $1.7 million in cash to an individual he had known for decades to buy that person's silence and compensate for past misconduct toward that individual.
Prosecutors did not spell out the misconduct, but unnamed law enforcement officials have told media that it was sexual and involved someone Hastert knew when he was a high school teacher and coach in his hometown of Yorkville, Illinois, in the 1960s and 1970s.
In a letter filed with the court on Tuesday, C. William Pollard, a friend of Hastert's and chairman emeritus of The ServiceMaster Company, asked Durkin to consider Hastert's "recent hospital stay" in offering probation instead of jail. Pollard called Hastert "a man of integrity."
(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski in Chicago; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Leslie Adler)