Former House Speaker Hastert seeks sentencing delay due to poor health

CHICAGO Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, convicted last year of a financial crime, asked on Friday for a delay in his sentencing due to poor health.

Hastert pleaded guilty in October to a federal charge of “structuring” – evading bank reporting rules by withdrawing large amounts of cash in smaller increments – in a hush-money case stemming from allegations of sexual misconduct.

The 74-year-old, once one of the country’s most powerful politicians, was hospitalized in November and was treated for a spinal infection requiring surgery, a severe blood infection and a stroke, his lawyers said in a motion filed on Friday.

The lawyers have not been able to meet with Hastert to prepare for the scheduled Feb. 29 sentencing due to his health problems, the motion said. The lawyers requested a March 7 status hearing before U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin.

Hastert faces up to five years in prison but prosecutors have recommended a sentence of six months or less, in exchange for his guilty plea.

Hastert admitted 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.

(Reporting by Fiona Ortiz; Editing by Alan Crosby)

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