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Ex-House Speaker Dennis Hastert released from Minnesota prison

Ex-House Speaker Dennis Hastert released from Minnesota prison”

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert has been released from a Minnesota federal prison and transferred to a Chicago re-entry facility, after serving most of a 15-month sentence in a hush money case. He pleaded guilty to illegally structuring bank withdrawals to avoid reporting where he was sending funds as part of the $3.5 million settlement. The scandal stemmed from hush money he paid to hide sexual abuse he committed of students while he was a high school teacher and coach several decades ago.

The former Speaker admitted to the judge at his April 2016 sentencing hearing that he had sexually abused children in 1970s during his time as a wrestling coach at Yorkville High School in IL.

Hastert was never charged with child abuse because the statute of limitations had already passed. His official release date had been scheduled for August 16.

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Technically, Hastert was brought down for violating federal banking laws.

The reentry center, or halfway house, gives inmates who are near release assistance in a "safe, structured, supervised environment", according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons website.

Hastert's attorneys declined comment Tuesday.

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Hastert, 75, was the longest-serving Republican speaker of the House. But he says federal authorities "got him on what they could". Prison and health experts have said that treatment will likely include a lie-detector test to determine how many times Hastert sexually abused kids and for how long. The Tribune honored his wishes until he appeared at the sentencing hearing and confronted his former coach while delivering an emotional statement. At least four other students involved in the wrestling program, including an equipment manager who is deceased, alleged at some point their coach sexually abused them in the 1960s and 1970s. He has since sued Hastert in a Kendall County breach-of-contract lawsuit seeking the remaining $1.8 million - plus accrued interest - he argues Hastert owes him.

Hastert represented IL in the House of Representatives from 1987 to 2007, and was elected as the House speaker in 1999, replacing former Georgia Rep. Newt Gingrich.

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