Tag Archives: indictment

Former House Speaker Hastert set to plead guilty.

By John Dempsey, WLS News

(CHICAGO) Expect a media circus at Chicago’s Dirksen Federal Building on Wednesday, as disgraced former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert is set to plead guilty to charges of financial irregularities, that are reportedly tied to the sexual abuse of a minor.

Hastert appears before U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin at 8:30 AM on Wednesday, five months to the day after federal prosecutors unveiled a stunning indictment against the once powerful Republican.

Hastert’s lawyers have requested the change-of-plea hearing.  Prosecutors said they expect to reach a written plea agreement with Hastert.

Hastert has not shown his face in court since he pleaded not guilty June 9 to skirting banking laws and lying to the FBI. The charges were unveiled by federal prosecutors in a bombshell indictment announced May 28. It accused Hastert of an alleged $3.5 million hush-money scheme.

The case became even more sensational when sources told media outlets, including the Chicago Sun-Times, that Hastert paid millions of dollars to a longtime male acquaintance to cover up alleged sexual misconduct, stemming from the days when Hastert was a teacher and wrestling coach at Yorkville High School.

However former federal Prosecutor Jeffrey Cramer, now the head of security for the Chicago office of Kroll Investigations, told “The Big John Howell Show” on WLS, that the plea deal means the public may never find out details of that alleged sexual abuse, saying  “In a plea agreement which I think is what we’re gonna see tomorrow, both sides would have to agree as to what the factual allegations is.  The open question is whether or not he’d have to get into why he took out the money and why he was structuring the money.  And while the motive is interesting and it’s a fair point to say that people would want to know what it is, it’s not relevant to what he was charged with”

The indictment against Hastert, a man once second in line to the presidency, is vague. It triggered a search for Hastert’s alleged hush-money recipient, but that hunt has so far been unsuccessful. Known only as “Individual A,” that person is described in Hastert’s indictment simply as “a resident of Yorkville” who has known Hastert “most of Individual A’s life.”

Between 2010 and 2014, Hastert allegedly withdrew $1.7 million in hush money from his bank accounts, handing it over to “Individual A” to keep quiet about past misconduct, according to the indictment. Hastert had ultimately agreed to pay that person $3.5 million, the indictment alleged.

But Hastert illegally split up the withdrawal of $952,000 to evade the banks’ reporting requirements, according to the feds. Then, when the FBI got suspicious and asked Hastert if he made withdrawals as large as $50,000 because he didn’t trust the banks, he allegedly lied and said, “Yea … I kept the cash. That’s what I’m doing.”

More embarrassing details could spill out if the case goes to trial. Experts have repeatedly predicted Hastert would try to avoid such a proceeding.

But Jeffrey Cramer told WLS while federal prosecutors will most likely not release details of the sexual abuse, that won’t stop others from trying to solve the mystery.    “Media and others are trying to find out and going down to the town using process of elimination, trying to see who was on the wrestling team who he interacted with, who may have worked for his campaign since, to try and limit the number of suspects if you will.

Keep in mind this person, while certainly a victim if this is all true….may be an extortionist at this point because Mr. Hastert was giving him close to two million dollars and seemed to be in a hurry to do so.  So maybe a double edged sword for that person.   I left the department of justice about six years ago. I now head the Chicago office of Kroll Investigations, so we do a fair amount of investigations ourselves obviously, it can be done.   You can learn who this person is and I’d be surprised if we didn’t know at some point”.

@ 2015 WLS News

As Little As Eight Months for Byrd-Bennett

Barbara Byrd-Bennett on Connected to Chicago w/Bill Cameron, Photo by Bill Cameron
Barbara Byrd-Bennett on Connected to Chicago w/Bill Cameron, Photo by Bill Cameron

By Bill Cameron, WLS News

(CHICAGO)  The former CEO of Chicago Public Schools, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, pleaded guilty today to steering CPS contracts to a former employer in anticipation of kickbacks and promises of a job after her time with CPS was up.

Byrd-Bennett was all business in federal court, respectfully telling the judge, “I plead Guilty.” All she asked for and got was a cup of water.

In her plea agreement, she agrees to cooperate with the government for other trials. In exchange, the government agrees to drop all but one wire fraud count and recommends a 66 percent reduction to the low end of the sentencing guidelines. That means her sentencing could be as low at eight months in prison.

Byrd-Bennett could testify against two co-defendants. She is scheduled to be sentenced next year.

@ 2015 WLS News

Update: Barbara Byrd-Bennett to Plead Guilty

By Nick Gale, WLS News


(CHICAGO) U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon revealed Thursday afternoon that former head of Chicago Public Schools, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, plans to plead guilty to charges that she steered no-bid CPS contracts to her former employer.

Fardon says Byrd-Bennett has been cooperating with federal investigators.

Byrd-Bennett was indicted Thursday morning on allegations that she pocketed bribes and accepted gifts in exchange for steering a $20.5 million contract to SUPES Academy, an education consulting firm. She was also promised a job with SUPES when she eventually decided to leave CPS.


Read the Byrd-Bennett news release on indictment.

Read the Byrd-Bennett indictment here.

A grand jury subpoena in April led to her resignation as CEO of CPS in May. The subpoena sought documents relating to the SUPES contract.

The co-owners of SUPES also have been charged.

@ 2015 WLS News

Hastert Pleads Not Guilty, Released On Bond

By Nick Gale, WLS News

Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert has pleaded not guilty to charges that he broke banking laws and lied to FBI investigators.

In a dark suit with slouched shoulders, Hastert didn’t say much in court, just answering yes to a few of the judge’s questions. He was released following the arraignment on$4,500 bond and did not talk with reporters as he left court.

There was no talk in court about allegations that he was pulling large sums of money out of the bank to pay $3.5 million in hush money to keep quiet a secret about his past. Sources have indicated those payments were intended to conceal claims that Hastert sexually molested someone decades ago.

So what’s the next step for Hastert and his legal team? Richard Kling, professor at Chicago Kent College of Law, says Hastert may have pleaded not guilty, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to court.

“I would imagine they are in negotiations,” Kling said. “I can’t imagine that he’s going to go to trial because if he goes to trial all of the dirty laundry is no longer going to be under the bed.”

As for Judge Thomas Durkin giving both parties a choice to remove him from hearing the trial after it was disclosed that he twice donated to Hastert’s campaigns through a law firm which he worked and had previously worked with Hastert’s son, Kling says he doubts attorneys for Hastert and the government would make such a request.

“I think he gave the lawyers a choice, ‘If you want to have me recuse myself I will.’ I don’t think they’re going to opt for that choice,” Kling said.

Both sides have until June 11th to make that decision. Until then, no other court dates have been set.

Meanwhile, Hastert must surrender his passport, although he can still travel in the continental United States. He must also turn over any guns in his home.

@ Copyright 2015 WLS News


Durbin “Stunned” on Hastert Indictment

By Nick Gale, WLS News

(Chicago) U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) says he was stunned when he heard that Hastert had been indicted.

Listen to Nick Gale’s story:

“I was stunned when I heard the news,” Durbin said. “I know him, I’ve worked with him, we served together in the Illinois delegation and of course I worked with him when he was speaker. We knew one another and have known one another for many, many years. It was a stunning indictment and revelation. I have not heard his explanation yet and of course I want to but I woke up today and am still shaking my head at the thought that he might be engaged in this sort of activity.”

He says that even though Hastert is innocent until proven guilty, it is still is a black eye on Illinois politics.

“This takes a toll on pub confidence in elected officials across the board, Democrats and Republicans and even though I believe the vast majority of my colleagues in both parties are honest people working hard to serve the public, the continued investigations and indictments and incarcerations of elected officials has got to take its toll on the public confidence of elected officials.”

Durbin spoke during a conference call where he talked about his recent congressional trip to Ukraine, Lithuania and Poland.

Copyright @2015 WLS News


Breaking: Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert has been indicted

By Bill Cameron, WLS News

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert has been indicted

WLS Political Reporter, Bill Cameron, says the surprise federal indictment charged Denny Hastert with trying to cover up payments for undisclosed misconduct.

In 2010, the feds say Hastert agreed to pay $3.5 million to an unnamed “Individual A” to compensate for and conceal his misconduct against this “Individual A.”  He had supposedly withdrawn $1.7 million of it in small amounts under $10,000 to avoid having to file reports on the withdrawals and then lying about it to the FBI.

Now, we’ve known Denny Hastert was involved in some controversial land deals near his Plano home, but we don’t know yet whether the misconduct charged here has anything to do with that.

@ Copyright 2015 WLS News