Friday, January 29, 2016

Will one-time speaker Hastert survive long enough to be sentenced in fed ct?

Remember the scene from the two-decade-old film “Casino” where, when the organized crime leaders wind up in legal trouble and have to appear in court, they wind up showing up with assorted canes and wheelchairs – and one even came with an oxygen tank so he could allegedly breathe.

HASTERT: Proceedings continue
The implication being that these men came up with ailments so as to appeal to the sympathy of the court that could theoretically have sent them way to prison for lengthy stints.

NOW I’M SURE some people are going to be grossly offended at my bringing this up upon learning that one-time House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert’s attorneys are now saying he nearly died from assorted ailments back in November.

It was that claim, and the need to have Hastert’s cooperation in preparing his defense, that got his attorneys to ask for a delay in his sentencing.

For the record, U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin on Thursday rescheduled the sentencing hearing for Hastert to April 8. Although news accounts of Thursday’s court hearing indicate federal prosecutors are concerned the sentencing may be delayed too long.

Now I don’t know first-hand the extent to how ill the 74-year-old Hastert was back in November, or is now. But you just know that for every person now offended with me for bringing this up, there probably are two or three who are having the same exact thought.

IS THE HASTERT case going to drag out into a legal circus far worse than the mere facts of the case usually would warrant – just because of whom Denny is or what it is he is alleged to have really done?

Considering that Hastert supposedly is facing the prospect of up to six months in a federal corrections facility if he ultimately pleads guilty, could this case have long been settled if not for maneuvering that is dragging it out longer and longer than it ought to be?

This desire for a delay only adds to the circus atmosphere, and the expense to the judicial system brought about by the U.S. attorney’s desire to “put away” one of the few Illinois politicos ever to reach the rank of speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

This is a case that already has many people upset, particularly because the perception is out there that Hastert will someday be able to plead guilty to financial infractions whereas many people want “the dirt” about whether he did something sexual with a teenage boy back when Denny was a high school wrestling coach!

PROSECUTORS SAY THAT Hastert made significant payoffs of his own money to one of his former students decades after the two were involved in each others lives. In short, after Hastert wasn’t a political person and actually had significant money to spend as part of his post-political, lobbyist life.

Because some of those payments involved withdrawals from bank accounts in large amounts – violating federal laws requiring such withdrawals to be reported immediately to the government – Hastert is alleged to have committed a crime.

But that’s all he’s facing. Prosecutors say the allegations about Hastert and the boy are too old to investigate, and aren’t really relevant to the financial crime that intrigues them.

I’ve written previously that the people who are interested in this case solely as a sex crime are going to be frustrated. They’re not going to get the titillation they desire.

BUT THE LONGER that the Hastert camp drags this out, the more outrage there ultimately will be felt by whatever outcome this court case brings about.

I almost wish Hastert would just enter his “guilty” plea and serve his sentence, so that we can all move on.

Besides, then he could do his time and try to go the Dan Rostenkowski route of a political elder statesman with a touch of taint to his story – and could wind up getting a presidential pardon someday down the road if the GOP actually manages to regain the White House come November.

And was more fortunate than that one character from "Casino," the one who died of a heart attack on-the-spot upon being told by FBI agents he faced federal indictment and that it was his own records that would provide significant evidence against he and his crime colleagues.


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