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Ex-US House speaker pleads guilty in hush-money scheme

One of Washington's most powerful lawmakers in the 2000s has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and evading banking laws. The former House speaker was allegedly attempting to cover up sexual misconduct.

US House Speaker Dennis Hastert, one of Washington's powerful lawmakers in the 2000s, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to federal charges of evading bank rules and lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Reversing his not-guilty plea in June, Hastert admitted to purposefully evading federal banking laws in a bid to conceal details of how the cash would be spent.

The former lawmaker, who holds the record for longest standing Republican House speaker, withdrew just below the minimum reporting requirement of $10,000 per transaction to avoid detection from federal authorities.

During his tenure as US House speaker, Hastert was one of Washington's most influential politicians

During his tenure as US House speaker, Hastert was one of Washington's most influential politicians

Hush-money to 'Individual A'

"I didn't want them to know how I intended to spend the money," Hastert said during the hearing

He is accused of withdrawing more than $1.5 million (1.35 million euros) to pay to an unidentified "Individual A," although Hastert allegedly agreed to payout $3.5 million (3.16 million euros).

However, law enforcement officials told local media that the person who received the funds was a former male student of his, adding that the cash was likely payment to conceal sexual misconduct when Hastert was a high-school wrestling coach decades ago.

Due to the plea-bargain deal, details regarding the reasons behind the payments and who the individual that received them will likely never be revealed.

Federal prosecutors recommended that he serve no more than six months in prison for striking a plea-bargain deal.

However, the presiding judge said Hastert could receive up to five years in prison when he is sentenced in February, 2016.

ls/jil (AP, AFP, Reuters)