Judge Chides Repentant Hastert Reporters

     CHICAGO (CN) – An ABC and an NBC reporter’s attempts to interview beleaguered former House Speaker Dennis Hastert do not merit contempt citations, a federal judge ruled.
     Hastert, the 73-year-old prominent Republican has pleaded not guilty to charges of evading currency-transaction reports with structured cash withdrawals and lying to the FBI about it.
     Reports indicate that the withdrawals served as hush money for an unnamed individual on a high school wrestling team the former congressman once coached who accused Hastert of touching him inappropriately.
     Court security apparently complained last month that ABC News’ Brian Ross and NBC News’ Gabe Gutierrez, two members of the gaggle of reporters covering the case, approached Hastert outside the designated media area.
     A June 11 order noted that Gutierrez ran “in the wrong direction through a closed security check point in an attempt to interview a criminal defendant in the courthouse lobby.”
     Though U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin is presiding over the Hastert prosecution, the reporters faced a separate hearing last week before U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo.
     Gutierrez noted at that hearing that this was the first time he had covered a proceeding in Illinois federal court and that he was unaware of the full scope of the rules he violated.
     “This court accepts respondent Guterrez’s apology,” Castillo said in a final order Thursday.
     Castillo warned that “future violations by any representative of NBC news may result in a future, limited ban of NBC representatives from the courthouse.”
     The judge entered a corresponding ruling dismissing charges against Ross.

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