Judge in Hastert Case|Will Stay Put After All

     CHICAGO (CN) – U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin will hear the case against former Speaker of the House of Representatives Dennis Hastert after all.
     Durkin disqualified himself earlier this week, citing various conflict-of-interest grounds, but gave the parties the opportunity to waive the recusal. Both did in brief letters today, with no further explanation.
     The regulation under which recusals may be waived requires that the judge not be made aware of any party’s objections, but here there were none.
     Hastert, 73, was indicted last month in connection to a purported $3.5 million hush-money deal to conceal the longest-serving Republican House speaker’s alleged prior misconduct with a person identified only as “Individual A.”
     While the seven-page indictment sheds little light on Individual A, The New York Times has reported that a man told the FBI that Hastert paid him off after “inappropriately” touching him decades ago, when Hastert was a high school wrestling coach.
     Hastert was a high school teacher and coach in Yorkville from 1965 to 1981, and the indictment describes “Individual A as “a resident of Yorkville, Ill.,” who has known Hastert for most of his or her life.
     Prosecutors say the payoffs began in 2010, when A and Hastert “discussed past misconduct by defendant against Individual A that had occurred years earlier.”
     Hastert has worked as a lobbyist since retiring from Congress in 2009 – the year before the alleged payoffs began. He began his first term in 1986 and became speaker in 1999 after Newt Gingrich stepped down, facing ethics problems.
     The former speaker is charged with structuring $952,000 in cash withdrawals to evade currency-transaction reports, and lying to the FBI about it.

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