Hastert pleads guilty, says he knew what he was doing was wrong

CHICAGO (AP) — Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert has pleaded guilty in a hush-money case, in a deal with prosecutors that calls for him to serve up to six months in prison.

Hastert pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

The plea marks the fall from grace of a politician who rose from obscurity in rural Illinois to become second in the line of succession to the presidency.

An indictment issued in May says the 73-year-old Republican agreed to pay someone referred to only as “Individual A” $3.5 million to hide past misconduct by Hastert.

The Associated Press and other media have cited anonymous sources in reporting the payments were to conceal claims of sexual misconduct.

Hastert says he knew he was doing wrong by trying to conceal his large cash withdrawals.

In a brief written statement, Hastert said Wednesday he didn’t want the FBI to know how he “was intending to spend the money.”

A plea deal recommends he serve up to six months in prison. Sentencing is set for Feb. 29.