Dennis Hastert, a man once second in line to the presidency, will serve his prison sentence at a facility in Minnesota.
A source confirmed to the Sun-Times that Hastert, 74, is headed to the Rochester (Minn.) Federal Medical Center; he is scheduled to surrender Wednesday to serve his 15-month prison sentence for a crime he committed while trying to cover up past sexual abuse of teenage boys.
U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Durkin ordered Hastert to surrender by 2 p.m. on that day. Hastert already has his inmate number: 47991-424, according to the federal Bureau of Prisons’ online inmate locator.
Durkin sentenced Hastert in April to 15 months in prison, calling the former speaker a “serial child molester” and forcing him to admit he sexually abused students decades ago at Yorkville High School. Hastert pleaded guilty in October to a financial crime — withdrawing a total of $952,000 from his bank accounts in a way that would avoid detection.
The assignment to a specialized medical facility in the prison system is not a surprise; while awaiting sentencing, Hastert had several health challenges. His lawyers say the former speaker suffered a fall at his home and was hospitalized for spine surgery, a severe blood infection and a stroke. Hastert “nearly died” during the ordeal, and the onetime Republican powerhouse’s chances of full recovery are unclear, his lawyers have said.
While Hastert had walked into the Dirksen Federal Courthouse last year for some court appearances, he used a wheelchair when arriving for his sentencing hearing earlier this year.
Contributing: Jon Seidel