Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert released from prison to halfway house

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, 75, has been released from a federal prison hospital in Minnesota and transferred to a halfway house in Chicago, federal records show.

Hastert pleaded guilty last year to violating anti-money laundering laws in a case stemming from hush money he paid to conceal sexual abuse he committed of students while he was a high school teacher and coach several decades ago.

Prosecutors sought a sentence of up to six months for the ailing ex-speaker, but a federal judge in Chicago more than doubled that, giving him a 15-month term and condemning as "unforgivable" his sexual liaisons with boys in rural Yorkville, Ill.

No criminal charges directly relating to the sexual abuse were ever filed because the statute of limitations on such acts ran out some time ago. However, at least two men claiming abuse have filed civil suits against Hastert, including one who is demanding that the former speaker finish paying nearly $3.5 million he promised in connection with a pledge to keep quiet about the activity.

A Bureau of Prisons online prisoner locator had listed Hastert’s release date until recently as July 23, but now shows it as August 16.

Hastert served most of his sentence at the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, Minn. As recently as Monday, the online resource showed him serving there, but by Tuesday morning it indicated he’d been moved to a so-called residential re-entry center in Chicago.

Hastert was the longest serving Republican House speaker, putting in eight years in the post between 1999 and 2007.

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