Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert was recently sentenced to 15 months in prison and required to pay a $250,000 fine as part of his sentencing for financial crimes related to prior repeated sexual abuse. Specifically, Hastert skirted banking laws in order to make hush-money payments to a man that he had allegedly sexually abused. The laws in issue make it a criminal offense if an individual or financial institution does not follow the required reporting and recordkeeping requirements for monetary transactions, including reporting currency transactions exceeding $10,000 per transaction.
Hastert intentionally circumvented or manipulated his withdrawals to pay the hush-money in order to fall below the $10,000 reporting threshold which, in turn, circumvented the Bank Secrecy Act’s reporting requirements. The Bank Secrecy Act has been on the books since 1970, and it was not a crime to intentionally circumvent or manipulate cash transactions to fall below the $10,000 reporting threshold until 1986 when the Money Laundering Control Act was enacted. The Money Laundering Control Act of 1986 made it a crime for a person to structure a transaction or a series of transactions in order to evade the $10,000 reporting threshold.
Do you think Hastert should go to jail because of his withdrawal of money structured in a way to avoid the $10,000 reporting threshold? Or, should he go to jail because of prior sexual abuse, or both?