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Ex-wrestler, coach Hastert reports to federal prison hospital

Dennis Hastert, former college wrestler, high school wrestling coach and past U.S. Speaker of the House, must surrender to a federal prison hospital on Wednesday to begin serving his 15 month-sentence.

Hastert will report to the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, Minn. for evading federal banking rules in an apparent scheme to pay hush money to an unidentified individual regarding sexual assaults to members of his wrestling program which took place in the 1960s and 70s. The prison hospital is affiliated with the world-renowned Mayo Clinic -- also located in Rochester -- with doctors and nurses on site, and is known for providing high-level services to the 700-plus male inmates who require long-term physical and mental health care, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The 74-year-old Hastert has dealt with a number of health issues in recent months, including a stroke, blood infection and a spinal infection, hence his assignment to a prison medical facility.

Dennis Hastert
Articles in the Chicago Tribune and New York Times describe the facilities and rules that Hastert can expect, including a set schedule that starts at 7 a.m., frequent checks, and regulations that dictate what he wears, and when he eats, sleeps and showers. He will be allowed personal family photographs, and up to 300 minutes per month phone time to keep in touch with his family. In addition, the former Wheaton College wrestler and wrestling coach at Yorkville High School outside Chicago will have access to exercise facilities as well as a library.

Once he is released from prison, Hastert also faces two years of supervised release, which will bar him from communicating with the former wrestling team members in the case and from possessing a firearm. In addition, he will be required to participate in a treatment program for sex offenders as he is now a convicted sex offender.

Originally a Minnesota state mental hospital, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons opened the Federal Medical Center in the mid-1980s. The facility is described as eleven hospital-style buildings on 65 "secured" acres outside the city of Rochester, in southeastern Minnesota, about 90 miles south of the Twin Cities. The facility was once home to former U.S. Rep. Dan Rostenkowski of Illinois, television evangelist Jim Bakker, and past presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche. Currently, Jared Loughner, convicted in the 2011 Tucson shooting that killed six people and severely wounded then-U.S. Rep.Gabrielle Giffords, is assigned to the Rochester facility.

J. Dennis Hastert was first investigated by the FBI and IRS for making sizeable withdrawals from his bank account in 2013; federal officials were concerned that he might be the victim of an extortion plot. In May 2015, Hastert was indicted on one count of seeking to skirt bank reporting requirements and one count of lying to the FBI about the reason for his cash withdrawals. (The accusation about lying was later dropped.)

In October 2015, Hastert pleaded guilty in federal court in Chicago to withdrawing funds from several bank accounts in increments less than $10,000 to evade bank reporting rules. The money -- approximately $1.7 million -- was paid to someone from his Hastert's hometown of Yorkville, Ill., identified in federal documents only as "Individual A" but widely reported to be a former student at Yorkville High School. The school, located about 50 miles southwest of Chicago, is where Hastert taught history and coached wrestling from 1965 to 1981 before entering politics.

In April 2016, Hastert learned his sentence. A total of five individuals came forward to state that they were molested by Hastert while he was coach at Yorkville High; one now-53-year-old victim, a former wrestler, testified in person at the sentencing.

Since the indictment and subsequent events, Hastert has suffered a fall from grace as a widely respected political leader and major figure in U.S. amateur wrestling. In addition to having his name stripped from a local high school wrestling tournament, just last month Hastert was removed from the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Okla.

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