CHICAGO (AP) — Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert is due to report by Wednesday afternoon to a federal prison in southeastern Minnesota that has held other disgraced VIPs, including a former congressional colleague and a televangelist.
Starting his 15-month sentence in a hush-money case caps an already epic fall from being second in line to the presidency to an admitted child molester. Prosecutors say the 74-year-old Republican sexually abused at least four boys when he coached high school wrestling.
The nation's longest-serving GOP speaker will be known as Inmate No. 47991-424 and becomes one of the highest-ranking U.S. politicians to ever do prison time. A look at what awaits Hastert:
WHEN AND WHERE
Hastert must show up at the Rochester Federal Medical Center by 2 p.m. Wednesday. Inmates-to-be usually wait until just before the reporting deadline, but Hastert, who has been free on bond, could choose to report earlier to elude a crush of reporters and TV cameras. U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Durkin recommended this facility for the ailing Hastert during sentencing on April 27.
It isn't known whether Hastert will travel the more than 300 miles from his home in Plano, Illinois, by car or plane. When he does arrive, he'll be subject to the same protocol as other new inmates, which includes a full-body strip search for contraband. He'll trade in his street clothes for prison garb and be subject to psychological screening, the prison's 133-page inmate-orientation guide says.
The 64-acre prison specializes in health care for physically ailing or mentally ill inmates, and is near the Mayo Clinic. Hastert nearly died from a blood infection and suffered a stroke after he pleaded guilty on Oct. 28 last year, and has diabetes.
The facility is encircled by razor-wire fencing and holds around 800 inmates from all security classifications, including convicted killers. Durkin has said the prison's large population of child molesters should lessen the chances Hastert would be singled out for attacks in a prison culture in which those who hurt children are considered the lowest of the low.
Hastert's life will be highly regimented, from frequent head counts and occasional shakedown searches. Inmates are even instructed to bring their own plastic chairs to watch TV in a common room and their hands must be restrained behind their backs when getting a haircut.
Internet access and cellphone use are prohibited, and all physically able inmates must work from 7:40 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. If Hastert is required to take a job, the congressman-turned-high-paid lobbyist could end up mopping floors for as little as 25 cents an hour.
For recreation, there are billiard tables and horseshoes.
Dan Rostenkowski, a powerful U.S. House member from Illinois who pleaded guilty to mail fraud in the 1990s, spent time at Rochester.
"It was a difficult adjustment, going from days outside that were overstuffed with activity to days inside where time dragged," the Democrat later said about prison. He died in 2010.
One current inmate is Jared Lee Loughner, who is serving a life term for killing six people in a 2011 shooting that targeted and injured former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords.
TV evangelist Jim Bakker served some time at Rochester for multiple fraud convictions in the mid-1990s, but was released.
Hastert must serve at least 85 percent of his sentence, or about a year. Once released, he'll have two years' supervised release.
He'll also have to undergo sex-offender treatment, which likely includes a lie-detector test to determine how many times Hastert sexually abused kids and over what period of time.
Hastert wasn't charged with child abuse because the statutes of limitation ran out since he coached at suburban Chicago's Yorkville High School from 1965 to 1981. Instead, Hastert pleaded guilty to violating banking law in trying to pay $3.5 million in hush money to one victim referred to in court papers as "Individual A."
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