Local Kendall County officials were among those who wrote letters of support for former U.S. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert. The letters were made public late last week in advance of Hastert's sentencing Wednesday in a federal hush-money case.
The 74 year-old Hastert entered a guilty plea to the charges last October.
Retired Kendall County Sheriff Richard Randall, former Kendall County Board Chairman Anne Vickery and former long-time Kendall County Board member Nancy Martin were among a group of over 40 individuals who sent letters of support for Hastert to U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Durkin. The letters are contained in court documents.
In his letter, Randall, who served as county sheriff from 1986 to 2015, praised Hastert for his public service, while Martin and Vickery asked Judge Durkin for leniency in their letters. Hastert could receive up to five years in prison but his attorneys are asking for probation.
Randall, whose letter is dated March 1, 2016, says he has known Hastert since 1968 when he Randall had just finished serving with the U.S. Air Force.
“Words cannot adequately describe my utmost respect for Mr. Hastert (as I have called him Denny) for his sincerity of caring for all people he had represented, the integrity which he showed and his devotion for duty in his actions,” Randall says in his letter. “I have been blessed to have known and worked with this professional, devoted and courteous man. Along with being a friend, and colleague I consider J. Dennis Hastert a fine example of a public servant.”
Vickery's letter is dated April 22, 2016, about a week after court documents showed evidence that Hastert had sexually abused five students while he was a coach and teacher at Yorkville High School from 1965 to 1981.
In her letter, Vickery says she has known Hastert for over 25 years and calls him “a good man with a generous heart.” Vickery lists some of Hastert's local accomplishments including securing funding for capital projects as well as restoring Kendall County's historic courthouse.
“His (Hastert) heart was always here with the people who elected him. I have seen his kindness in daily life, his generosity in giving his time and lending his name to worthy and important causes,” Vickery wrote.
Vickery closes the letter by asking Durkin to consider a lesser sentence for Hastert that would keep him out of prison.
“In closing Your Honor I would ask you for leniency and let him stay home as opposed to a sentence in a facility that would only further jeopardize his health. This stress has taken a terrible toll on him, his family and friends and we would like to keep him home. He always needed our votes but now he needs our compassion, support and redemption and he needs yours more than ever today,” Vickery concluded in her letter.
In Martin's letter, the former Kendall County Board member, points out some of the things written to the Kendall County Record in the wake of Hastert's indictment that she was concerned about.
“I was very sad when the news came out about his problem with the FBI. I also was disturbed about the news articles that came out before he had entered his plea,” she writes. “There was one person that wrote a letter bad mouthing him in our local paper, The Kendall County Record. The letter bothered me, so I also wrote a letter to the paper.”
In closing, Martin also ask that Durkin not sentence Hastert to prison.
“Please consider the good things that Dennis J. Hastert has done in his life and let God consider if he is deserving of God's Grace. This has all been very hard on Denny and on his family and putting him in jail for any amount of time will do nothing to benefit society,” Martin writes.
Federal prosecutors expect one person who has accused Dennis Hastert of sexual abuse to speak at his sentencing in his hush-money case, and the judge has indicated that he wants to consider that the former U.S. Speaker of the House lied to federal authorities, the Associated Press reported.
Prosecutor Steven Block told Judge Durkin in court April 20 that he expects someone identified in court papers as “Individual D” to make a statement at the sentencing April 27 in Chicago, according to one AP report. Court documents detail sexual abuse allegations involving at least four boys that took place at a motel or in the boys locker room at Yorkville High School.
Durkin also asked questions about Hastert lying to the FBI about an “Individual A” extorting him. Hastert pleaded guilty last fall to violating banking laws in how he structured his cash withdrawals to make payments to Individual A.