Dennis Hastert sentencing delayed due to health issues

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A federal judge delayed former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert's sentencing. (WLS)

A federal judge delayed former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert's sentencing. His attorneys painted a very bleak picture of his health in court Thursday. They said he nearly died last fall.

The 74-year-old Republican suffered a severe spinal and blood infection and a stroke, shortly after pleading guilty to breaking banking laws.

Hastert is accused of paying someone $3.5 million to hide "prior misconduct." Anonymous sources told the Associated Press and other media outlets that Hastert wanted to hide claims that he sexually molested someone decades earlier while he was a wrestling coach in Illinois.

Hastert's lawyers said he can now feed himself and talk. But other than that, he's unable to do much else. He has also lost function in the lower half of his body. His wife is caring for him around the clock.

Attorneys asked the court to delay Hastert's sentencing date because his ongoing illness has hampered his ability to help prepare for it. The judge wanted to know if he could understand words and speak. His attorneys said yes.

Prosecutors didn't object to the delay, but said the victims deserve closure as soon as possible. They recommend he serve no more than six months in prison. Hastert's lawyers are likely to ask for probation.

Hastert's doctor said a prognosis for a full recovery won't be known until the end of February.

A new sentencing date has been set for April 8. Hastert will likely be in a wheelchair at the hearing.
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