- Associated Press - Thursday, December 17, 2015

CHICAGO (AP) - The latest on former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s hospitalization (all times local):

5 p.m.

Legal experts say that Dennis Hastert’s hospitalization is likely to delay his Feb. 29 sentencing and the illness could influence the federal judge’s decision on a punishment in his hush-money case.

A lawyer for the former U.S. House speaker said Thursday that the 73-year-old Republican was hospitalized in November and had a stroke. The attorney also said Hastert may not get out of the hospital until early 2016.

Hastert pleaded guilty to evading federal bank laws in October. A plea deal recommends a sentence of no more than six months in prison.

Gal Pissetzky (puh-SET’-skee) is a Chicago defense attorney with no link to Hastert’s case. He says its likely Hastert’s lawyers will request a delay in sentencing and that they may wait until February.

Former prosecutor Jeff Cramer says judges frequently send ailing defendants to prisons with medical facilities. But he said that a defense argument for probation over prison may be more persuasive given Hastert’s stroke.

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3:45 p.m.

A friend of Dennis Hastert says her husband spoke to the former U.S. House speaker on the telephone last week, but that Hastert did not mention suffering a stroke.

Dodie Ingemunson (IHNG’-muhn-suhn) tells The Associated Press that Hastert told her husband, Dallas Ingemunson, that the Republican was suffering from sepsis and had undergone a “couple of back surgeries.”

She says she knew Hastert had been in the hospital “a while.”

Hastert’s attorney said Thursday in a statement that the 73-year-old had suffered a stroke more than a month ago and that he will likely be released from the hospital in early 2016.

The former speaker is awaiting sentencing in a federal hush-money case.

Dallas Ingemunson told The Associated Press in November that Hastert had been admitted to an Aurora hospital but did not know the extent of his medical issues beyond a “foot problem.”

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3:35 p.m.

A letter sent to the presiding federal judge in former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s hush-money case briefly mentions a hospital stay in asking for leniency at sentencing.

The letter, posted on the court docket Wednesday, is from C. William Pollard, who describes himself as a longtime friend of Hastert’s.

On Thursday, Hastert’s lawyer said in a statement that the Illinois Republican was hospitalized in November and has had a stroke. The 73-year-old Illinois Republican is due to be sentenced Feb. 29 after pleading guilty to evading bank reporting laws.

Pollard wrote in the letter that “in light of” Hastert’s “recent hospital stay,” he hoped the sentence would be probation. He adds that Hastert “was known as a man of integrity.”

Letters to the court sent earlier by others urged the judge to send Hastert to prison.

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2:10 p.m.

Dennis Hastert’s lawyer says in an emailed statement that the former U.S. house speaker who is awaiting sentencing in a hush-money case had a stroke more than a month ago and has been hospitalized since then.

Washington-based attorney Tom Green said Thursday that the Illinois Republican had a stroke, was treated for a potentially life-threatening infection and had two back surgeries.

Green also said there’s hope Hastert will be released early in 2016, but the five-sentence statement provided few other details.

The 73-year-old Hastert pleaded guilty Oct. 28 to a felony count of evading bank reporting laws in a hush-money scheme. His sentencing date is Feb. 29.

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1:50 p.m.

Dennis Hastert’s lawyer says in a statement that the former U.S. House Speaker had a stroke during the first week of November and has been hospitalized since then.

Attorney Tom Green said in a statement reported Thursday by Politico that Hastert had a stroke, has been treated for sepsis and had two back surgeries while in the hospital.

The 73-year-old Hastert pleaded guilty Oct. 28 to a felony count of evading bank reporting laws in a hush-money scheme.

In the written plea agreement, the Illinois Republican directly acknowledged for the first time that he sought to pay someone $3.5 million to hide misconduct by Hastert against that person dating back several decades - about the time the longtime GOP leader was a high school wrestling coach.

The Illinois Republican’s sentencing date is Feb. 29.

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