Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert pleaded guilty on Wednesday to federal charges of evading bank rules about large cash transactions in a deal reached with prosecutors in a hush-money case stemming from allegations of sexual misconduct.

Federal prosecutors recommended a sentence of zero to six months in prison for Hastert, but the judge said he could potentially sentence him to up to a maximum of five years and a fine of up to $250,000 when he is sentenced in February.

The plea marks a dramatic downfall for someone who once ranked among the country's most powerful politicians.