Jesse Jackson Jr., wife await sentencing for misusing campaign funds

Wednesday, August 14, 2013 - 10:00pm

 Former congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. and his wife, Sandi, will be sentenced Wednesday for misusing about $750,000 in campaign funds.

The pair pleaded guilty in February to various changes Jackson Jr. to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, and false statements; and his wife to filing false tax returns.

The former Illinois congressman admitted to years of using campaign money to pay for things such as vacations, furs and Michael Jackson memorabilia.

"Guilty, your honor," Jackson told U.S. District Judge Robert Wilkins in February. "I used monies that should have been used for campaign purposes."

Prosecutors have recommended a four-year sentence for Jackson and an 18-month sentence plus a $168,550.01 restitution fee for his wife. The defense is seeking a more lenient term for Jackson and probation for his wife.

The defense team also requested that Jackson be jailed at federal correctional facilities either in Montgomery, Alabama, or Butner, North Carolina, where Bernard Madoff is serving his 150-year sentence for investment fraud. Both facilities are minimum security.

The lawyers noted their proximity to Washington, where the couple's children live, as the reason for the request.

Prosecutors have also kept the couple's children, ages 9 and 13, in mind, suggesting the Jacksons serve their sentences consecutively so that one parent is able to be home at all times.

According to court records, Jackson misused about $750,000 in campaign funds from August 2005 through July 2012. Some of the eye-popping spending included $60,000 at Antiques of Nevada, where Jackson bought two hats belonging to the late singer Michael Jackson costing more than $8,000; a $5,000 football signed by U.S. presidents; and memorabilia involving the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and martial artist Bruce Lee.

Jackson and his wife also bought Blu-Ray DVD players from Best Buy, dresses and jewelry from a small boutique and fur capes and parkas from a Beverly Hills, California, furrier.

Jackson served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 until 2012, when he took a medical leave of absence and never returned.

His lawyers later stated he suffers from bipolar disorder.

Outside the courtroom, Jesse Jackson Sr., Jackson's father and a civil rights leader, told reporters that his son was "unbelievably sick" a year ago, but is now doing better.

"I don't know how I missed so many signs," the elder Jackson said.


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