Jesse Jackson Jr, Illinois Congressman and son of civil rights leader Jesse Jackson Sr, was sentenced to 30 months in prison and three years probation for his crime of misappropriating campaign funds. His wife, Sandi Jackson, a former Chicago Alderman, was sentenced to 12 months as well for falsifying their tax returns.
Jackson is also ordered to do 500 hours of community service, get continued mental health care and re-pay the $750,000.
Jackson pleaded guilty to the charges on February 20th of this year. He was accused of misusing $750,000 worth of campaign funds over a period of seven years. He spent the funds on luxury items such as Rolex watches, vacations, cashmere capes, fur coats, and other items.
His wife, Sandi pleaded guilty to charges of falsifying their tax returns over a six-year period.
U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson stated in court that Jackson had used campaign funds as his own “personal piggy bank.” She also pointed out, “There may be gray areas in campaign finance. This case did not come near to those areas.” She told Jackson that as a public official, that he should have lived up to a higher standard of ethics and integrity.
In court filings, the prosecutors in the case wrote, “Getting embroiled in the Blagojevich scandal did not make [Jackson] stop stealing. Instead, his reaction was to devise new ways of stealing.”
Jackson was never charged by the U.S. Justice Department for trying to buy the Senate seat vacated by President Obama when he was elected as president. This, even though a House Ethics Committee investigators concluded that there was “probable cause” that Jackson directed efforts by his friend Raghuveer Nayak to procure the senate seat for as much as $6 million, and federal prosecutors said that a witness could place Jackson at a loop restaurant when the money was offered to Governor Blagojevich for the seat.
Nayak admitted that he was instructed to do so, but Jackson said he never gave instruction to buy the seat for $6 million.
Two days before Jackson’s sentencing, Robert Blagojevich, the former governor’s brother, called on Jackson to “come clean” about the part he played in that scandal.
Both Jacksons were tearful as they asked the judge to consider the damage that would be done to their children by being given prison terms. Jesse Jackson asked the judge not to impose prison time on his wife and instead give her probation for her crimes. If that was not possible, he asked the judge to “give me her time.”
In court, Jackson said, “I misled the American people, I misled the House of Representatives. I misled the media by filing my reports. I was wrong. And I don’t fault anyone. And I hope even those who still support me don’t hold any judgment against you.”
They will not serve their sentences at the same time to minimize the hardship on their children ages thirteen and nine.
The choices picked by the Jacksons to serve their time are the Federal Prison in Montgomery, Alabama, or the Federal Correctional Istitution in Butner, North Carolina. Both prisons are two of the cushiest Federal Prisons in the nation.