Former congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. gets 30 months in jail
Former Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., convicted of misusing $750,000 in campaign contributions, was sentenced to 30 months in jail yesterday.
His wife, a former Chicago city councilwoman, was sentenced to a year in prison for falsifying tax returns.
Jackson, a former Democratic representative and the son of civil rights leader the Reverend Jesse Jackson Sr., apologized before U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced him on Wednesday.
Jackson, 48, had pleaded guilty in February to misusing about $750,000 in campaign funds on luxuries such as fur capes, celebrity memorabilia, mounted elk heads and a Rolex watch.
"I misled the American people," Jackson said at the hearing. "I also want to apologize to my dad and my mother," Jackson said, wiping away tears. "I take responsibility for my actions and I'm very sorry for what I have done," he said.
His wife, Sandi, a former Chicago city council member, was sentenced to one year for falsifying tax returns that failed to report the campaign money as income. The couple has two children.
The judge ordered Jackson Jr. to report to prison on or after November 1 and for Sandi Jackson to report to prison 30 days after he is released to reduce the impact on the children.
"I stand before you today asking for mercy," Sandi Jackson said, adding that "my heart breaks every day with the pain it has caused my babies."
Jackson Jr. asked on Monday that the judge recommend to the Bureau of Prisons that he serve his time at a federal prison in Montgomery, Alabama, because it would allow him to be nearer to his wife and children who live in Washington D.C. The judge said Wednesday she would make that recommendation.
Jackson Jr. served in Congress from 1995 until he resigned after re-election last year, citing health reasons.
He disappeared from public view in the summer of 2012 and speculation swirled for weeks about his condition. At first Jackson Jr. said he was being treated for exhaustion, and his doctor said in July 2012 said he was being treated for a "mood disorder."
He eventually was treated for at least six weeks at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, for bipolar disorder.
Jackson Jr. also was sentenced to three years supervised release and ordered to perform 500 hours of community service. Sandi Jackson was given 12 months supervised release and 200 hours of community service.
Prosecutors had recommended a sentence of four years for the ex-congressman and 18 months for Sandi Jackson.
Jackson was caught up in the "pay for play" scandal that brought down impeached former governor Blagojevich, but was never charged. He was heard on a wiretap offering cash to Blagojevich's re-election campaign in return for getting the governor to appoint him to the senate seat vacated when Barack Obama was elected president.
So ends the career of one of the Democratic party's rising stars. Or does it? Once out of prison, he will no doubt land on his feet. And who knows? Judging by the resurrection of the careers of Anthony Weiner and Elliot Spitzer, anything can happen if you're a disgraced Democratic politician.