Jesse Jackson Jr. was sentenced to one year and eight months in prison for spending over half a million dollars of his campaign funds for personal use. Jackson, a former congressional member and his wife, a former Chicago alderman, will repay $750,000.00 that was stolen from the fund. Jackson’s wife Sandra Jackson pleaded guilty to a tax charge and was sentenced to one year in jail.
“I let a lot of people down,” commented Jackson after blowing his nose and sobbing in court. He apologized for his actions and gave a recommendation to the courts. He desired to be placed in seclusion for his deeds and suggested he be imprisoned in Alabama. “So I can be as far away from everyone,” he said in his court hearings.
Federal prosecutors initially suggested that Jackson be required to do four years of prison time but the courts relented to the 18 month term. The U.S. Bureau of Prisons will determine where Jackson will serve his sentence. It is not known why Jackson recommended that he be imprisoned in southern prison installations. His lawyers also revealed that he requested imprisonment in North Carolina for completion of his prison time.
Jesse Jackson Jr., 48, appeared remorseful in court as he was sentenced for stealing from his own campaign fund. He repeatedly wiped tears from his face, while his mother and father looked on during the proceedings. His father showed concern by tearing up at moments; however Jackson’s mother was stoic and showed little emotion in court.
It is believed that Jackson spent a portion of the money on gold-platted Rolex watches and fur overcoats for his wife. It was reported Jackson paid for trips to Martha’s Vineyard and paid for expensive dry cleaning services. Expenditures were as minimal as household items like tooth paste from Costco itemized on records.
“No one is celebrating today,” said Jackson’s lawyer, Reid Weingarten. “The fall from grace is complete.” Jackson had been notably suffering from a mental breakdown months before the court proceedings. “A year ago, I thought we might have lost him,” the Jackson senior said to reporters. “He is still recovering.”
Jackson’s lawyers attributed his criminal behavior to his mental condition. Jackson had been admitted to the Mayo clinic for treatment and was treated for a bipolar disorder. Lawyers contended that his decision making was impaired by his sickness. Critics have put forth the notion that the entire act was a ruse to avoid a lengthy prison sentence. Records show the criminal activity went on for years as Jackson used campaign funds to supplement the family’s income.
Jesse Jackson Jr. betrayed the trust of his constituents and was sentenced to prison. The courts exhibited leniency in staggering the sentences of the Jackson couple for the sake of the children. Sandra Jackson will start her sentence a month after her husband is released from prison. “My heart breaks everyday with the pain it has caused my babies,” said Sandra Jackson in court. “It’s not the government that put your children in this position,” said the judge in handing down her prison sentence.
By Thomas Barr