WASHINGTON (AP) — Former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. entered a guilty plea Wednesday in federal court to criminal charges that he engaged in an alleged scheme to spend $750,000 in campaign funds on personal items.
Both the former Illinois congressman and his wife, Sandra, had agreed to plead guilty in deals with federal prosecutors. Jackson’s guilty plea was to a conspiracy charge. His wife was due in court later on a charge of filing false joint federal income tax returns for the years 2006 through 2011 that knowingly understated the income the couple received. The Jacksons were appearing separately before U.S. District Judge Robert L. Wilkins.
Both Jackson and his wife face maximum penalties of several years in prison; he also faces hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and forfeitures.
Jackson, 47, used campaign money to buy items including a $43,350 gold-plated men’s Rolex watch and $9,587.64 worth of children’s furniture, according to court papers filed in the case. His wife spent $5,150 on fur capes and parkas, the document said.
When prosecutors charged the couple last Friday, the ex-congressman said he fully accepts the responsibility for the improper decisions and mistakes he has made. Tom Kirsch, an attorney for Jackson’s wife, said she has signed a plea agreement with federal prosecutors and would plead guilty to one tax count.