WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. was sentenced to two and a half years in prison Wednesday after pleading guilty to scheming to spend $750,000 in campaign funds on personal items.

Jackson, the 48-year-old son of civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, had been a Democratic congressman from Illinois from 1995 until he resigned last November. In an emotional speech to the judge during which he got choked up and used tissues to blow his nose, he apologized and said he wanted to “take responsibility for my actions.”

“I misled the American people,” he said.

According to court papers in the case, Jackson used campaign money to buy items including a $43,350 gold-plated men’s Rolex watch.

U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson said that as a public official Jackson was expected to “live up to a higher standard of ethics and integrity.”

Jackson’s wife, Sandra Jackson, also was to be sentenced Wednesday for filing joint federal income tax returns that understated the couple’s income. She spent $5,150 in campaign funds on fur capes and parkas, court documents show.

Jesse Jackson Jr. had pleaded guilty to the criminal charges back in February. He admitted that he and his wife used campaign credit cards to buy 3,100 personal items worth $582,772 from 2005 through April of last year — including $60,857 for personal expenditures at restaurants, nightclubs and lounges; $16,058 for personal expenditures at sports clubs and lounges; $5,814 for alcohol and $14,513 for dry cleaning.

Individual campaign credit card purchases included a $466 dinner for two of “a personal nature” at a restaurant; a washer, dryer, range and refrigerator for the Jacksons’ Chicago home; multiple flat-screen televisions, Blu-Ray DVD players and DVDs for their Washington, D.C., home; and a five-day health retreat for one of Mrs. Jackson’s relatives.

Jackson told another judge when he entered his plea that “for years I lived in my campaign.”

On Wednesday, Jackson asked that his family, in particular his son and daughter, not suffer because of his actions. He said he hoped his wife would get probation and that if that wasn’t available he would want to serve her sentence for her.

“Give me her time,” he said.

Jackson also asked to serve his time in Alabama, saying, “I wanted to make it a little inconvenient for everybody to get to me.”

Under federal sentencing guidelines, Jackson faced a potential sentencing range of 46 to 57 months in prison, and the government recommended the lower end of that — 48 months. Jackson’s lawyer, Reid H. Weingarten, wrote that the former congressman’s mental health might worsen under the stress of incarceration. Jackson has been treated for depression and bipolar disorder.

Prosecutors sought an 18-month prison sentence for Sandra Jackson, who was a Chicago alderman before she resigned this year during the federal investigation. U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen has said the government could have come up with more serious charges against her than filing false joint federal income tax returns, but used discretion because the Jacksons have children.

7 thoughts on “30 Month Prison Sentence for Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.; Wife Gets 1 Year in Prison

  1. They ain’t the only ones who have stole from their Campaigns, they will serve their time & cont to live theirs lives, just lived above their means & got overwhelmed but you stole like they all do in Politics, so nothing new.

  2. Wildflower on said:

    They should make examples out of people in positions of power and hit them with the healthiest sentences that they can and let this be a message to the rest of them that we expect more of them.

  3. Natedogii on said:

    WoW talk about being luckey for the amount of money they ran away with they could have gotten a lot more time then this hell Wesley got 3 years and he payed the tax man back!

  4. msstarr82 on said:

    FINALLY!!!! they received exactly what criminals deserve. i’m hoping that every politician that commits illegal acts of any kind (no matter how small) when PROVEN by law, serves prison time. AA politicians especially should feel major shame and serve time because in america we are so often all judged as “bad people and criminals based on the actions or inactions of one or a few AA’s. just say no and do the right thing with honor.

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