Jesse Jackson Jr. and wife to plead guilty to fraud

Former congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. will plead guilty to charges filed accusing him of misusing campaign funds.
Former congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. will plead guilty to charges filed accusing him of misusing campaign funds. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Former Chicago congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., son of the famed civil rights leader, plans to plead guilty to charges filed on Friday accusing him of misusing $750,000 in campaign funds, his attorney said.

Jackson’s wife, Sandi Jackson, has also agreed to plead guilty to a related charge of filing false tax returns, according to her attorneys. She resigned her seat on the Chicago city council last month.

Both Jacksons, once considered one of the most powerful couples in the city, issued statements accepting responsibility.

“I offer no excuses for my conduct and I fully accept my responsibility for the improper decisions and mistakes I have made,” said Jesse Jackson Jr, a Democrat, in his statement. He faces fraud and conspiracy charges.

Jackson’s wife said in a statement that she was “deeply sorry” for her actions.

Once considered one of the most promising black politicians in the United States, Jesse Jackson Jr. resigned his congressional seat on November 21 for health reasons, acknowledging at the time that he was under investigation by the FBI.

Jackson was once talked about as having the potential to become the first black president, noted Andy Shaw, president and CEO of the Chicago-based Better Government Association.

“Instead of heading for the White House, he is heading for the big house, and that is an enormous fall from grace,” Shaw said in a radio interview on WBBM-AM.

Jackson’s father, a former presidential candidate, was not immediately available for comment.

Prosecutors said at least seven people were involved in the scheme to divert campaign funds to personal uses.

Among the accusations is that Jesse Jackson, Jr. shipped a $43,350 men’s Rolex watch purchased with campaign funds to his D.C. address. He also shipped fur capes and parkas purchased with $5,150 in campaign funds to the Beverly Hills home of an unnamed person, the documents said.

As part of the case, the government said Jackson must forfeit tens of thousands of dollars in celebrity memorabilia derived from the alleged crimes, including a $4,600 fedora that once belonged to late pop star Michael Jackson.

Under federal sentencing guidelines, if convicted, Jackson faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and his wife three years, but defendants who accept responsibility are typically sentenced to much less than the maximum term.


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