Former Illinois congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. has been sentenced to 30 months in jail for misusing $750,000 in campaign funds. He tearfully told a court today, “I misled the American people, I misled the House of Representatives,” The Washington Post reports. He asked that he serve his time in Alabama in order to be “as far away from everybody for awhile.”
Jackson used the money to fund a lavish lifestyle that include Rolex watches and furs. Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves noted that Jackson and his wife, Sandra Stevens Jackson, made $350,000 in 2011. She has been sentenced to 12 months in jail.
“The Jacksons admitted using campaign credit cards to make approximately 3,100 personal purchases over seven years starting in August 2005. Among the expenses: a $466 dinner at the Mandarin Oriental’s CityZen restaurant; $10,000 for multiple flat-screen TVs and DVD players from Best Buy; and $2,300 in transportation services at Disney World,” writes WaPo.
Jackson’s attorney asked for a sentence shorter than four years because the couple have two children ages 13 and 9. There are also concerns about his mental health, which has been an issue for months. He resigned from his position in November 2012. Prior to his resignation, Jackson disappeared for weeks and ultimately announced that he was being treated for depression and bipolar disorder. He had been in Congress for 17 years.
Today’s sentence comes after a plea agreement, bringing to a close an investigation that began when authorities looked into whether he had any involvement with formere Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s scheme to sell an empty Senate seat he was responsible for filling on an interim basis. Jackson was not charged with anything related to that case.
Federal prosecutors were asking for an 18-month sentence for Jackson’s wife, and $168,550 in restitution. The 48-year-old Jackson will have to turn over $750,000.
Rev. Jesse Jackson and other supporters and family members were in the courtroom today.