Jesse Jackson Jr. Sentenced To 2.5 Years In Prison
A federal judge has sentenced former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. to 30 months in prison, following his guilty plea that he engaged in a scheme to spend $750,000 in campaign funds on personal items.
U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson said Wednesday that as a public official Jackson was supposed to live up to a higher standard.
Jackson, 48, the son of civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, had been a Democratic congressman from Illinois from 1995 until he resigned last November.
According to court papers in the case, he used campaign money to buy items including a $43,350 gold-plated men's Rolex watch.
Meanwhile, Jackson's wife, former Chicago alderman Sandra Jackson, was sentenced Wednesday one year in prison for filing false joint federal income tax returns that understated the income the couple received.
Mrs. Jackson admitted in a guilty plea earlier this year that from mid-2006 through mid-October of last year, she failed to report $600,000 in income that she and her husband earned from 2005 to 2011.
Judge Berman says the former congressman can serve his prison time first. That will allow one parent to care for the couple's children.
They have two children, a 13-year-old daughter and a 9-year-old son. Defense attorneys asked the judge to let them stagger their sentences in the interest of their children.
Earlier Wednesday, the former congressman asked the judge to give Sandi Jackson probation.
But the judge criticized the Jacksons for using campaign funds as a "personal piggybank'' and covering up the crime.
The former congressman could begin serving his term by year's end.
Gov. Pat Quinn called it "a sad day'' for Jackson and his family. But he added, "Justice has to be served.''
U.S. Rep. Danny Davis says he'd hoped Jackson would get probation.
David Morrison of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform says other politicians should take note of the consequences to Jackson.
And Chicago political consultant Delmarie Cobb says the sentence was fair.
She says longtime supporters feel betrayed but that they'll give Jackson a chance to make his mark again after he's served his time. She says Jackson deserves "a second chapter in life.''