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Monday, June 17, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Jesse Jackson Jr. Admits to Looting Campaign Coffers

WASHINGTON (CN) - Former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. pleaded guilty Wednesday to defrauding his re-election campaigns of $750,000, and his wife pleaded guilty to the cover-up.

The son of the famous civil rights activist, Jackson had represented Illinois's 2nd congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 until his resignation in 2012.

Jackson, 47, admitted that the funds he diverted from his campaign went toward personal expenses, including jewelry, fur capes and parkas, high-end electronics, celebrity memorabilia, furniture, kitchen appliances and a home renovation project, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia.

In trying to conceal seven years of illegal activities, Jackson filed false and misleading reports with the Federal Election Commission and the U.S. House of Representatives.

He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, mail fraud and false statements.

Jackson's wife, Sandra Stevens Jackson, 49, a former Chicago alderman, pleaded guilty in a separate proceeding to filing false tax returns for her role in the scheme.

Judge Robert Wilkins scheduled sentencing of the former congressman for June 28, 2013. While the charge to which he has pleaded is punishable by five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, prosecutors said the agreed applicable range is 46 to 57 months in prison and a fine between $10,000 and $100,000.

Jackson's wife faces sentencing on July 1, 2013, also by Judge Wilkins. Her tax charge carries up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, but the government says the applicable range for this offense under federal sentencing guidelines is 18 to 24 months in prison and a fine between $4,000 and $40,000.

Jackson Jr.'s plea requires him to pay any court-ordered restitution and forfeit about $750,000 in proceeds and property from the scheme.

"Among other items, he must forfeit a mink cashmere cape; a mink reversible parka; a guitar signed by pop legend Michael Jackson; and various memorabilia associated with historic figures and various celebrities," prosecutors said in a statement.

Evidence allegedly showed that the Jackson's fraud scheme ran from August 2005 through April 2012.

Prosecutors said Jackson's wife worked on the re-election campaigns as a treasurer from about January 2005 to about November 2006; a consultant from at least 2008 to about November 2012; and a campaign manager since 2011.

The statements makes reference to a congressional staffer referred to only as "Person A" whom Rep. Jackson provided with campaign funds to benefit his family.

This staffer worked as an assistant treasurer for the campaign from about January 2005 through about November 2006; a treasurer from about January 2007 through about June 2008; and a staff member for Jackson's Washington, D.C., congressional office, starting in or around June 2008.

Jackson's father, the Baptist minister Jesse Jackson Sr., had served as a shadow U.S. senator for the District of Columbia from 1991 to 1997. He sought the Democratic presidential nomination unsuccessfully in 1984 and 1989.

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