Government Recommends 4 Years in Prison for Jesse Jackson Jr.

Fox News, June 7, 2013

Prosecutors Friday recommended four years in prison for former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., following his guilty plea this year on criminal charges that he engaged in a scheme to spend $750,000 in campaign funds on personal items.

The government suggested an 18-month sentence for Jackson’s wife, Sandra, who pleaded guilty to filing false joint federal income tax returns that understated the couple’s income.

The government is also recommending that Jackson pay $750,000 in restitution to the campaign, and that Sandra Jackson makes a restitution payment of $168,000.

Because the couple has two children, prosecutors proposed that the sentences be staggered, with Sandra Jackson going first. According to the government, Sandra Jackson could be out of prison in little over a year with credit for satisfactory behavior and required pre-release custody.

Both Jacksons are scheduled to be sentenced on July 3.

Jackson, who had been a Democratic congressman from Illinois from 1995 until he resigned last November, used campaign money to buy items that included a $43,350 gold-plated men’s Rolex watch and $9,587.64 worth of children’s furniture, and his wife spent $5,150 on fur capes and parkas.

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“Before defendant or his wife stole a dime, they received substantial incomes,” the government wrote, adding that in 2011, for example, their combined income was around $344,000–putting them among the nation’s high earners.

“This offense, at its core, is about greed and entitlement: defendant wanting more than even his substantial resources could afford him and believing he was entitled to both the items desired and campaign funds to purchase those items,” the government said.

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In a 22-page statement filed by prosecutors in February, Jackson admitted that he and his wife used campaign credit cards to buy 3,100 personal items worth $582,772.58 from 2005 through April 2012. Personal expenditures at restaurants, nightclubs and lounges amounted to $60,857.04. Personal expenditures at sports clubs and lounges were $16,058.91, including maintaining a family membership at a gym. Spending for alcohol was $5,814.43. Personal spending for dry cleaning was $14,513.42.

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