Is Jesse Jackson Jr. Heading To Prison?

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Feb. 16 2013 3:07 PM

Is Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. Heading To Prison?

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Prosecutors will reportedly recommend a sentence of between 46 and 57 months

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and his wife will be pleading guilty to charges that they conspired to spend $750,000 of campaign money on personal expenses—including a $43,000 Rolex watch. The couple’s lawyers have confirmed the news to several media outlets. It isn’t clear how long either Jackson or his wife could face behind bars but it seems highly likely that the former lawmaker could spend several years in prison.

Jackson faces up to five years and a fine of up to $250,000 for a number of charges including conspiracy to commit wire fraud, mail fraud, and making false statements, according to the Chicago Tribune. Sandi Jackson, his wife, was charged with one count of filing false tax returns and could face up to three years in prison. A former federal prosecutor tells the Associated Press that considering just how brazen the misappropriation of funds appears to have been, it seems unlikely Jackson will face less than three-and-a-half years behind bars. His wife, on the other hand, likely wouldn’t face more than a few months in prison.

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The charges against Jackson “represent a breathtaking scheme to re-appropriate donors’ money,” notes Politico. It’s not just that the money was used for frivolous luxuries, but also basic necessities, such as cleaning supplies, underwear, and toilet paper. But, yes, there were luxuries as well. And some of it truly mind boggling, such as Bruce Lee memorabilia bought between August 2007 and August 2008 for a whopping $10,105. There was also a football signed by U.S. presidents worth $5,000 and $22,700 worth of Michael Jackson memorabilia.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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