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Rep. Jackson and his wife expected to plead guilty to corruption charges

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013 11:15 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013 11:19 a.m. CDT

(MCT) — WASHINGTON — Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., and his wife, former Chicago Alderman Sandi Jackson, are expected to plead guilty to federal charges Wednesday, when more details may emerge about an alleged crime spree in which he is accused of spending more than $750,000 in campaign cash to buy luxury items, memorabilia and other goods.

Attorneys familiar with public corruption investigations said the amount of campaign cash allegedly converted to personal use in this case is the largest of any that they can remember.

Jackson Jr., who has been largely out of the public eye for eight months, is to appear in court at 9:30 a.m. Chicago time. His wife is to appear at 1:30 p.m. Chicago time. Both Jacksons will stand before U.S. District Court Judge Robert Wilkins.

Sentencing is not expected for several weeks. Jackson Jr. faces up to five years in prison, while she faces up to three years, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.

Jackson Jr., 47, was in the House of Representatives for 17 years until he resigned last November. Sandi Jackson, 49, was a Chicago alderman from 2007 until she stepped down in January.

He is charged with conspiracy in a case involving a $43,350 men’s Rolex watch, nearly $9,600 in children’s furniture and $5,150 in cashmere clothing and furs, court papers show. She is charged with filing false tax returns for six years, most recently calendar year 2011.

When separate felony charges were filed against them Friday, their attorneys said the two would plead guilty.

Prosecutors also are seeking a $750,000 judgment against Jackson Jr. and the forfeiture of thousands of dollars of goods he purchased, including cashmere clothing, furs and an array of memorabilia from celebrities such as Michael Jackson.

Jackson Jr. began a medical leave of absence last June for what was eventually described as bipolar disorder. Although he did not campaign for re-election, he won another term last Nov. 6. He left office two weeks later.

Washington defense attorney Stan Brand, the former general counsel of the House of Representatives, said Tuesday that Jackson Jr.’s case involved the largest sum of money he’s seen in a case involving personal use of campaign money.

Washington attorney Ken Gross, a former lawyer for the Federal Election Commission, said: “Directly dipping into your campaign coffers, and spending money on personal items, I can’t recall a case where it involved this much money.”

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