Jesse Jackson Jr pleads guilty to misusing funds

June 29th, 2013 at 20:43

´╗┐Jesse Jackson Jr pleads guilty to misusing funds

Former US congressman Jesse Jackson Jr has pleaded guilty to misusing about $750,000 in campaign funds on luxuries, such as fur capes and a Rolex watch.

Jackson Jr, 47, told US District Judge Robert Wilkins he had supplemented his income with political campaign funds for seven years.

Prosecutors said they may ask for a fiveyear prison sentence in the corruption case the maximum permitted by law while his legal team said it may argue for four or less.

Sentencing is scheduled for 28 June.

“His campaign funds were a personal piggy bank,” Ronald Machen, US attorney for Washington, told a news conference.

Jackson Jr, once considered among the US most promising black politicians, expressed regret for misusing the campaign money.

At one point, he turned around to face his family and appeared to mouth the words: “I sorry.”

“I fully understand the consequences of my actions,” Jackson Jr, who dropped out of public view last year and underwent treatment for bipolar disorder, told the judge.

Waiving his right to a jury trial, he said: “I have no interest in wasting the taxpayers time, or their money.”

Mr Jackson Sr, and other relatives and friends sat in the front rows of the Washington courtroom. The elder Jackson declined to answer reporters questions after the hearing.

The former congressman wife, Sandi, tearfully pleaded guilty at a separate hearing yesterday to filing false tax returns that did not report the campaign money as income.

She is a former member of the Chicago City Council.

She walked into the hearing holding hands with her husband just hours after he also had pleaded guilty.

Jackson Jr signed an agreement with federal prosecutors to end an investigation into his personal finances. Prosecutors said he had cooperated fully with them.

The prosecutors had accused Jackson Jr of shipping a $43,350 man Rolex watch purchased with campaign funds to his Washington address.

He also sent fur capes and parkas purchased with $5,150 in campaign funds from Beverly Hills to the home of an unnamed person, court documents said.

The government had said earlier that Jackson Jr must forfeit tens of thousands of dollars worth of celebrity memorabilia derived from the alleged crimes, including a $4,600 fedora that once belonged to the late pop star Michael Jackson.

He must also forfeit $5,000 worth of footballs signed by US presidents, $10,105 in memorabilia from martial arts film star Bruce Lee and $11,130 in Martin Luther King Jr memorabilia.