On Wednesday morning, former Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. plead guilty to using about $750,000 of campaign funds for personal expenses that ranged from a Rolex watch to Bruce Lee and Michael Jackson memorabilia. A copy of the indictment against Jackson can be viewed here.
Jackson told U.S. District Judge Robert L. Wilkins, “For years I lived off my campaign. I used money that should have been for campaign purposes for personal purposes.”
The former Congressman’s wife, Sandi Jackson, a former Chicago Alderman, also pleaded guilty to a single charge of filing a false tax return in connection with the fraud.
“Prosecutors say the couple enjoyed a life of luxury with campaign cash. About 3,100 personal purchases were made on campaign credit cards, totaling $582,772.58, prosecutors said.
“These expenditures included high-end electronic items, collector’s items, clothing, food and supplies for daily consumption, movie tickets, health club dues, personal travel and personal dining expenses,” the court filing states.
Jackson Jr. personally opened a bank account under the name “Jesse Jackson Jr. for Congress” in January 2006, then the following year withdrew $43,350 to buy a gold Rolex watch, according to documents filed with Jackson Jr.’s plea agreement state that.
Other expenses included more than $4,000 on a cruise and $243 at a Build-a-Bear workshop. “Records from Best Buy reveal that defendant purchased multiple flat-screen televisions, multiple Blu-Ray DVD players, numerous DVD’s for his Washington, D.C. home,” the documents state.
Prosecutors said $60,000 was spent on restaurants, nightclubs and lounges; $31,700 on personal airfare; $16,000 on sports clubs and lounges; $17,000 on tobacco shops; $5,800 on alcohol; $14,500 on dry cleaning; $8,000 on grocery stores and $6,000 at drug stores.”
Upon leaving the courtroom, Jackson reportedly told a reporter, “Tell everybody back home I’m sorry I let ’em down, OK?”
Sentencing guidelines in the plea deal for Jackson call for a prison term between 46 and 57 months. Former Representative Jackson served in Congress from December 1995 until November 21 of last year after having won re-election despite being treated for mental illness during the summer.