White-Collar Crime

Jesse Jackson and his wife tearfully apologize for misusing $750K in campaign funds, both get time

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Updated: Disgraced former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and his wife, who until recently was a member of Chicago’s governing body, tearfully apologized on Wednesday for misusing $750,000 in campaign funds to pay for luxury items and cover other personal expenses.

The 48-year-old ex-Congressman from Illinois asked a federal judge in Washington, D.C., to give his wife probation, so that she could continue to care for the couple’s two children, ages 9 and 13. He got a two-and-a-half-year prison term and three years of probation from U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson (no relation to the defendants), according to the Associated Press and WLS.

Meanwhile, Sandra Jackson, 49, asked for mercy for herself, another Associated Press article recounts.

She got a 12-month term, a CBS Chicago report says.

Her lawyer, chairman Dan Webb of Winston & Strawn, had sought probation, but a columnist for the Chicago Tribune said in an opinion video that the two Jacksons nonetheless had done well at sentencing on the felony convictions.

“Try stealing $7,000 from a bank. Try stealing $2,000 from a gas station. See what happens,” suggested John Kass, who apparently felt that the sentences were a slap on the wrist compared to what ordinary defendants convicted of crimes involving much smaller amounts of money could expect to get.

His examples, however, apparently are robberies, which typically have resulted in stiffer sentences for defendants than white-collar crimes that do not involve threats, or perceived threats, of violence to a victim.

Prosecutors had sought 18 months for Sandra Jackson and four years for her husband.

A forfeiture determination will be made later.

“It is not court that put your children in this position,” the judge noted, in response to arguments that both parents will now be imprisoned. “It’s going to be more difficult for the kids before this is over.”

Earlier Associated Press and Chicago Tribune stories provide additional details.

See also:

ABAJournal.com: “Jesse Jackson Jr. pleads guilty, admits living off his campaign”

Chicago Tribune: “Charity welcomes Sandi Jackson if court orders community service”

Updated at 5:35 p.m. to include John Kass comments.

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