Criminal Justice

Jesse Jackson Jr. pleads guilty, admits living off his campaign

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Former Illinois congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. wiped away tears during a federal court hearing in Washington, D.C., this morning as he pleaded guilty to conspiring to divert a quarter-million dollars in campaign funds for personal use.

Sentencing guidelines call for a sentence of 46 to 57 months in prison, report the New York Times, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune. The Illinois Democrat broke down in tears several times, using tissues supplied by his lawyers, according to the Sun-Times account.

“For years I lived off my campaign,” Jackson said. “I used money that should have been for campaign purposes for personal purposes.”

Prosecutors are seeking forfeiture of goods purchased with campaign funds, the Tribune says. Jackson is accused of buying a men’s Rolex watch worth more than $43,000, cashmere clothing and furs, and memorabilia from Michael Jackson, Bruce Lee and Martin Luther King Jr.

Sentencing is set for June 28. Jackson’s lawyer, Reid Weingarten, says he plans to introduce evidence of medical conditions that could be mitigating factors. Jackson has been treated for bipolar disorder.

Jackson’s wife, former Chicago alderman Sandi Jackson, is scheduled to plead guilty this afternoon to a charge of filing false tax returns.

Prior coverage: “Federal charges filed against Jesse Jackson Jr., wife”

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