Federal prosecutors are recommending that Jesse Jackson Jr. be sentenced to four years in prison for alleged corruption. Jackson, who stepped down as Congressman earlier in the year, is accused of misappropriating $750,000 in campaign funds to cover his lavish personal expenses.
In addition to prison, the government wants Jackson to pay a restitution fee to cover the money. “When one views the Defendant’s history and characteristics, his financial condition at the time of the conspiracy, the nature and circumstances of the offense, the seriousness of the offense, and the need for avoiding unwarranted sentencing disparities, there can be little doubt that a sentence of 48 months is appropriate,” prosecutors wrote in a 45-page sentencing memo filed Friday (June 7).
An 18-month sentence was recommended for his wife, Alderman Sandi Jackson, also accused in the scandal. “[Sandi Jackson] was not simply a beneficiary of her husband’s theft,” they added. “[She] stole. In fact, she stole a lot.”
Prosecutors pointed out that the Jacksons were taking money even though the Congressman’s salary placed him in the Top 10 percent of all households in America.
A federal probe into his finances was the tip of the iceberg in a trying year for the politician. Last June, Jackson went on leave for what was later announced as treatment for bipolar disorder. He checked into the Mayo Clinic, won reelection in November, and stepped down weeks later.
His father, Rev. Jesse Jackson penned a letter to the judge asking for leniency. “I am not sure at what point Jesse Jr. began to foil his own ambitions,” the elder Jackson wrote. “Whether the depression began to set in, whether the duodenal bariatric surgery, which requires strict medical discipline, or where the bipolar disorder fit into the trajectory. But I do know that when we as a family realized this, he has been under substantial medical treatment for recovery and in honoring his doctor’s prescription.”
With the exception of a robocall to constituents, and brief statements at random, the father of two has not opened up about his money scandal or health status.
He and his wife will be sentenced on July 3. The couple struck a plea deal back in February.