A federal judge sentenced former congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. to 30 months, or 2-and-a-half years, in prison for misuse of campaign funds.
His wife, former Chicago alderman Sandi Jackson, was sentenced to 12 months for tax fraud. Judge Amy Berman Jackson also ordered her to pay $22,000 in restitution, which is the amount she spent from her campaign as alderman.
The judge will allow Sandi to serve her sentence after Jesse completes his sentence. Sandi is to surrender 30 days after Jesse is released from a facility.
The judge didn’t agree with this but she said she is doing it to “accommodate” the family.
Sandi sentenced: “I stand before you today asking for mercy”
Before Sandi’s sentence was handed down, Judge Amy Berman Jackson said that even if Sandi didn’t know everything her husband was doing, she spent $22,000 from her aldermanic campaign fund on bedding, spas and shoes.
Sandi also read a short statement in court: “I grieve everyday…over the mistakes… I stand before you today asking for mercy.”
In February, Sandi pleaded guilty to tax fraud. She stepped down from her 7th Ward Alderman position in January.
Judge to Jesse Jackson Jr: People say you’re “guilty of bad acts but you are not a bad man”
“This is a very sad day and a difficult case,” said Judge Amy Berman Jackson before she handed Jesse Jackson Jr.’s sentence down. She said she finds he is “genuinely committed” to his work in Congress. But, she said he wrote checks and credit charges more than 3,000 times.
Talking about Jackson’s illness, she said “this disorder can not begin to explain” the multiple purchases.
“You are a member of Congress who never missed a vote,” the judge said, adding that she received letters from people implying Jackson is “guilty of bad acts but you are not a bad man.”
“But as a public official you are supposed to live up to a higher standard of integrity,” she said.
During his sentencing hearing, Jackson addressed the court and admitted fault: “I misled the American people; I misled the House of Representatives; I misled the media…I was wrong. I don’t fault anyone.”
The judge also ruled that Jackson does not have to pay restitution to his former campaign because it is now defunct.
In February, the 48-year-old pleaded guilty to using $750,000 of his campaign money for personal expenses—in many cases, on extravagant items such as a Rolex watch and Michael Jackson memorabilia. He resigned from Congress in November after 17 years in office.
–WGN-TV Producer Kelly Barnicle contributed to this report.