Story Summary

Sandi Jackson resigns, pleads guilty to federal charges

Sandi Jackson stepped down from her 7th Ward Alderman position in January, and has since pleaded guilty to one count of filing false tax returns in federal court.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel chose Natashia Holmes to take Jackson’s place.

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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.

Sandi Jackson read a short statement during her sentencing hearing Wednesday.

“I am a little nervous,” she said, crying. “I want to begin by apologizing first to my family, to my friends and to the community for my actions that have brought me here today.”

“I grieve everyday…over the mistakes,” she said. “I stand before you today asking for mercy.”

“This case has taken an enormous toll on me, which is to be expected. But my heart breaks everyday with the pain that this has caused my babies,” she said.

Jackson tearfully concluded her statement by thanking the court. Jackson pleaded guilty to tax fraud, and her husband Jesse Jackson Jr. will also be sentenced Wednesday for misuse of campaign funds.

Prosecutor Matt Graves argued for a stiff sentence for Sandi, saying that she is not “another victim of her husbands crimes.” Graves said this is about  “her independent criminal conduct.”

“The fact is she stole,” he added.

–Reporting by WGN Producer Kelly Barnicle

After a brief recess, the court is now focused on former Chicago alderman Sandi Jackson, who has pleaded guilty to tax fraud.

Jackson has been wiping tears from her eyes as her Attorney Dan Webb explains to the judge his reasons Sandi should receive probation.

Webb told the court that Jackson’s character and service as a 7th Ward Alderman should be taken into consideration. Reading quotes and letters from Sandi’s friends and colleagues, Webb told the judge her “leadership and dedication for the disadvantage is second to none.”

“If a jail sentence is imposed on Sandi Jackson, there will be enormous harm to the children who will lose their mother,” he said.

Webb said Jesse and Sandi’s children “need Sandi Jackson’s love and support and her nurturing…they need it now.”

Webb said Sandi’s “overwhelming compulsion to admit that she was wrong” took place within three to four weeks, Webb said, and he has never had a case move that fast.   He said it is because she “accepted responsibility.”

–Reporting by WGN-TV Producer Kelly Barnicle

The Chicago power couple who pled guilty to using some $750,000 in campaign money to pay for living expenses and at times a lavish lifestyle are preparing for sentencing.

In recent days, letters have been filed with the U.S. district court in Washington D.C.  Some are asking for leniency, others are asking the judge to bring down the hammer on former congressman Jesse Jackson Jr and his wife Sandi, the ex-alderman.

The two were last seen publicly in February as they entered a Washington courthouse together to accept responsibility for using campaign money to live off of; to buy furs, television sets, trips for themselves and their kids and so much more. The bills totaled around $750,000 dollars.

The latest batch of letters submitted to Judge Amy Berman Jackson, no relation to the defendants,  were on Sandi’s behalf, many of the handwritten notes were from children.

All the letters are intended for the sentencing judge to consider as Jackson Jr potentially faces 4-5 years in prison. His wife faces one to two years with the hopes of getting probation instead.

Former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr and his wife former alderman Sandi Jackson appeared in federal court today and both plead guilty to misuse of campaign funds.

It was a full day in court; two defendants, two different court appearances, one family. Not just any family.  The son of the Rev Jesse Jackson and his wife.

Their fall from grace was a far one.  Both of them wept in the courtroom today as they admitted to the nation they are guilty of breaking the law.

“I’m sorry I let everybody down,” Jackson Jr said.

Once a congressman planning a powerful political career, today, Jackson Jr was a defendant in a criminal case planning for prison. He and his wife Sandi entered the federal courthouse in Washington together.  His father the Rev Jesse Jackson along with his mother and siblings were by his side.jacksons-court

A gaunt and emotionally fragile looking Jackson Jr made his first real public appearance in more than nine months. He wept on and off throughout the proceedings and told the judge he was aware of the gravity of the hearing and the charges against him totaling $750,000.

“For years, I’ve lived off my campaign,” Jackson told Judge Robert Wilkins. “I took money that should’ve been used for the campaign and used it for personal purposes.”

And he admits he took alot. It is the largest case of its kind, said the US attorney in Washington DC with over 3100 transactions in 7 years.


  • Clubs/restaurants: $60,857
  • Airfare: $31,700
  • Tobacco Shops: $17,000
  • Home renovation: $26,000
  • $8,000 on 2 wild Elk Heads.
  • $12,000 spent at Best Buy:
  • $15,000 at ABT electronics  and  more.
  • Costco, Ticketmaster, Build-a-Bear

The total charged to Jackson Jr’s campaign credit card: $583,000.

“It turns out that Jesse has serious health issues. those health issues are directly related to his present predicament. That’s not an excuse, that’s just a fact,” said Jackson’s attorney Reid Weingarten.

Sandi Jackson had her day in court, too, shaking her head and wiping tears as tax fraud charges were read aloud. In a little voice she told the court she pleads “guilty.”

Jackson Jr is scheduled to be sentenced on June 28.  Sandi to be sentenced July 1.

Surrounded by her family and with her husband Jesse Jackson Jr. by her side, Sandi Jackson pleaded guilty to one count of filing false tax returns in federal court Wednesday.

sandijacksonJackson, 49, stood emotionally before the same judge that just a few hours earlier her husband stood before and pleaded the same.

She shook her head as the prosecutors read the charges aloud and held a tissue to her face. She was charged

Sandi Jackson was  told to surrender her passport and must travel with restriction, though she is allowed to travel throughout the United States.

Sandi left the court wordlessly and hand in hand with her husband.

She is due back in court for sentencing on Monday July 1 at 2 p.m.

Download the official court documents:

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel named Natashia Holmes 7th Ward Alderman Monday.  She replaces Sandi Jackson, who resigned from City Council last month.

Emanuel broke with tradition in a ward that has been filled with politically connected people for years. Like William Beavers, his daughter Darcell and Sandi Jackson.

“This represents a clear break from the past and a new beginning,” the mayor said.

natashia-holmesSandi Jackson herself indicated that she wanted to give her own suggestions to the mayor about whom should replace her.  The mayor says using a committee to find the right person marks a new chapter for the city, one where clout is no longer a prerequisite.

It is Mayor Emanuel’s first aldermanic replacement since taking office. Over 60 people applied and Holmes got the nod after submitting her application and being interviewed by committee. Holmes is 37 years of age. She has no husband or kids, has worked for the Dept of Transportation, the park district and has a law degree from Chicago Kent School of Law.

The mayor thinks Holmes represents a new way of doing business in Chicago.

Voters in the 7th Ward have mixed opinions.

You can read a copy of Holmes’s application here (pdf).

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the new alderman for the 7th Ward Monday.

Emanuel introduced Natashia Lynnette Holmes at a news conference. She replaces Sandi Jackson, who resigned from City Council last month.

“I think Natashia represents a clear break from the past, and a new beginning,” Emanuel said.

Holmes received her law degree from Kent College of Law. She previously worked for Illinois Department of Transportation and The Chicago Park District. Emanuel said she also had an integral role in the 2010 Census and served as the president of her condo association.

Emanuel appointed a panel to evaluate candidates who met the qualifications and applied for Jackson’s vacated seat. More than 65 residents applied for the job, 48 met the qualifications for the position and received phone interviews, and 25 of the residents were selected for in-person interviews by the committee. After the committee’s evaluations, Emanuel then selected Holmes.

Meanwhile, federal investigators have started examining the finances of former alderman Jackson.

Authorities are questioning the legitimacy of the monthly consultant fees she received from the congressional campaign of her husband Jesse Jackson Jr.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel hopes to name a new 7th Ward alderman by the next City Council meeting February 13, but he’ll have quite a few names to sift through.

He extended the application deadline until 5 p.m. Monday, and 65 people applied to succeed Sandi Jackson. The original deadline was Friday but Emanuel left it open through Monday because of some glitches with the city website.

City officials say only 53 applicants have been verified to live in the ward; 12 of the applicants don’t live in the ward, and therefore, will not be considered.

The Mayor has appointed a panel of five ward residents to vet candidates and narrow the list down to three or more finalists.

The deadline to apply to become Chicago’s next 7th Ward alderman has been extended.

The mayor’s office had received 42 online applications by Friday but decided to extend the deadline to 5 p.m. Monday because of some technical problems with the website.

Also, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has named five people to a committee that will narrow the group of applicants and send their recommendations to Emanuel.

The screening committee members include a community activist, a church pastor and and a longtime 7th Ward resident.

The mayor plans to meet with them Monday.

Emanuel must select someone to replace Sandi Jackson, who resigned from the 7th Ward Alderman position.