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Feds lay out funds misuse case against Jesse Jackson Jr.

By Terry Frieden, CNN Justice Producer
February 16, 2013 -- Updated 1603 GMT (0003 HKT)
Officials say it will be up to a judge to determine whether Jesse Jackson Jr. will serve any prison time.
Officials say it will be up to a judge to determine whether Jesse Jackson Jr. will serve any prison time.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Purchases include Michael Jackson items, prosecutors say
  • Charges over alleged misuse of campaign funds
  • Jesse Jackson Jr. says he has no excuses
  • His wife is charged with filing false tax returns

Washington (CNN) -- Federal prosecutors Friday filed felony charges against former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., alleging the illegal misuse of about $750,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses and gifts.

The formal charges of conspiracy, making false statements, and mail and wire fraud, were made public in federal court only days after Jackson had signed a plea deal with prosecutors who were investigating potential financial improprieties.

After the charges were filed Friday, Jackson issued a statement accepting responsibility for making mistakes and bad decisions. He did not dispute prosecutors' allegations.

The charging document filed in Washington says the Illinois Democrat purchased a variety of luxury items, including furs and Michael Jackson memorabilia with campaign funds.

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Campaign credit cards were used to purchase $582,772 for personal expenses, according to the document.

Prosecutors contend Jackson and his wife, Sandra Stevens Jackson, tried to conceal conversion of the money for personal benefit.

Among the more expensive items listed are a gold-plated Rolex watch valued at more than $43,000 that Jackson purchased for himself. He also purchased nearly $9,600 worth of children's furniture with campaign funds, the court document says. More than $5,000 in fur capes and parkas were bought from Beverly Hills, the prosecutors said.

Read the case against Jackson (PDF)

If convicted, according to the document, Jesse Jackson Jr. would forfeit $750,000 and a list of specific property that had been purchased. That includes a Michael Jackson hat valued at $3,900; a Michael Jackson fedora, valued at $4,600; a football signed by U.S. presidents, worth $5,000; the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. memorabilia, totaling more than $10,000; and many other items from Michael Jackson and Bruce Lee collections.

Jackson will not have to appear in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia until his case is assigned to a judge, who will set a date to take Jackson's plea.

Officials say it will be up to that judge to determine whether Jackson will serve any prison time. Under applicable federal laws, he could receive only probation or up to a theoretical maximum of five years.

Sandra Jackson was referred to as a conspirator in the charges against her husband. She was identified not by name but by title as manager for the campaign to re-elect Jesse Jackson Jr., beginning in 2011.

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Federal investigators charged Jackson's wife with filing false federal income tax returns for the couple from 2006 through 2011.

If convicted, she could receive up to three years in prison and a maximum $250,000 fine.

In a statement released by his Washington lawyer, Jesse Jackson Jr. said, "Over the course of my life I have come to realize that none of us are immune from our share of shortcomings and human frailties. Still I offer no excuses for my conduct and I fully accept my responsibility for the improper decisions and mistakes I have made. To that end I want to offer my sincerest apologies to my family, my friends and all of my supporters for my errors in judgment and while my journey is not yet complete, it my hope that I am remembered for things that I did right."

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