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Jackson pleads guilty: “Tell everybody I’m sorry I let them down”

Wednesday, Feb 20, 2013

* What a totally unnecessary and disgraceful waste

Former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. pleaded guilty Wednesday in a federal courtroom in Washington, D.C., to conspiring to illegally spend about $750,000 in campaign money on personal uses, including a Rolex, pricey memorabilia, furs and other luxury items.

“For years I lived off my campaign. I used money that should have been for campaign purposes for personal purposes,” Jackson said in court, as he broke down several times, getting tissues from his lawyers.

In explaining his decision to plead guilty, Jackson said: “I have no interest in wasting the taxpayers’ time or their money.”

“I’m guilty, your honor,” Jackson said.

“Tell everybody I’m sorry I let them down,” he said outside the courtroom.

He was an effective congressman, and he could’ve continued to be one for many years to come. But he just didn’t ever think that campaign laws applied to him. He constantly sent out campaign press releases from his government office, then come to find out he was using campaign cash to buy Michael Jackson memorabilia, among other things.

* The Sun-Times has a ScribbleLive thingy running today

Keep an eye on that because Sandi Jackson is expected to plead guilty today, too. There will also be a press conference by the US Attorney.

* Details

Jackson Jr. entered a negotiated plea of guilty on one felony count of conspiracy to commit false statements, wire fraud and mail fraud. Prosecutors say he spent campaign contributions to buy luxury items, memorabilia and other goods. […]

Attorneys familiar with public corruption investigations said the amount of campaign cash that prosecutors said was converted to personal use in this case is the largest of any that they can remember. […]

Prosecutors accused Jackson Jr. of improper spending of campaign cash for a $43,350 men’s Rolex watch, nearly $9,600 in children’s furniture and $5,150 in cashmere clothing and furs. She is charged with filing false tax returns for six years, most recently calendar year 2011.

Prosecutors are seeking a $750,000 judgment against Jackson Jr. and the forfeiture of thousands of dollars of goods he purchased, including cashmere clothing, furs and an array of memorabilia from celebrities including Michael Jackson, Bruce Lee and civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

33 Comments
  1. - Bill - Wednesday, Feb 20, 13 @ 11:48 am:

    OH NO!!!Not the cashmere!


  2. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Feb 20, 13 @ 11:48 am:

    The brazenness is shocking, given all the federal heat in Chicago. Risking it all — freedom, family, office — for junk like a watch and celebrity memorabilia?

    Still, if he hadn’t continued to be so brazen in chasing Blago for the Senate seat, the federales might never have taken a hard look, and he’d still be in Congress.

    It’s hardly a tragedy. Kids getting cancer are tragedies. Taking such high risks for a bunch of junk is just pathetic.


  3. - Loop Lady - Wednesday, Feb 20, 13 @ 11:52 am:

    Spending sprees can be a hallmark of bipolar illness when mania/impulsivity sets in…this is not an excuse for his behavior, but I do feel for his children and his constituents….


  4. - Leave a Light on George - Wednesday, Feb 20, 13 @ 11:56 am:

    Who knew that mink coats were reversible?


  5. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Feb 20, 13 @ 11:59 am:

    I can’t wait for the auction. I’ve got my eye on some of that Bruce Lee memorabilia.

    Enter the Dragon meets Exit the House.


  6. - Anonymour - Wednesday, Feb 20, 13 @ 12:13 pm:

    One or two spending sprees might fit with bipolar disorder. Taking $750,000 with your wife over many years is harder to fit into the “my bipolar disorder made me do it” excuse.


  7. - shore - Wednesday, Feb 20, 13 @ 12:15 pm:

    She has to do jail time. She was a part of this.


  8. - Geneva Guy - Wednesday, Feb 20, 13 @ 12:21 pm:

    $5600 for a Martha’s Vinyard Holistic Retreat? They may have had Michael Jackson’s fedora but it didn’t make them Smooth Criminals.


  9. - Mr.Big Trouble - Wednesday, Feb 20, 13 @ 12:24 pm:

    I agree w/ Shore that the Mrs. needs to do some time. Part of the evil, self important partnership w/ J3, and there are plenty of family members who can watch the kids while she thinks about her actions behind bars.


  10. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Feb 20, 13 @ 12:30 pm:

    Jackson got bored. He always considered the 2nd District to be a little stepping stone on his way to the Oval Office. He discovered otherwise. He hung in there and tried to make it interesting for him until something else opened up, but nothing really did.

    He was given the 2nd. Just like he had been given the very best of private educations in the world’s most exclusive schools. The little prince got tired of his little fiefdom.

    His last election clearly showed that this district is ridiculously partisan. You can’t get much sillier and expect to have any statewide or national appeal. He didn’t even show up last year to work or to campaign, yet he easily won the nomination and the election.

    In that atmosphere, over a decade, a young little prince is going to stop striving. And start having affairs, spending money on embarrassing crap, padding his family with connections and riches and political offices. And just becoming a nuisance for everyone.

    Glad he is gone. He got useless about eight years ago.


  11. - Anon - Wednesday, Feb 20, 13 @ 12:35 pm:

    Wow, the Rolex was practically a drop in the bucket.


  12. - Stones - Wednesday, Feb 20, 13 @ 12:39 pm:

    I’d love to see that $43,000 Rolex!


  13. - Mr. Ethics - Wednesday, Feb 20, 13 @ 12:40 pm:

    So what happens to the Peotone airport?


  14. - hisgirlfriday - Wednesday, Feb 20, 13 @ 1:08 pm:

    I guess I’ve gone soft in that I do not want to see both Jackson parents behind bars.

    For one thing, I don’t understand why Sandi Jackson deserves jail time but Patti Blago didn’t, supposedly because prosecutors didn’t want to orphan the Blago girls.

    I also don’t understand the inconsistencies in how justice is meted out in public corruption cases generally…

    I mean Trips is going to get multiple years for essentially stealing from his campaign donors, and Blago got 14 years, but then people like Cellini get enough fan letters written about him and a favorable judge lets him practically walk, even when his family has made a lot more money off government contracts and government connections than $750,000. I just don’t get it.


  15. - Responsa - Wednesday, Feb 20, 13 @ 1:53 pm:

    Lynn Sweet’s tweets are dynamite. I agree with Wordslinger. The stupid and clumsy attempted senate seat purchase shined a light and opened Pandora’s box a crack for the feds who might otherwise never have delved deeply into the Jackson’s finances. Greed is NOT good.

    How will the current candidates to replace him respond on this day?


  16. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Feb 20, 13 @ 2:06 pm:

    Good enough for him….let The Reverend babysit while justice is served


  17. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Feb 20, 13 @ 2:13 pm:

    I, too, wonder about the comparison between Ms Jackson and Ms Blagojevich. Clearly both were engaged in shenanigans but only one was charged. I can’t claim to know the specifics, tho. Why one and not the other?


  18. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Feb 20, 13 @ 2:16 pm:

    Folks with bipolar disorder can run up some impressive spending amounts - all limited to the resources at hand. Involving a second person, tho, is harder to explain. Folie a deux?


  19. - Jechislo - Wednesday, Feb 20, 13 @ 3:00 pm:

    George Ryan was not shown any mercy. It should be the same for Jesse or any other eoected official that misuses funds.


  20. - wishbone - Wednesday, Feb 20, 13 @ 3:00 pm:

    ““Tell everybody I’m sorry I let them down,” he said outside the courtroom.”

    At least he had the grace to apologize, something the arrogant George Ryan could never bring himself to do.


  21. - Jechislo - Wednesday, Feb 20, 13 @ 3:01 pm:

    elected official that is


  22. - Darienite - Wednesday, Feb 20, 13 @ 3:13 pm:

    ==”I mean Trips is going to get multiple years for essentially stealing from his campaign donors, and Blago got 14 years, but then people like Cellini get enough fan letters written about him and a favorable judge lets him practically walk, even when his family has made a lot more money off government contracts and government connections than $750,000. I just don’t get it.”
    JJJ and Blago were elected officials - Cellini was not. All 3 deserve some time at the gray bar hotel.


  23. - hisgirlfriday - Wednesday, Feb 20, 13 @ 3:56 pm:

    OK if being an elected official is the thing… then what about Vrdolyak getting less than a year (after first getting just probation) when his real estate kickback scheme was for twice as much as the $750k that Trips took from his campaign.


  24. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Feb 20, 13 @ 4:08 pm:

    –OK if being an elected official is the thing… then what about Vrdolyak getting less than a year (after first getting just probation) when his real estate kickback scheme was for twice as much as the $750k that Trips took from his campaign.–

    That was an interesting episode, wasn’t it?

    I’ll put on my tinfoil hat: to borrow from Paul Ricca, Fast Eddie had more brains for breakfast than Trips had all day.

    Fast Eddie got caught up with Levine. But I suspect he’d been pretty helpful over the years to the federales in certain cases, and I’m certain that no one in Illinois wanted him spilling his guts on everything he knew to avoid hard time.

    He was a different breed of cat, back in the day, walked in a lot of worlds.


  25. - LincolnLounger - Wednesday, Feb 20, 13 @ 4:37 pm:

    I just can’t get out of my head Sandi Jackson’s press release and behavior as she resigned trying to strong-arm her replacement’s appointment and referring to herself as the “First Lady of the Congressional District”. Delusional.


  26. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Feb 20, 13 @ 5:38 pm:

    Let’s be quite clear, neither Jackson is goig to get a “Vrodolyak Special”

    Once they said it was the largest they had seen in recent memory, that took the “Eddie V” off the table.


  27. - Chicago Cynic - Wednesday, Feb 20, 13 @ 6:25 pm:

    I agree - Sandi should do time and so should Patti. I understand why the Feds are letting both off with no jail because of the kids, but it’s hard to argue that justice has been done.

    As to Rich’s statement that “He was an effective congressman,” I beg to differ. It seems to me that he blew all his credibility and effort on his completely fruitless crusade to bring a 3rd “Chicago” airport to Peotone. Beyond, that, I’m hard pressed to point to a single achievement he has to show for his 17 years in office.


  28. - Just The Way It Is One - Wednesday, Feb 20, 13 @ 6:25 pm:

    The more I read, the extent of his abuse of his campaign funds is both truly sickening and shocking–Sandy’s omissions are horrible, too. And to think that his father stood right next to Martin on that fateful day. It’s yet another sad, embarrassing day for Illinois, but this time, for the Nation as well…


  29. - Church Lady - Wednesday, Feb 20, 13 @ 7:47 pm:

    Sandi had her OWN political fund, Mrs. B did not. Sandi also defrauded the IRS.


  30. - Arthur Andersen - Wednesday, Feb 20, 13 @ 8:50 pm:

    -that took the “Eddie V. off the table-
    To say the least, Willy.

    Next on “Pawn Stars”
    Old Man: What do you have there, son?
    Trips: It’s Eddie Van Halen’s guitar! Cool, huh?
    Old Man: That ain’t music to me, young man. Were you looking to pawn it or sell it today, and how much are you asking?
    Trips: Sell it, and how about $6000?
    Rick: Ain’t no way that’s gonna happen. I need to call in an expert before I’ll make an offer.
    Trips: $500?
    Rick: $325 and you have a deal.
    Trips: Sold!
    Rick: Chum, write him up.
    Chum: Come on with me, sir. You sure look familiar. Are you Will Smith?
    Big Hoss: My God, Chum!


  31. - ChicagoDem - Wednesday, Feb 20, 13 @ 8:56 pm:

    I wonder what is worse. To have stolen 750K or to have had an illigitimate child and everything associated with it. After all, Sr. is a man of the cloth who lied and cheated on his wife.


  32. - Waldi - Wednesday, Feb 20, 13 @ 10:38 pm:

    Do other criminals with children get the same consideration during sentencing (reduced or no jail time)? I truly don’t know - but think the law should apply equally.


  33. - Anon - Thursday, Feb 21, 13 @ 12:56 am:

    I think the furniture incident as mentioned in the Sun-Times should be enough for Ms. Jackson to face time if not for being pulled into her husbands activities.

    I understand people who feel bad for the children but sometimes children have two bad parents.


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