TODAY'S PAPER
75° Good Morning
75° Good Morning
NewsNation

Jesse Jackson Jr. to plead guilty to tax charge

WASHINGTON -- Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and his wife agreed Friday to plead guilty to federal charges from what prosecutors said was a scheme to use $750,000 in campaign funds for lavish personal expenses, including a $43,350 Rolex watch.

Federal prosecutors filed one charge of conspiracy against the former Chicago congressman and charged his wife, Sandra, a former Chicago alderman, with one count of filing false joint federal income tax returns for 2006 through 2011 that knowingly understated their income.

The son of a famed civil rights leader, Jackson, a Democrat, entered Congress in 1995 and resigned last November after months of absence from Congress while undergoing treatment for depression.

Besides the gold-plated watch, Jackson used campaign money for such things as $9,587.64 on children's furniture, according to court papers. His wife spent $5,150 on fur capes and parkas, the document said.

The prosecutors' court filing said that upon conviction, Jackson must forfeit $750,000, plus tens of thousands of dollars worth of memorabilia items and furs. The memorabilia includes a football signed by U.S. presidents, a Michael Jackson fedora and an Eddie Van Halen guitar.

"I offer no excuses for my conduct, and I fully accept my responsibility for the improper decisions and mistakes I have made," the ex-congressman said in a statement. "I want to offer my sincerest apologies . . . for my errors in judgment and while my journey is not yet complete, it is my hope that I am remembered for things that I did right."

Published reports said Jackson could face 46 to 57 months in prison under sentencing guidelines, but there was no immediate confirmation of what, if any, sentence he and prosecutors had agreed to recommend to U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton, who was assigned the case.

Tom Kirsch, an attorney for Jackson's wife, said she has signed a plea agreement with federal prosecutors and would plead guilty to one tax count.

News Photos and Videos