Jesse Jackson's Future in Jail Looks a Lot Less Fancy Than the Watch He Bought with Campaign Funds

J.K. Trotter
The Atlantic Wire

After resigning from Congress in November and finally confessing that he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds on luxury goods, Jesse Jackson Jr. will plead guilty on all charges could face considerable jail time, according to an anonymous source speaking to Politico. Last week, the former Illinois Congressman, who served eight terms since 1995, signed a plea bargain with the U.S. Attorney in Washington, D.C., but it wasn't clear how much he owned up to — or which guilty charges would combine to help a judge determine his sentencing. Now it appears that Jackson has admitted that he took funds totaling $750,000 raised for his Congressional campaign and spent them on jewelry, fur coats, and, you know, a $43,000 Rolex. Jackson's confession ended a four-month-long investigation into improper campaign use by him and his wife, Sandi Jackson, who is also implicated in the plea bargain for conspiring with her husband.

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While Jackson will likely pay a hefty fine as part of his bargain — possibly as much as $100,000 — it's unclear exactly how long he'll be locked up. According to NBC's Chicago affiliate, his sentence will be decided by a federal judge, who will take into account the recommendation of the case's prosecution. His sentence shouldn't not exceed five years — the maximum punishment for misusing campaign funds — but Politico's source suggests the prosecution "will recommend a prison sentence of between 46 and 57 months." The judge will also likely consider the issue of Jackson's mental illness: he took a long leave of absence from Congress in June 2012 for what was later revealed to be treatment for bipolar disorder.