Former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., once a rising Democratic Party star, has been sentenced to 30 months in prison for misusing his campaign funds to support a lavish spending spree.  Jackson, 48, told U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson that he “misled the American people”.  The judge ordered he serve his sentence in the state of Alabama.  The ex-Illinois lawmaker’s wife, Sandi Jackson, was also sentenced to 12-months for her role in the misuse of $750,000 over several years.  The pair pled guilty a few months ago, Jackson to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud, and false statements, and Shari to filing false tax returns.  After the hearing Jackson acknowledged his failings and optimistically hoped for redemption.

“I still believe in the power of forgiveness…”

The son of civil rights leader Jesse Jackson admitted to using the campaign money between 2005 and 2012 on vacations, furs, signed football, antiques, dresses, jewelry, electronics, and Michael Jackson, Malcolm X, Bruce Lee, and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. memorabilia.  Jackson said in court that he wanted to be held accountable and knew what he did was wrong.  He also asked for mercy on his wife and blamed himself for her charges.

“…If probation is not available to my wife, give me her time.”

Mrs. Jackson also expressed her regrets and asked for mercy for her children’s sake.  Both got less of a sentence then the government wanted.  The prosecution wanted Jackson to get 4 years (48 months) and his wife to get 18-months.

“This is a sad day that involves a waste of talent,” the prosecutor, Matthew Graves said.

The judge gave the couple a few minutes to decide who would serve first, and Jesse Jackson Jr. agreed to.  Jackson was diagnosed earlier in 2012 with bipolar disorder.  He took a medical leave of absence from the House of Representatives where he served since 1995 last year.  In 1997, Newsweek named Jackson one of the top 100 people to watch in the next century.  The article read, “…will he be the first black president?”  Outside the courtroom, Jesse Jackson Sr. told reporters he didn’t know how he missed the signs of his son’s sickness, but the he is now doing better.

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