Jesse Jackson Jr. pleads guilty to misusing campaign cash

Former lawmaker could get up to 57 months in prison

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After the court appearances, neither Jackson nor his father spoke to reporters.

However, the former congressman’s attorney, Reid H. Weingarten, told reporters that his client had to “come to terms with his misconduct.” He noted that Jackson had serious health problems that “directly related” to his conduct in the case, taking a medical leave from Congress, but added that, “That’s not an excuse; it’s just a fact.”

According to federal prosecutors, Jackson used his campaign cash to buy a number of expensive items, including a $43,350 gold-plated men’s Rolex watch, a $5,000 football signed by American presidents and two hats that once belonged to singer Michael Jackson — including a $4,600 fedora.

Prosecutors also said Jackson purchased two mounted elk heads with campaign cash that he used in his congressional office, adding that as the FBI closed in, a Jackson staffer identified only as “Person A” attempted to sell the heads.

At that point, they said, an undercover FBI employee contacted the staffer, saying he was an interior designer who had received the person’s name from a taxidermist and wanted to know if the heads were for sale. Prosecutors said the agreed price was $5,300 and that Sandra Jackson directed the staffer to move the heads from Washington to Chicago and to have the cash wired to her husband’s personal account.

“Today, Mr. Jackson admitted to engaging in a conspiracy to defraud his constituents by using money donated to his re-election campaign for his own personal use,” said Assistant Director in Charge Valerie Parlave of the FBI. “This investigation and these guilty pleas demonstrate that the FBI and our law enforcement partners will continue to pursue all allegations of public corruption and prove that no one in this country is above the law, to include those who make our laws.”

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