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Feds Recommend 4 Years in Prison for Ex-Congresman Jesse Jackson Jr.

Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., leaves U.S. District Court in Washington, DC. (Photo Credit: Win McNamee)

By Frederic J. Frommer

WASHINGTON — Prosecutors recommended four years in prison for former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., following his guilty plea this year on criminal charges that he engaged in a scheme to spend $750,000 in campaign funds on personal items.

The government suggested an 18-month sentence for Jackson’s wife, Sandra, who pleaded guilty to filing false joint federal income tax returns that understated the couple’s income.

The government is also recommending that Jackson pay $750,000 in restitution to the campaign and that Sandra Jackson make a restitution payment of $168,000.

Because the couple has two children, prosecutors proposed that the sentences be staggered, with Sandra Jackson going first. According to the government, she could be out of prison in little over a year with credit for satisfactory behavior and serving the end of her sentence in home confinement. Both Jacksons are scheduled to be sentenced on July 3.

Jesse Jackson’s lawyer, meanwhile, asked the judge to sentence Jackson to a term below guidelines. Under federal sentencing guidelines, the range is 46 to 57 months in prison. The lawyer, Reid H. Weingarten, argued that Jackson’s ongoing treatment for depression and bipolar disorder, his record of good works and his family and community ties all support leniency. Jacksons’ sentencing memo includes about five pages of redacted material on his health issues, and a few redacted lines on other issues. Sandra Jackson’s lawyer suggested that his client receive a sentence of probation.

Jackson, who had been a Democratic congressman from Illinois from 1995 until he resigned last November, used campaign money to buy items that included a $43,350 gold-plated men’s Rolex watch and $9,587.64 worth of children’s furniture, and his wife spent $5,150 on fur capes and parkas.

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