Weeping before a federal judge and his family, former Democratic congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. pleaded guilty Wednesday morning to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud for his use of $750,000 in campaign funds for personal items including a Rolex watch and rock star memorabilia.
"Guilty, your honor," Jackson told U.S. District Judge Robert Wilkins.
"Sir for years I lived off my campaign," Jackson said before the court filled with friends and family including his father, civil rights leader Jesse Jackson.
"I used money I shouldn't have used for personal purposes," Jackson told the court.
Jackson wiped his eyes with tissues during the plea hearing and looked back several times at his family mouthing "I'm sorry" before pleading guilty.
Jackson will be sentenced to prison on June 28, 2013 and is expected to receive a sentence between 46 to 57 months. He is also expected to pay criminal penalties between $10,000 and $100,000.
During the hearing Jackson said he had been under psychiatric treatment but that he had not been abusing drugs or alcohol.
Asked if he understood the consequences of his guilty plea such as losing his right to vote Jackson told the Judge, "I've never been more clear in my life."
Jackson's wife, former Chicago Alderman Sandi Jackson, also appeared before Judge Wilkins and pleaded guilty to a one count charge of filing a false tax return.
She wept at times as he reviewed her plea agreement during the court hearing.
After the plea hearing her attorney Dan Webb said today's plea allows her to accept responsibility for her action and move forward with her life.
Leaving the courthouse the former Congressman said, "It's not a proud day. I'm sorry I let everybody down."