Ex-Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. Charged With Misuse of Campaign Funds

Former Illinois congressman could face years in jail.

ByABC News
February 15, 2013, 4:43 PM

CHICAGO, Feb. 15, 2013 #151; -- Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. could face years in jail after being formally charged Friday with misusing hundreds of thousands of dollars of campaign funds, according to a criminal information filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

Jackson, D-Ill., was charged with criminal conspiracy, making false statements, mail fraud and wire fraud.

He is accused of spending approximately $750,000 of campaign funds on personal items such as a $43,350 gold-plated Rolex watch, fur coats and home furniture. In addition, Jackson was charged with accepting $28,000 in undisclosed gifts and loans.

Federal prosecutors typically file a criminal information rather than a grand jury indictment when there is an expectation that the person charged will plead guilty. Jackson is now likely to face a hefty fine and could spend years in jail, reportedly as long as 57 months.

"Over the course of my life I have come to realize that none of us are immune from our share of shortcomings and human frailties," Jackson said in a statement released by his attorneys. "Still, I offer no excuses for my conduct and I fully accept my responsibility for the improper decisions and mistakes I have made. To that end, I want to offer my sincerest apologies to my family, my friends, and all of my supporters for my errors in judgment and, while my journey is not yet complete, it is my hope that I am remembered for all the things that I did right."

Jackson, who represented the 2nd District in Illinois, a district that includes a large portion of Chicago's South Side and southeast suburbs, resigned from Congress last November only weeks after being re-elected. Jackson's departure from Congress came after he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder last year.

The congressman, the son of civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, first left Congress abruptly in June to seek treatment for exhaustion. After stints at treatment centers in Arizona and Minnesota, he was diagnosed as bipolar.

Jackson's wife, Sandi, who resigned from her post on the Chicago City Council last month, was charged with filing false tax returns.

As part of the criminal information filed against the former congressman Friday, Jackson faces a forfeiture allegation that would require him to give up valuable keepsakes, including memorabilia related to iconic figures such as martial arts actor Bruce Lee, Michael Jackson, Jimi Hendrix and Martin Luther King, Jr.