Jesse Jackson Jr. signs plea deal; judge to decide if he serves jail time
In this May 16, 2011 file photo, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. attends ceremonies for Chicago Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel in Chicago. Jackson has signed a plea deal, agreeing to plead guilty to misuse of campaign funds, CBS Chicago reports. / AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., has signed a plea deal with federal prosecutors, agreeing to plead guilty to misuse of campaign funds, CBS Chicago reports. The deal will let a federal judge decide whether Jackson serves jail time.
By agreeing to plead guilty to a single felony count, Jackson could serve up to five years in prison. The judge, however, may decide to sentence him with probation instead of jail time. The former congressman has also agreed to repay hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds, misspent over four years on things like redecorating his home and a $40,000 Rolex he bought for a female friend.
As part of the agreement, the government demanded that Jackson give up his congressional seat, which he did in November, just a little more than two weeks after easily winning re-election.
The fate of Jackson's wife, former Chicago Alderman Sandi Jackson, is still unclear, according to CBS Chicago. Investigators were scrutinizing whether Sandi Jackson -- who served as her husband's campaign manager and as a paid consultant for him -- was aware of or complicit in her husband's alleged misuse of campaign money. CBS Chicago reports there's no indication she'll be charged with anything besides co-signing tax returns that should have included taxes on Jesse's campaign funds converted to personal use.
While under investigation last year, Jackson also struggled with his mental health. He spent four weeks at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota over the summer in treatment for bipolar depression. In spite of his problems, Jackson last year won re-election in Illinois' second district, which he had represented since 1995, with 63 percent of the vote.
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