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Prosecutors seek 48-month prison sentence for Jesse Jackson Jr

Former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL) (R) departs the U.S. District Federal Courthouse in Washington February 20, 2013. REUTERS/Gary Ca
Former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL) (R) departs the U.S. District Federal Courthouse in Washington February 20, 2013. REUTERS/Gary Ca

By Mary Wisniewski

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Federal prosecutors have asked for a prison sentence of 48 months for former Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., who admitted to using campaign funds for lavish personal gifts and other purposes not permitted by law.

Prosecutors in court papers filed on Friday also asked for his wife, Sandi Jackson, a former Chicago city council member, to serve 18 months in prison for misuse of campaign funds.

Given that the couple has two children, prosecutors requested that Sandi Jackson, 49, serve her sentence first, followed by her husband.

"The Court should account for the impact incarceration will have on Defendant's family when structuring his sentence," prosecutors said in a document filed in federal court in Washington, D.C.

For their part, lawyers for Jackson Jr. sought a lenient sentence, saying in court papers there was little risk of recidivism and his mental health "may well worsen under the stress of incarceration."

Sentencing for both Jacksons is scheduled for July 3.

Jackson Jr., 48, resigned from U.S. Congress after he was re-elected in a safe Democratic seat last year, saying he was doing so for health reasons. He has undergone extensive treatment for depression, including spending weeks last summer at the Mayo Clinic.

Jackson Jr., the son of civil rights leader and former presidential candidate Jesse Jackson Sr., pleaded guilty last February to misusing about $750,000 in campaign funds on luxuries such as fur capes, celebrity memorabilia and a Rolex watch.

His wife pleaded guilty at a separate hearing to filing false tax returns that failed to report the campaign money as income.

Once considered one of the country's most promising African-American politicians, the younger Jackson ran for Congress and won at age 30. He served from 1995 until his resignation.

He disappeared from public view last summer and speculation swirled for weeks about his condition. At first he said he was being treated for exhaustion and in July his doctor said Jackson Jr. was receiving intensive care for a "mood disorder."

He eventually was treated for at least six weeks at the Mayo Clinic for bipolar disorder.

Attorneys for the Jacksons were not immediately available for comment.

(Additional reporting by Greg McCune in Chicago and David Ingram in Washington; editing by Bernard Orr and Matthew Lewis)

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