Former Democratic Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. was sentenced to two and half years behind bars on Wednesday for misusing about $750,000 in campaign funds. His wife, Sandra Jackson, was also sentenced to exactly 12 months in prison for tax fraud. Both had pleaded guilty.
In a somewhat unusual move, the judge decided to stagger their sentences, allowing one parent to remain at home with their two children, who were not present Wednesday in court. Jesse Jackson Jr. opted to serve his sentence first, beginning on or after Nov. 1.
“I still believe in the power of forgiveness; I believe in the power of redemption,” said the 48-year-old former lawmaker to a reporter following the hearing. “Today I manned up and tried to accept responsibility for the errors of my ways. And I still believe in resurrection.”
In addition to jail time, Jackson will also face three years of probation, 500 hours of community service, and continued mental health care, NBC News reports. Jackson resigned from Congress in 2012 to receive treatment for severe depression and bipolar disorder, his lawyers said.
“I’ve had to raise many questions to myself about did I confuse success with sickness,” said civil rights leaders Jesse Jackson, Sr., on Wednesday. “Bipolar was never part of my lexicon.”
Jackson used pilfered campaign funds for a year-long shopping spree, reports the Chicago Tribune, which included a Michael Jackson hat and an Eddie Van Halen guitar, among other extravagances. As part of his guilty plea, Jackson agreed to a $750,000 forfeiture, but the judge ruled on Wednesday that he would not have to pay the additional $750,000 prosecutors had sought. His wife also has to pay $22,000 in restitution.