Former Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. pleaded guilty on Wednesday to misusing approximately $750,000 in campaign money on personal items including on a Rolex watch, fur coat, and a fedora that once belonged to King of Pop Michael Jackson.
“For years I lived off my campaign," a teary-eyed Jackson told U.S. District Judge Robert L. Wilkins. "I used money that should have been for campaign purposes for personal purposes.” Under the plea deal, the Democrat faces up to five years behind bars, in addition to paying a fine that could range from $10,000 to $100,000.
It’s been a year of crisis for the one-time political star. Since the summer, he has been hospitalized twice for the treatment of bipolar disorder. He resigned last November, citing health problems and acknowledging a House Ethics committee investigation against him.
Jackson, 47, also accepted charges of mail fraud, making false statements and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Jackson’s wife, Sandi Jackson, also pleaded guilty to a charge of filing false tax returns and reporting less income than she actually made.
Jackson’s father, civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson, sat in court during his son’s guilty plea. He told NBC News his son still struggles with mental illness. “During this difficult and painful ordeal, our family has felt the impact of your prayers and calls,” he said. "We thank you. The hurt in this valley is indescribable.”
The former lawmaker’s sentencing will take place on June 28. "Tell everybody back home I'm sorry I let them down, okay?" he reportedly said as he left the courtroom.