Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Blue State Graft Watch Update- Feds Lay Out Case Against Former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr

Federal prosecutors detailed their charges against former Illinois Democrat Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr late last week as he was charged with conspiracy to commit false statements, mail fraud and wire fraud as he allegedly misappropriated more than $750,000 in campaign funds. The money was reportedly used to buy high-end merchandise for himself and his wife and renovations on their Chicago home.
The court filing was a clear signal that Jackson, who was first elected to the House of Representatives in the mid-1990s, intended to plead guilty to the charge, which has a maximum penalty of five years in prison. No court date has been set.

Jackson’s expected plea would be another mile marker in his slow political and personal collapse, which began shortly after President Obama’s 2008 election. That had seemed to open up possibilities for Jackson, considered a likely successor to Obama in the Senate.

Instead, FBI agents arrested then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) and charged him with trying to sell the interim appointment to the Senate seat from Illinois to the highest bidder, and Jackson was implicated in the scandal. Though not charged, he would never recover politically.

According to the documents released Friday, Jackson used campaign funds to buy a $43,350 gold Rolex watch along with almost $10,000 in children’s furniture that he had delivered to his home in the District.

Among other allegations, prosecutors say Jackson made direct expenditures of about $57,793 from the campaign’s accounts for personal expenses. The documents say he and a co-conspirator used a campaign credit card to make $582,773 worth of purchases for their own use.

Jackson’s wife, former Chicago alderman Sandra Stevens Jackson, was not named or charged in that case, but the description makes clear that she was the co-conspirator.

Jackson’s wife was charged with filing false income-tax returns from 2006 through 2011, according to a separate criminal information in her case. That charge has a maximum sentence of three years in prison.

The criminal documents outline a series of illegal expenditures from the former congressman’s campaign account, including more than a dozen purchases of pop-culture artifacts that firmly establish him as someone who came of age in the 1970s and ’80s:

●$10,105 worth of Bruce Lee memorabilia, including four separate purchases of items associated with the late martial-arts film hero.

●$14,200 in random Michael Jackson memorabilia.

●$4,000 for a “Michael Jackson and Eddie Van Halen” guitar.

●$4,600 for a Michael Jackson fedora.

In mid-November, when he announced his resignation from the House, Jackson signaled that he was in plea negotiations.

“I have made my share of mistakes. I am aware of the ongoing federal investigation into my activities and I am doing my best to address the situation responsibly, cooperate with the investigators,” he wrote in his resignation letter.

In the Blagojevich case, Raghuveer Nayak, who worked as a fundraiser for [convicted former Illinois governor Rod] Blagojevich and Jackson, told investigators that Jackson instructed him to raise as much as $6 million for the governor’s campaign.

If found guilty, Jackson will also lose his federal pension. Observers also indicate that prison time would an increasingly likely outcome for the 10-term congressman [no word on whether or not it will be at that nearly vacant prison outside of Rock Island, IL that President Obama, Gov Quinn and Sen Durbin were so keen on using to house Al Qeada detainees- NANESB!]. Despite checking himself into the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota back in June, Jackson Jr won re-election by a 63% margin in November before announcing his resignation a few weeks later.

On Friday, Jackson Jr's wife- former Chicago alderman Sandi Jackson- pleaded guilty to one count of tax fraud as part of a plea deal with federal prosecutors.

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