Former U.S. Congress member Jesse Jackson Jr. entered a guilty plea in federal court Wednesday as part of a negotiated deal with the U.S. attorney’s office. Both Jackson and his wife, former Chicago Alderman Sandi Jackson, were indicted on federal charges on Friday. Jackson was charged with conspiracy for the improper spending of $750,000 in campaign funds on personal needs. His wife was accused of filing improper tax returns for six years. She is expected to plead guilty as well later this afternoon.
Jackson’s guilty plea will almost certainly result in prison time, as the former congressman reportedly agreed to sentencing guidelines of between 46 and 57 months. Both the defense and prosecutors protected their ability to argue for a reduced or increased sentence during hearings. The felony count of conspiracy to commit false statements, wire fraud and mail fraud carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Sentencing in the case is scheduled for June 28.
Family members of the couple, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., were outside of the U.S. District Court Wednesday to show support. Neither defendant nor family members spoke to reporters at the scene as they entered the building.
Jackson Jr. stepped down from the House of Representatives shortly after winning re-election without campaigning in November. Instead, he spent the campaign season seeking treatment for bipolar disorder, leading to an extended absence from the nation’s capital. He served as an Illinois representative for 17 years prior. His wife left her position as alderman in January after it was revealed that she would likely face federal charges.
Following his indictment, Jackson said he accepted “responsibility for the improper decisions and mistakes I have made.” He will remain a relatively free man leading up to his sentencing. Judge Robert Wilkins, who is overseeing both hearings, granted him permission to travel between Washington and Chicago.
The Chicago Tribune reports that as he left the courtroom, Jackson Jr. told a reporter, “Tell everybody back home I’m sorry I let ’em down, OK?”