US prosecutors filed fraud and conspiracy charges against former US congressman Jesse Jackson Jr, who stands accused of diverting $750,000 of campaign funds for his personal use.
Related to the investigation into Jackson’s misuse of funds, his wife Sandra Jackson was charged with submitting false tax returns, according to documents filed in US Federal Court in Washington.
The Illinois Democrat has struck a plea deal with prosecutors, one of his lawyers told AFP, and he reportedly faces up to 57 months in prison. Sandra Jackson, who recently resigned as a city legislator in Chicago, also reportedly struck a plea deal.
The former congressman was charged with conspiracy, making false statements, and mail and wire fraud, according to the charging document.
Jackson, 47, released a statement through his lawyers in which he apologized for his mistakes.
“Over the course of my life I have come to realize that none of us are immune from our share of shortcomings and human frailties,” Jackson said.
“Still I offer no excuses for my conduct, and I fully accept my responsibility for the improper decisions and mistakes I have made.”
Jackson used some of the re-directed money to purchase children’s furniture, fur capes and a $43,350 gold-plated Rolex watch, according to prosecutors.
The charges highlight a startling fall for the Illinois Democrat, the son of noted civil rights leader Jesse Jackson.
He was once a rising national star, but resigned under a cloud in November after 17 years in the House of Representatives.
He had taken a leave of absence from Congress last June in order to receive treatment for bipolar disorder and related depression, and for two months his whereabouts and condition were the chief mystery of Washington’s political circuit.
Earlier, he had been implicated in ousted Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich’s scheme to auction off President Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat in 2008.
Blagojevich was impeached and then jailed for bribery, but Jackson was never charged with any wrongdoing related to the scandal.
He was first elected to Congress in 1995 after having worked with his father’s Rainbow Push organization.
Easily re-elected in his largely Democratic Chicago district last November, Jackson resigned 16 days later citing his health problems, while also acknowledging the ethics investigations.
In his statement Friday he apologized to family and supporters for what he described as “my errors in judgment.”
“And while my journey is not yet complete, it is my hope that I am remembered for the things that I did right,” he said.