Former Illinois lawmaker Jesse Jackson, Jr., was sentenced Wednesday to 30 months in prison after pleading guilty to spending $750,000 in campaign funds on personal items.
He will also face 36 months of probation, 500 hours of community service and continued mental health care.
His wife Sandra Jackson was sentenced to one year, after pleading guilty to tax fraud. The couple’s prison sentences will be staggered, and the judge left it up to the Jacksons’ discretion to determine who will be first to serve their sentence. She will also have to pay $22,000 in restitution, and will face a year of supervised probation upon her release.
Jesse Jackson, Jr., elected to serve his sentence first.
“I still believe in the power of forgiveness; I believe in the power of redemption,” Jackson said when approached by a reporter after the hearing. “Today I manned up and tried to accept responsibility for the errors of my ways. And I still believe in resurrection.”
Jackson wept at the hearing Wednesday morning, saying he “didn’t separate my personal life from my political activities, and that was wrong.”
The 48-year-old son and one-time heir apparent to civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson apologized to his mother and father during the hearing in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.
“I misled the American people,” Jackson said in a statement to the court, according to NBC Chicago. “I misled the House of Representatives. I misled the media by filing my reports. I was wrong. And I don’t fault anyone. And I hope even those who still support me don’t hold any judgment against you.”
Jackson resigned from his seat in the House of Representatives in 2012, citing mental health issues. He pleaded guilty in February to charges of pilfering three-quarters of a million dollars in campaign funds to spend on luxury items, including a $1,500 cashmere cap, according to court documents.
“This has been an extraordinarily difficult time for my family,” Jesse Jackson, Sr., told reporters after the sentencing hearing. “I’ve had to raise many questions to myself about did I confuse success with sickness.”
“Bipolar was never part of my lexicon,” the civil rights activist said.
Jackson’s wife Sandra, 49, pleaded guilty to filing false tax returns, and prosecutors had sought an 18-month prison sentence. Jackson had asked that his wife be given probation and he be made to serve time in her stead.