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Judge sentences former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. to prison

Black men call Jackson greedy and are not sympathetic

By Frederick H. Lowe
Special to the Trice Edney Newswire from TheNorthStarNews.com

A U.S. District Court Judge sentenced former Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., 48, and his wife Sandra Stevens Jackson, 49, to prison Aug. 14, but the sentences were less than what federal prosecutors had recommended.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the U.S. District Court for District of Columbia, who is not related to either of the Jacksons, sentenced Jesse Jackson Jr., son of Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., founder of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, to two and a half years in prison.

Prosecutors wanted Jackson, who had represented Illinois 2nd Congressional District, which includes Chicago and some suburbs, to serve four years in prison. Jesse Jackson Jr. represented the Illinois 2nd Congressional District from 1995 to November 2012, when he resigned from office, aware that he was under investigation.

Judge Jackson sentenced Sandra Jackson, a former Chicago alderman who served from May 2007 to January 2013, to one year in prison. Prosecutors had recommended that Sandra Jackson serve 18 months in prison.

U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. called Jesse Jackson Jr.’s demise a tragedy of his own making. “Jackson’s political potential was unlimited, but he instead chose to treat his campaign account as a personal slush fund, stealing from people who believed in him so he could live extravagantly.”

Jesse Jackson Jr. pled guilty to conspiring to defraud his re-election campaign of nearly $750,000. He spent the money on expensive appliances, electronic equipment, a $43,350 men’s gold-plated Rolex watch, expensive furs and pricey cigars. Sandra Stevens Jackson pled guilty in February to filing false federal income tax returns on $570,000 from 2006 through 2011.

Machen expressed sympathy for Jesse Jackson Jr.,  but some Black men were not sympathetic. The men, who spoke on the condition their names would not be used, said Jesse Jackson Jr. and Sandra Jackson had a very large combined income. Prosecutors said in 2011 the couple had a combined annual income of $344,000.

“They made enough money to live a very good life,” one of the men told The NorthStar News and Analysis. “But they were greedy.”

Judge Jackson also allowed the Jacksons to serve staggered sentences, with the former congressman serving his sentence first, followed by Sandra Jackson. The judge allowed the arrangement so one parent could be with their two young children.

Jesse Jackson Jr. is expected to serve his sentence at a federal prison in Alabama or one close to Washington, D.C., where he and his wife have a home. The couple also has a home in Chicago.

The U.S. Bureau of Prisons, however, will make the final determination about where he will serve and when he will have to surrender.

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