WASHINGTON (AP) – Former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and his wife, Sandra, are to appear in federal court today to answer criminal charges in an alleged scheme to spend $750,000 in campaign funds on personal items, including a $43,350 gold watch, furs and celebrity memorabilia.
Both have agreed to plead guilty in deals with federal prosecutors. Jackson is charged with conspiracy and his wife with one count of filing false joint federal income tax returns for the years 2006 through 2011 that knowingly understated the income the couple received.
The Jacksons are to appear separately before U.S. District Judge Robert L. Wilkins – with the former congressman appearing in the morning and his wife in the afternoon.
Both Jackson and his wife face maximum penalties of several years in prison; he also faces hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and forfeitures.
Jackson used campaign money to buy a $43,350 gold-plated, men’s Rolex watch and $9,587.64 on children’s furniture, according to court papers filed in the case. His wife spent $5,150 on fur capes and parkas, the document said.
When prosecutors charged the couple last Friday, the ex-congressman said he fully accepts the responsibility for the improper decisions and mistakes he has made. Tom Kirsch, an attorney for Jackson’s wife, said she has signed a plea agreement with federal prosecutors and would plead guilty to one tax count.
In court papers filed against Jackson on Friday, prosecutors said that upon conviction he must forfeit $750,000, plus tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of memorabilia items and furs. The memorabilia includes a football signed by U.S. presidents, a Michael Jackson and Eddie Van Halen guitar, a Michael Jackson fedora, Martin Luther King Jr. memorabilia, Malcolm X memorabilia, Jimi Hendrix memorabilia and Bruce Lee memorabilia — all from a company called Antiquities of Nevada.