« Shouldn't AG Holder's speech impact federal judges at sentencing ... such as Jesse Jackson Jr.'s? | Main | Should prosecutors in Florida and Oklahoma pursue capital charges against Whitey Bulger? »

August 14, 2013

"Both Jacksons get prison terms, Jackson Jr. to serve first"

The title of this post is the headline of this Chicago Tribune report on today's high-profile federal sentencing in DC.  Here are some of the details:

Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. was sentenced today to 30 months behind bars and his wife, Sandi, got a year in prison for separate felonies involving the misspending of about $750,000 in campaign funds.

In addition to the 2.5 years in prison, Jackson Jr. was sentenced to three years of supervised release. Sandi Jackson was ordered to serve 12 months of supervised release following her prison term.

The judge emphasized that Sandi Jackson was sentenced to exactly 12 months, not the year-and-a-day sentence that some criminals get. Defendants sentenced to a year or less cannot qualify for time off for good behavior in prison. But those sentenced to a year and a day can qualify, which means they may end up serving only about 10 months. Under this rule, Sandi Jackson must serve the full year.

Both Jacksons wept in court as they addressed the judge before sentencing. Jackson Jr. apologized for his crimes and expressed special regrets to his mother and father. “Your honor, throughout this process I’ve asked the government and the court to hold me and only me accountable for my actions,” he said.

When Jackson Jr. spoke, he voice was firm except for the few times he wept openly and paused to dry his eyes with tissue, blow his nose and collect himself. “I am the example for the whole Congress,” he said. “I understand that. I didn’t separate my personal life from my political activities, and I couldn’t have been more wrong.”

Talking about his desire to be sent to a federal prison camp in Alabama, he said: “I want to make it a little inconvenient for everybody to get to me.” He said he hoped that his wife could earn enough money in his absence to keep the family together. “When I get back, I’ll take on that burden,” Jackson Jr. said. “By then I hope my children will be old enough that the pain I caused will be easier to bear.”

After a break in the hearing, Sandi Jackson, a former Chicago alderman, got her opportunity to address the court. She started by telling the judge: “I am a little nervous, so I have a written statement that I would like to read to you.”

She continued: “I want to begin by apologizing first to my family, to my friends, my community and my constiuents for the actions that brought me here today." She said she had caused “disappointment in my community” and had “put my family unit in peril.”

“My heart breaks every day with the pain this has caused my babies,” she continued, weeping. “I ask to be parent, provider and support system that my babies will require in the difficult months ahead.” Their children are ages 13 and 9.

Earlier, Jackson Jr.’s lawyer Reid Weingarten said his client felt “horror, shame and distress” over his crimes. But Weingarten also attempted to downplay the impact of Jackson Jr.’s actions, since he took money from his own campaign fund. It’s not as if there are widows and orphans outside the courthouse who are victims and asking for his head, Weingarten said. “This is not a Ponzi scheme,” he said.

Weingarten asked for an 18-month sentence for Jackson Jr. and noted, “He suffers from a very, very serious mental health disease.” He identified the ex-congressman’s illness as bipolar disorder, and conceded that it was relevant even though “we didn’t plead guilty by reason of insanity.”

Matt Graves, an assistant U.S. attorney, countered that Jackson Jr.’s crimes represented one of the largest cases of theft from a campaign treasury that had ever been prosecuted. Graves also took a shot at Jackson Jr.’s reported condition of bipolar disorder, saying normally when mental health issues are litigated in court, there was expert testimony, discovery and an examination of the defendant — and said none had occurred in this case.

“When one looks at the facts,” Graves said, “it’s quite clear that there’s no there there.” He decried Jackson Jr.’s “wasted talent” and “what he threw away.”

Graves said Sandi Jackson's crimes were serious and had occurred over many years. He also pointed out that defendants in federal courts across the country with children were given prison terms.

Jackson Jr., 48, and his wife, Sandi, 49, stood before federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is no relation to the defendants. He pleaded guilty to a felony conspiracy count involving the $750,000 and she pleaded guilty to a related charge of failing to report about $600,000 in taxable income....

The Jacksons, both Democrats, pleaded guilty in February after a yearslong spending spree with campaign funds. Among the loot: a $43,000 Rolex watch, furs, vacations, two mounted elk heads and memorabilia ranging from a Michael Jackson fedora to an Eddie Van Halen guitar.

Prosecutors urged that he serve four years in prison and her 18 months. Defense lawyers wanted probation for her and a lighter term for him.

Jackson Jr. was in the House of Representatives from 1995 to 2012. Sandi Jackson served on the City Council from 2007 until last January. Both resigned their positions leading up to their guilty pleas.

August 14, 2013 at 02:05 PM | Permalink

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451574769e201901ecaa895970b

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference "Both Jacksons get prison terms, Jackson Jr. to serve first":

Comments

Does anyone know whether Jessee Jr. filed a Motion for a Downward Departure, based upon Diminished Capacity, pursuant to U.S.S.G. section 5K2.13? Or did Reid Weingarten decide not to file such a Motion, because the Government would have have then wanted a government psychiatrist to examine Jessee Jr., which the defense didn't want to do?

Posted by: Jim Gormley | Aug 14, 2013 2:15:26 PM

There was no formal motion for downward departure. This was a straight variance argument partly based on the bipolar condition. There was some support provided in Jackson Jr.'s sentencing memorandum, but much of it was redacted. What additional material was provided under seal is unclear.

Posted by: TJH | Aug 14, 2013 2:38:32 PM

"'Your honor, throughout this process I’ve asked the government and the court to hold me and only me accountable for my actions,' he said."

Does anyone here actually believe he asked the government to hold him accountable? What utter BS. The judge should have doubled his sentence on the spot for telling a bald-faced lie.

What he actually did was try to keep the government off his tail for as long as possible, then hired the No. 1 high-priced white collar lawyer to make sure he got as little accountability as he could get away with.

"'I am the example for the whole Congress,' he said. 'I understand that. I didn’t separate my personal life from my political activities, and I couldn’t have been more wrong.'"

The guy just has an unreal ego. He thinks he's the "example for the whole Congress."

Well, no, he isn't. Many Congressman, but not a majority, have corruption problems, but very few to Jackson's extent.

This is just another way of saying, "Hey look, everybody does it." This from the same guy who just finished telling us he "asked for" accountability.

"'My heart breaks every day with the pain this has caused my babies,' she continued, weeping. 'I ask to be parent, provider and support system that my babies will require in the difficult months ahead.' Their children are ages 13 and 9."

I had previously been unaware that a teenager and a nine year-old are "babies," but whatever. I also find simpering appeals to sentiment to be a means, and a pretty low-down means, of trying to evade, not embrace, accountability. But then we must remember that this is the upside-down world of criminal defense.

"Earlier, Jackson Jr.’s lawyer Reid Weingarten said his client felt 'horror, shame and distress' over his crimes."

This too is almost surely a point-blank lie. What Mr. Rolex feels horrified about is that he got caught, exposed and prosecuted, not that he had such a jolly time helping himself to oodles of cash.

And I'm quite sure I'm not the only one who sees this, but my guess is that most of our frequent commenters will just stay mum. This is not exactly a showcase for the usual litany that "they're all innocent, or if not innocent exactly, victims of poverty et al."

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 14, 2013 3:20:54 PM

WLS is reporting that the judge received no documentation whatsoever that Jackson suffered from any such disorder or that he was being (or had been) treated for it. The only commentary on the matter was from doctors who were not examining Jackson.

Posted by: PSRuckman | Aug 14, 2013 3:24:05 PM

Well, I think it is nonsense because I think the law he was convicted under is nonsense. And I'd say that regardless of the person's political party. It's a stupid law and it is silly to call this behavior in any sense a crime!

Posted by: Daniel | Aug 14, 2013 3:47:11 PM

Now let's see, 434 more House members, 100 Senators, 2 Federal members (P and VP), 15 Cabinet Members and 9 High Priests in Black Pajamas, that means, only 560 more to indict, convict and incarcerate to get a government of the people, by the people and for the people.

Posted by: albeed | Aug 14, 2013 3:53:48 PM

PSRuckman --

Bingo. This is another case where we need to say, "Show me the money!" (so to speak).

Still, it's remarkable, and somewhat encouraging, the Mr. Rolex couldn't find a shrink who had actually examined him and was dishonest enough to fabricate the usual psychological excuse.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 14, 2013 5:16:22 PM

Those "babies" had an impact on the prosecutor-kings who rule the world:
"Prosecutors sought an 18-month prison sentence for Sandra Jackson. U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen has said the government could have come up with more serious charges against her than filing false joint federal income tax returns, but used discretion because the Jacksons have children."

Posted by: Thinkaboutit | Aug 14, 2013 8:23:23 PM

"Prosecutors sought an 18-month prison sentence for Sandra Jackson. U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen has said the government could have come up with more serious charges against her than filing false joint federal income tax returns, but used discretion because the Jacksons have children."

Ah, the Holder DOJ. Let's fight with kid gloves against a juiced-in pol's wife because of the children, but we'll try to hammer a guy in Idaho for defending his kids against a grizzly bear.

They should have both gotten maxed out.

Posted by: federalist | Aug 14, 2013 10:15:48 PM

Thinkaboutit --

My point was that there's a big difference between "babies" and "children." Taking a mother away from "babies" is one thing. Taking her away from a 9 year-old and a 13 year-old is different, and certainly has a different emotional undertow -- which is exactly why she used the intentionally misleading word "babies."

Also, I don't know why you're criticizing the prosecutors for taking account of the family. What I see here again and again is that prosecutors are brutal and heartless if the DON'T take account of it. Which is it?

I also note that you don't dispute anything I said about the point-blank lies that the defense put forth here. Do you really think a judge should tolerate aggressive lying by the defendant and NOT consider that in sentencing?

I think you know quite well that neither Mr. or Mrs. Rolex is a whit sorry for what they did, and is sorry only that they got caught at it.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 14, 2013 11:49:21 PM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB