Reporting Jay Levine
Updated 02/08/13 – 11:57 a.m.
(CBS) – Former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. has signed a plea deal with federal prosecutors, a deal which calls for him to plead guilty to misuse of campaign funds and let a federal judge determine whether he serves any time in prison, CBS 2 has learned.
Three separate sources with knowledge of the deal have helped piece together details of the “blind plea” deal. Barring last-minute changes, Jackson would plead guilty to a single felony count and leave his fate in the hands of the judge, CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports.
Sources confirmed the deal has been signed by Jackson, and his punishment could range from probation to five years in prison.
Former prosecutor Ron Safer has been on both sides of plea deals. Commenting on the Jackson plea deal, he said, “It says to me that, for whatever reason, the U.S. Attorney in Washington was convinced that justice could be served with a charge that would result in no jail time.”
The former congressman would also agree to repay hundreds of thousands of dollars spent over a four-year-period for things like a $40,000 men’s Rolex watch he bought for himself, as well as clothing, meals and travel expenses.
The government also demanded that he resign from Congress, which he already did, and agree to let a federal judge determine his punishment, which according to the agreement could range from probation to 5 years in prison.
“He addressed his mental health issues, he resigned from the Congress, he’s doing everything he can to make the government happy,” CBS 2 legal analyst Irv Miller says. “He’s willing to make restitution, so he’s basically saying, ‘Hey, listen, I’ve stepped up to the plate, I’ve done everything I can, give me a break.’”
The only thing Jackson’s father, the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., would say about his son’s case Thursday was, “It’s painful.”
Still unclear is the fate of the younger Jackson’s wife, Sandi, who was both the congressman’s campaign manager and paid consultant. Last month, she resigned from city council to be with her children, who go to school in Washington.
In his letter of resignation, the former congressman sought to protect her, and in his words, “They are my mistakes and my mistakes alone.” But his statement in the plea agreement required by prosecutors will say she knew about the improper use of campaign funds.
Sandi Jackson is now represented by attorney Dan Webb, who first counseled her husband, before stepping aside when it became clear a plea deal was in the works.
At this point, there’s no indication prosecutors will charge Sandi Jackson for anything except co-signing tax returns that should have included taxes on Jesse’s campaign funds converted to personal use.
No court date has been set for Jackson Jr.