WASHINGTON (CBS) – Federal prosecutors have recommended former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. be sentenced to four years in prison, and his wife, former Ald. Sandi Jackson, get 18 months behind bars, though they also suggested a judge should not send them both to prison at the same time.
The Jacksons have two children, ages 9 and 13, and federal prosecutors suggested their prison terms should be staggered so Sandi would go to prison first, then Jesse.
In sentencing memos filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., on Friday, federal prosecutors estimated, with good behavior, Sandi Jackson could be out of prison in little more than a year after she surrenders to custody.
Jackson Jr’s lawyers responded by asking for leniency and a lesser sentence than the prosecutors recommend.
Jesse Jackson Jr. has pleaded guilty to misusing $750,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses, while Sandi has pleaded guilty to failing to report that money as income on their tax returns. The two resigned from their elected offices before pleading guilty.
Federal prosecutors noted the Jacksons have cooperated with the investigation, and deserve consideration in sentencing. They said, had Jesse fought the charges, it could have taken more than a year to get a conviction.
“Where the potential for harm to Defendant’s family is real, modestly delaying Defendant’s surrender date is an appropriate way of recognizing Defendant’s cooperation and acceptance of responsibility,” prosecutors wrote.
Meantime, the court in D.C. pushed back the Jacksons’ sentencing hearing from July 1 to July 3.
Prosecutors also have recommended Jesse be ordered to pay $750,000 in restitution to the campaign fund, pay an additional $750,000 in forfeiture, and serve three years of supervised release when he gets out of prison. They recommended Sandi pay $168,550.01 in restitution, and serve one year of supervised release after completing her prison term.
They also asked the court to appoint an independent monitor to oversee Congressman Jackson’s campaign fund going forward, “to ensure a proper wind down” of any remaining funds, as well as the money he repays to the fund.
“Defendant, who as the candidate had primary decision-making authority with respect to the Campaign, should no longer have any role with the Campaign. The lack of leadership has recently manifested itself with the Campaign missing filings required by law.”
Prosecutors noted the Jacksons decided to loot money that had been donated to the congressman’s campaign fund – which should have been used to pay for his re-election efforts – “despite having advantages in life and financial resources that few possess and that most can only dream of obtaining.”
In their filings, federal prosecutors emphasized that Sandi Jackson’s actions were not limited to simply benefitting from her husband’s theft of campaign funds.
“In fact, she stole a lot. In excess of $170,000 of the funds stolen from the Congressional Campaign were charged on the credit card issued to Defendant by the Congressional Campaign,” they wrote.
Prosecutors further revealed Sandi Jackson stole $22,000 from her own campaign fund to use for personal expenses.
The Jacksons’ defense team had not yet filed their own sentencing memos as of 2:30 p.m. Chicago time. They must file their recommendations by the end of the day.