Former Democrat Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. and his wife Sandi were sentenced today.
Before we discuss that, let's examine the felonies they were convicted of.
Jesse Jr. was convicted of using over $750,000 in campaign funds as his personal piggy bank. Among other things, he used the money for a $43,000 Rolex watch, furs, luxury trips to Las Vegas and other locations, two mounted elk heads and memorabilia ranging from a Michael Jackson fedora to an Eddie Van Halen guitar.
Sandi Jackson, a former C hicago alderwoman was convicted of income tax evasion, failing to report over $600,000 in taxable income over a period of several years.
Since both were caught red handed, the defense attempted to use the insanity defense, claiming that Jesse Jr. was bi-polar. But as the prosecutor pointed out, that sort of defense is normally accompanied by expert witness testimony. Not a single shrink had appeared in the case to show that Jesse Jr. was mentally ill, let alone his wife.
A parade of several interesting people publicly asked Federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson (no relation to the defendants) for mercy. Aside from Jesse Jackson, there was Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, and an official from the Teamsters Union. One can only imagine who approached the judge on Jesse Jr'.s behalf privately.
So for stealing three quarters of a million dollars and over a half million dollars worth of income tax fraud, what do you suppose the Jacksons received?
The prosecutors wanted four years in prison for him and wanted him to repay $750,000 to his old campaign fund in addition to the $750,000 money judgment forfeiture he agreed to when he pleaded guilty. They wanted 18 months for her.
For some reason I'll leave to your imagination, the federal attoneys didn't attempt a deal with Jesse Jr. to get him to rat about the wheeling and dealing for Barack Obama's Senate seat between former Governor Blagojevich and the White House Jesse Jr. was involved in.
Judge Jackson gave Jesse 30 months, two and a half years, which he'll spend on a minimum security prison farm. In addition, he won't have to repay the $750,000 back to his campaign. Jesse Jr. will probably be out in about two years.
Sandi Jackson got a year and a day, which was done deliberately so she wouldn't be eligible for time off for good behavior. She won't be paying any fines or penalties on her tax fraud.
Here's Jesse Jr.'s attorney, Reid Weingarten, arguing against any further restitution: “My client wants to be able to feed his children,” Weingarten said. “There are a limited amount of resources here.”
Jesse Jr. also took the opportunity to plead poverty. 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.”
Grandpa, by the way, is a millionaire a few times over. Shaking down corporate America as a race pimp pays pretty well.
These two hit the system for a total of $1,350,000. What do you think a car thief, a credit card fraudster or a simple bank robber without Jesse Jr.'s connections who stole a fraction of that amount would get? What would your average schmuck who cheated the IRS out of a relatively paltry $100,000 get? And trust me, it wouldn't be in any minimum security prison farm.
Oh, that thing my father of blessed memory told me? Four words: "Never steal anything small."