‘Guilty, your honour’


Washington – Dabbing at his eyes with a handkerchief, former US Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. pleaded guilty today to one federal charge related to using campaign funds for personal expenses.

“Guilty, your honour,” Jackson responded to US District Judge Robert Wilkins after looking back at family members in the courtroom, including his father, civil rights activist Jesse Jackson.

“I used monies that should have been used for campaign purposes,” Jackson acknowledged to the judge.

When Wilkins asked if he realised that the guilty plea meant giving up the right to a trial, Jackson responded: “I have no interest in wasting the taxpayers’ time or money.”

Wilkins set sentencing for June 28.

Jackson’s wife, former Chicago Alderman Sandra Stevens Jackson, had her own court appearance scheduled for a few hours later. She was expected to plead guilty to filing false tax returns.

Today’s hearing completed the fall of a once rising political star from Chicago. He won won re-election to Congress last year despite personal problems, including a mood disorder that caused him to drop out of sight for months during the campaign.

Asked standard legal questions by Wilkins to ensure he was of sound mind to enter his plea, Jackson said he had been hospitalised and acknowledged being treated by a psychiatrist.

His treatment was not for alcohol or drug abuse, Jackson said, adding that he had a beer on Tuesday night but “I have never been more clear in my life than I am now.”

“I fully understand the consequences of my actions,” he said.

Guilty plea

Jackson pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, mail fraud and false statements.

That charge carries a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, but Wilkins noted that prosecutors and defense attorneys said sentencing guidelines indicated an appropriate sentence of 46 to 57 months in prison and a fine of between $10,000 and $100,000.

However, Wilkins said he was not bound by sentencing guidelines, telling Jackson: “The bottom line is, I don’t know what sentence you’re going to get and you don’t know what sentence you’re going to get.” (CNN)

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