CHICAGO, February 16, 2013 — Former Democratic Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. and his wife Sandi, a former Chicago alderman, were served up on a silver platter to the federal courts yesterday. It was as predictable as the sun rising and setting.
The Jacksons were charged in criminal information documents filed with the federal court in Chicago. The congressman is charged with mail fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud, and making false statements. He faces up to five years in prison, a $250,000 dollar fine, and other penalties including restitution.
Sandi Jackson is charged with one count of filing false income tax returns. She faces up to three years in prison, a $250,000 dollar fine, and other penalties including restitution.
Criminal information documents are used when there is a plea deal, no expectation of trial, and the only issues left are penalties. Once the information is filed, a judge will be picked to handle the matter. The Jackson’s attorney stated he would plead guilty to the charges.
Jesse Jackson, Jr. was accused of diverting over $750,000 dollars in campaign funds for personal use. The funds were allegedly used to purchase a $43,350 gold Rolex watch, $5,150 worth of fur capes and parkas, and $9,588 in children’s furniture between 2007-2009. Other purchases included $10,105 on Bruce Lee memorabilia, $11,130 on Martin Luther King memorabilia, and $22,700 on Michael Jackson items, including $4,600 for a “Michael Jackson fedora, all of which will probably be confiscated by authorities and sold.
The false statement allegation against Jackson concerns $28,000 dollars in gifts and loans he allegedly received and failed to report. Some of those gifts were alleged air transportation costs to and from Chicago for a blonde Washington, D.C. cocktail hostess with whom the congressman allegedly had an affair. A campaign bundler and friend of the canoodling congressman paid for the flights of the “social acquaintance.”
Sandi Jackson is accused of filing incorrect tax returns with her husband between 2006-2011 that “substantially” under reported their joint income with “substantial” taxes due. Her attorneys state she will plead guilty to one count of tax fraud.
The former congressman resigned last year, citing the investigation and his supposed poor mental health. The congressman claims he suffers from bi-polar disorder. His resignation was met with syrupy sympathy and accolades.
A special election will be held soon to replace him.
His wife, the alderman, resigned her position last month. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently appointed her replacement. The power-couple were a perfect representation of Chicago Machine politicians.
If the court accepts their pleas, the Jacksons will join a long, sordid line of felonious Chicago politicians convicted of crimes. Besides being the murder capital of the nation, Chicago is its corruption and political crime capital as well.
Another chapter is ending in the ongoing saga of Chicago corruption. Currently two elected state officials from Chicago are under indictment for political corruption and other financial misdeeds. It is a good bet others are being investigated.
Chicago’s history of political criminality go back to its very founding. The only thing that has changed over the centuries is the sophistication of Chicago’s politicians. Most of their corruption today is of an ethical nature versus an overtly criminal one, but as they skate close to the line, it is predictable that some will cross it and commit crimes.
The Jacksons can now be inducted into the Chicago Corruption Hall of Fame and Shame. Voters in Chicago must take a certain pride in their corrupt politicians. They keep electing and reelecting them, even when they are under investigation or indictment. Aldermen, congressman, state representatives, state senators, city and county officials, and a host of other corrupt luminaries have been returned to office despite their overt corruption and criminality. Even known associates of the Chicago crime syndicate have had their days in the political sun, all thanks to the voters.
Either Chicago voters are stupid or they are proud of their loveable criminal politicos. Either way, they have the government and governance they deserve.
It will not be long before letters, emails and petitions requesting sympathy and mercy for the Jacksons flood the federal courts and Bureau of Prisons. There will be pleas that they do no or little jail time, and that the court remember the Jackson children, who will be left parentless. It is a good bet some brave journalists will also write treacly letters on their behalf, and bravely demand that the court seal their letters so the public does not learn who they are.
Journalists did just that when Illinois political powerhouse Bill Cellini was up for sentencing for his long career of paying bribes to politicians of both parties and profiting from them. Journalists, some very well known, wrote letters on his behalf and demanded that the court seal them. For some unknown reason their demands were met. Unless the court unseals those letters, the public will never know who these journalists are. It seems that in Chicago, even the journalists are corrupt.
The Jacksons are typical in their petty corruption. What they did is not new, and is even expected and tolerated. The only real Chicago mortal sin they committed was violating the sacrosanct Eleventh Commandment, “Thou shalt not get caught”.
Peter V. Bella is a retired Chicago Police Officer, freelance journalist and photojournalist, cook, and raconteur. He likes to be the irreverent sharp stick that pokes, prods, and annoys. His opinions are his and his alone. Mr. Bella is a member of the National Press Photographers Association, Online News Association, Chicago Headline Club, and the Society for Professional Journalists.
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