CHICAGO (AP) — Former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr plans to sell his home in Washington, DC, to help pay a US$750,000 forfeiture judgment — part of his sentence for illegally dipping into his campaign coffers and spending the money on rock 'n' roll memorabilia, furs capes, vacations, TVs and scores of other personal items.
The Chicago Democrat's attorneys and federal prosecutors mentioned the plan in a joint filing Friday in US District Court in Washington. The three-page document adds that the cash-strapped son of civil rights leader Jesse Jackson would need more time to come up with money to pay the judgment.
Jackson, 48, entered yesterday for the 2 1/2-year prison term that was imposed in August. His wife Sandra, a former Chicago alderman, was given a yearlong sentence for filing false income tax returns related to the misspent funds — though out of consideration for the couple's two school-aged kids, she'll serve her time after her husband is released.
The sale of Jacksons' Victorian-style town house on an upscale street in the nation's capital could enable them to keep their Chicago home, which prosecutors also targeted for potential forfeiture. When the Jacksons briefly put the four-bedroom Washington home up for sale in 2012, they asked for US$2.5 million. Property records this year assess its value at around $1.3 million.
One high-profile bid in which Jesse Jackson tried to raise money already fell through. A September online auction organised by the US Marshals Service to sell part of his celebrity memorabilia collection was cancelled after a few days when someone questioned the authenticity of a guitar purportedly signed by Michael Jackson and Eddie Van Halen. The ex-congressman had paid US$4,000 in campaign funds for it.
"The parties agree that none of the items seized will be sold," Friday's filing says, referring to the auction.
Jackson admitted spending US$750,000 of donors' money on more than 3,000 personal items, including US$60,857 at restaurants, nightclubs and lounges; US$43,350 for a gold-plated men's Rolex watch; and around US$5,300 for mounted elk heads.
There's no fixed deadline to pay the judgment in full. Jackson's attorneys said this summer that he should be able to pay within three months, but the Friday morning filing noted that was no longer possible. In a posting later Friday, US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said she'd like a status report on payments by May 15.
Jackson, who was once seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party in Illinois, represented his Chicago-area constituents in the House from 1995 until he resigned last November. He stepped down following months of speculation about his health and legal problems. Neither he nor his wife went to trial, agreeing instead to plead guilty early this year.