Sweet: Jesse Jackson Jr. wants to serve time before wife Sandi
BY LYNN SWEET Washington bureau chief June 17, 2013 4:08PM
Updated: June 18, 2013 5:25AM
WASHINGTON — Jesse Jackson Jr. wants to serve his time first if he and wife Sandi are sent to prison, with the request on Monday coming as prosecutors said the couple does not deserve any sentencing breaks because of the “good works” they did while elected officials.
U.S. District Court Judge Ann Berman Jackson — no relation — will sentence Jesse Jackson Jr., a former member of Congress, and Sandi Jackson, a former Chicago alderman, on July 3. The couple pleaded guilty in February to looting their campaign funds of $750,000 over seven years. Sandi Jackson also faced income tax evasion charges.
After the extravagant spending spree, the couple is broke, their lawyers told the court.
Lawyers for both Jacksons, in asking for leniency, argued in memos filed on June 7 — supplemented with letters from constituents — that they were worthy of shorter sentences because of all the “good works” they did while in public office.
In particular, Jesse Jackson Jr. cited his work on civil rights, bringing safer drinking water and federal funds to his South and South suburban district, addressing minority health disparities and securing funds for war-torn nations.
Rebuttal memos were due on Monday and federal prosecutors, in their replies said the Jacksons’ do not deserve extra credit for doing their jobs.
“It is an elected official’s job to perform good works on behalf of his constituents,” prosecutors said in Jesse Jackson Jr.’s memo.
Making the same point for Sandi Jackson, they wrote she should not get less time “merely for doing her job as a public servant.”
Prosecutors asked the judge for four years for the former lawmaker and 18 months for Sandi Jackson. Her attorneys on June 7 asked for probation; his lawyers pleaded for an unspecified shorter sentence.
In their rebuttal, prosecutors tore into another argument advanced by attorneys for Jesse Jackson Jr.: that his bipolar disorder justifies a shorter sentence.
Lawyers for Jesse Jackson Jr. provided skimpy evidence to back their mental illness claims, the prosecutors said.
Two doctors provided a combined “three-and-a-half pages of letters” in the June 7 memo that were “surprisingly bereft of detail about why the relief is warranted,” the prosecutors wrote.
Earlier this year, prosecutors told Judge Jackson they may call their own witnesses to challenge any mental- illness claims the former lawmaker may make in asking for a reduced sentence.
But they did not and their Monday memo reveals the probable reason — the Jackson doctors put so little on the table that prosecutors did not have much to challenge to make their point.
Last Friday, lawyers for Jesse Jackson Jr. made public another reason that the former lawmaker should get a lenient sentence: because it is “unlikely” he would be able to establish a “trusting relationship” with a prison psychiatrist.
In reply, prosecutors noted “neither doctor opines” about the treatments or medications Jesse Jackson Jr. should require, the prosecutors noted.
Bureau of Prison doctors “requested information about defendant’s current treatment regimen” the prosecutors said, but never heard from doctors treating Jesse Jackson Jr.
The Jacksons have two children, 9 and 13, who attend private school here.
As for the staggered sentencing request, earlier this month the prosecutors offered to allow Sandi Jackson to serve her time first in order for the boy and girl not to be without a parent.
In asking to go to prison first, Jesse Jackson Jr. lawyers said, “Mr. Jackson’s health issues preclude him from working at this time.
“If he serves his period of incarceration first, Mrs. Jackson would be able to work and could stabilize the family’s finances.
“By the time Mr. Jackson completes his sentence, the family would not be in the significant financial peril it is in today. ….the strain of waiting to begin serving his sentence would not be beneficial to Mr. Jackson’s state of mind or mental health.”
Jesse Jackson’s lawyers are also asking that he not have to pay $750,000 in restitution to his campaign fund and that the $750,000 “forfeiture” should be enough.
The Jackson’s have a “negative” cash flow and “Mr. Jackson has no ability to pay a fine,” his lawyers stated.
Jackson’s “net worth is lower than the amount of the agreed-upon forfeiture ($750,000), and is largely made up of the equity in their homes in Chicago and Washington, two retirement accounts and their automobiles,” the lawyers said.