Jesse Jackson Jr. lawyers link crime to disorder
By Lynn Sweet Washington Bureau Chief Twitter: @lynnsweet June 14, 2013 9:48PM
Jesse Jackson Jr.
Updated: July 16, 2013 6:38AM
WASHINGTON — Lawyers for Jesse Jackson Jr., in asking a judge for a lenient sentence, are arguing that his lavish spending sprees — paid for by money looted from his campaign fund — were tied to his bipolar disorder.
The attorneys also are pleading for a shorter sentence by arguing that Jesse Jackson Jr. will “unlikely” be able to relate to a prison psychiatrist and as a consequence, his mental health may suffer.
“It is unlikely that Mr. Jackson will be able to establish a trusting relationship with a Bureau of Prisons psychiatrist quickly enough to maintain his progress toward improved mental health,” the lawyers said in newly revealed portions of their sentencing memo.
On Friday, lawyers for Jesse Jackson Jr. took an unusual step and put on the public record some — but not all — information about the mental health of the former lawmaker that they had literally blacked out of the public version of a sentencing memo filed a week ago.
However the audience that counts the most — U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson (no relation), who will sentence Jesse Jackson Jr. and his wife, Sandi, the former alderman on July 3 — was given the complete memo on June 7 with nothing blanked out.
The Jacksons pled guilty in February to crimes related to stealing $750,000, most of it through the looting of their campaign funds, and in the case of Sandi Jackson, failing to pay income taxes on the money she stole.
Reid Weingarten, an attorney for Jesse Jackson, signaled in February, at a press conference following the guilty plea, that he would be arguing that Jesse Jackson’s mental illness was responsible for the lavish purchases — including a $43,350 gold-plated Rolex and sports and political memorabilia.
In the newly revealed portions of the sentencing memo, Jesse Jackson’s lawyers state that “psychiatric research has tied compulsive purchasing and spending to mood episodes in individuals with bipolar disorders.”
The memo also includes letters from two of his “treating psychiatrists,” dealing with his “diagnosis, treatment and prognosis”; neither the letters nor the names of the doctors were made part of the public record.
One of Jesse Jackson’s doctors diagnosed him as suffering from “mood disorder not otherwise specified,” “probably Bipolar II.”
The two doctors said that if Jesse Jackson does not receive “continued mental health treatment,” then “his progress will cease, and he will be much more likely to relapse. With effective treatment, his prognosis for good mental health will be significantly improved.”
Last week, federal prosecutors asked that Jesse Jackson Jr. be sentenced to four years with 18 months for Sandi Jackson. Her lawyers asked for probation.