Jesse Jackson Jr. Pleads Guilty: 'For Years I Lived Off My Campaign'

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By Ashley Portero | February 21, 2013 4:44 AM EST

Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., pleaded guilty to misusing $750,000 worth of campaign funds for personal expenses, and will face prison time when he is sentenced this summer.

“Sir, for years I lived off my campaign,” Jackson told a federal judge in Washington, D.C. “I used money I shouldn’t have for personal purposes.”

As part of the plea deal, sentencing guidelines call for a prison sentence between 46 and 57 months, according to media reports. Jackson would not be eligible for probation.

Jackson was reportedly subdued during the court hearing, periodically dabbing his eyes with a tissue. The former congressman said he waived his right to trial because he had “no interest in wasting the taxpayers’ time or their money.”

Jackson resigned from office in November only 15 days after voters re-elected him for a 10th term. He had been noticeably absent from Capitol Hill for months before his departure while seeking treatment for bipolar disorder.

In his resignation letter Jackson cited ill health as his reason for leaving, but also acknowledged the existence of a federal criminal investigation into the possible misuse of campaign funds.

His wife, Sandi Jackson, is expected to plead guilty to filing false tax returns on Wednesday afternoon.

Jackson Jr. entered a negotiated plea of guilty on one felony count of conspiracy to commit false statements, wire fraud and mail fraud. Prosecutors also allege he spent campaign funds to purchase luxury items and memorabilia.

In particular, The Chicago Tribune reports he was accused of spending $43,350 on a Rolex watch, nearly $9,600 on children’s furniture and $5,150 on cashmere clothing.

The former congressman’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 28.  

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