Former Illinois Representative Jesse Jackson Jr., once one of the most promising black politicians in the United States, reported to federal prison on Monday to begin serving a 2-1/2 year sentence for misusing campaign funds, according to a family spokeswoman.
Jackson, a former Democratic representative and the son of civil rights leader the Reverend Jesse Jackson Sr., entered a federal correctional facility in Butner, North Carolina, family spokeswoman Bunnie Jackson-Ransom said in a statement.
“I am happy to report that he is in good spirits, all things considered,” said North Carolina Representative G.K. Butterfield, who accompanied Jackson to the prison, according to the statement.
Jackson pleaded guilty in February to misusing about $750,000 in campaign funds on luxuries such as fur capes, celebrity memorabilia, mounted elk heads and a Rolex watch.
When he reported to prison on Monday, “Congressman Jackson apologized again and expressed sincere regret for causing so much pain and sadness to his family, his constituents and his friends,” the statement said.
His wife, Sandi, a former Chicago city council member, was sentenced to one year for falsifying tax returns that failed to report the campaign money as income. The couple has two children. The judge ordered Sandi Jackson to report to prison 30 days after Jackson Jr. is released to reduce the impact on the children.
Jackson Jr. served in Congress from 1995 until he resigned after re-election last year, citing health reasons.
He disappeared from public view in the summer of 2012 and speculation swirled for weeks about his condition. At first Jackson Jr. said he was being treated for exhaustion, and his doctor said in July 2012 said he was being treated for a “mood disorder.”
He eventually was treated for at least six weeks at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, for bipolar disorder.
Jackson Jr. also was sentenced to three years supervised release and ordered to perform 500 hours of community service. Sandi Jackson was given 12 months supervised release and 200 hours of community service.
(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)