Former congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. has no money to pay a $750,000 fine and wants to serve his prison time first if he and his wife both go to jail, according to court documents.
Jackson, a one-time rising Democratic Party star from Illinois, admitted last year to using $750,000 in campaign money to buy groceries and pay for luxury items, including a gold-plated men's Rolex watch and memorabilia that once belonged to Michael Jackson and Martin Luther King Jr.
Federal prosecutors earlier this month recommended afour-year prison term for Jackson and 18 months in jail for Sandi Jackson, who pleaded guilty to falsifying the couple's tax returns over a six-year period. The government also wants Jackson to repay his campaign the amount used for personal purposes.
Jackson and his wife, a former Chicago alderman, are scheduled to be sentenced in early July. They have two children.
"Mr. Jackson has no ability to pay a fine," his attorneys told the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, in documents filed Monday.
A report for the federal court determined Jackson and his wife "have a negative monthly cash flow" with a net worth that is less than $750,000. The couple have equity in their Chicago and Washington, D.C., houses, two retirement accounts and their cars.
Because of the family's financial situation, Jackson's attorneys asked the court for the former congressman to serve his prison time first. The court filings say Jackson, who was treated at the Mayo Clinic last year for bipolar disorder, is unable to work.
"Mr. Jackson's health issues preclude him from working at this time," his attorneys wrote. "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 period it is in today."
Jackson, 48, was first elected to Congress in 1995. He resigned from Illinois' 2nd Congressional District seat in November, shortly after winning re-election. Jackson was on medical leave from the House last summer when acknowledged that he had been seeking treatment for bipolar disorder.
Jackson's father, Jesse Jackson Sr., is the noted civil rights leader.