Guilty pleas expected from Jesse Jackson Jr. & wife over 'lavish' spending

Then-Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., D-Ill., in August 2011.

Karen Bleier /AFP/Getty Images

Then-Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., D-Ill., in August 2011.

Former Democratic Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.'s once-bright political career is expected to officially end Wednesday morning in a Washington, D.C., courtroom.

As NPR's David Schaper tells our Newscast Desk, the son of Rev. Jesse Jackson is expected to plead guilty to a federal criminal charge that he used campaign funds on lavish personal expenses. The younger Jackson's wife, former Chicago alderwoman Sandi Jackson, is expected to plead guilty later today to having knowingly filed false tax returns.

It was just last Friday, as Eyder reported, when Jackson Jr. was charged with misuse of campaign funds and word broke that he was expected to plead guilty. The Chicago congressman had resigned his seat last November — shortly after winning reelection — as allegations grew that he had used campaign money to purchase, among other things, a $43,000 watch, a $4,600 fedora once worn by Michael Jackson and $5,000 worth of furs.

All told, it's estimated that about $750,000 of campaign funds were misspent on personal goods and services.

Today's court hearing could reveal more details about Jackson Jr.'s "alleged crime spree," says the Chicago Tribune. It adds that "attorneys familiar with public corruption investigations said the amount of campaign cash allegedly converted to personal use in this case is the largest of any that they can remember."

"Sentencing is not expected for several weeks," writes the Tribune. "Jackson Jr. faces up to five years in prison, while [his wife] faces up to three years, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia." They have two children, according to the newspaper: "a 12-year-old daughter and a 9-year-old son."

Jackson Jr., 47, spent most of 2012 away from his office on a medical leave. It was later revealed that he was being treated for bipolar depression.

We'll watch for news from today's court hearing and update this post later.

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