Jackson Jr. to sell home to pay $750,000 forfeiture judgment
CHICAGO – Prison-bound former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. plans to sell his home in Washington, D.C., to help pay a $750,000 forfeiture judgment – part of his sentence for illegally dipping into his campaign coffers and spending the money on rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia, furs capes, vacations, TVs and scores of other personal items.
The Chicago Democrat’s attorneys and federal prosecutors mentioned the plan in a joint filing Friday in U.S. District Court in Washington. The three-page document adds that the cash-strapped son of civil rights leader Jesse Jackson would need more time to come up with money to pay the judgment.
Jackson, 48, is expected to enter prison within several weeks for the 2 1/2-year prison term that was imposed in August. His wife Sandra, a former Chicago alderman, was given a yearlong sentence for filing false income tax returns related to the misspent funds – though out of consideration for the couple’s two school-aged kids, she’ll serve her time after her husband is released.
The sale of the Jacksons’ Victorian-style town house on an upscale street in the nation’s capital could enable them to keep their Chicago home, which prosecutors also targeted for potential forfeiture. When the Jacksons briefly put the four-bedroom Washington home up for sale in 2012, they asked for $2.5 million. Property records this year assess its value at around $1.3 million.
One high-profile bid in which Jesse Jackson tried to raise money already fell through. A September online auction organized by the U.S. Marshals Service to sell part of his celebrity memorabilia collection was canceled after a few days when someone questioned the authenticity of a guitar purportedly signed by Michael Jackson and Eddie Van Halen. The ex-congressman had paid $4,000 in campaign funds for it.
“The parties agree that none of the items seized will be sold,” Friday’s filing says, referring to the auction.
Jackson admitted spending $750,000 of donors’ money on more than 3,000 personal items, including $60,857 at restaurants, nightclubs and lounges; $43,350 for a gold-plated men’s Rolex watch; and around $5,300 for mounted elk heads.
There’s no fixed deadline to pay the judgment in full. Jackson’s attorneys said this summer that he should be able to pay within three months, but the Friday morning filing noted that was no longer possible.
In a posting later Friday, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said she’d like a status report on payments by May 15.
Friday’s filing does say Jackson intends to liquidate an investment company account, which will put $200,000 toward the judgment by Nov. 1. The filing didn’t indicate how much more Jackson will need to raise.
In her written sentencing order earlier this year, the judge said Jackson would have “to surrender for service of sentence no earlier than Nov. 1, 2013.” But it wasn’t immediately clear if he would report to prison that day or within weeks of that date.
Messages seeking comment from Jackson’s Washington-based attorneys weren’t returned on Friday.
Jackson, who was once seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party in Illinois, represented his Chicago-area constituents in the House from 1995 until he resigned last November. He stepped down following months of speculation about his health and legal problems. Neither he nor his wife went to trial, agreeing instead to plead guilty early this year.