WASHINGTON — Prosecutors Friday recommended four years in prison for former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., following his guilty plea this year on criminal charges that he engaged in a scheme to spend $750,000 in campaign funds on personal items.
The government suggested an 18-month sentence for Jackson's wife, Sandra, who pleaded guilty to filing false joint federal income tax returns that understated the couple's income.
The government is also recommending that Jackson pay $750,000 in restitution to the campaign and that Sandra Jackson make a restitution payment of $168,000.
Because the couple has two children, prosecutors proposed that the sentences be staggered, with Sandra Jackson going first. According to the government, she could be out of prison in little over a year with credit for satisfactory behavior and serving the end of her sentence in home confinement. Both Jacksons are scheduled to be sentenced on July 3.
Jesse Jackson's lawyer, meanwhile, asked the judge to sentence Jackson to a term below guidelines. Under federal sentencing guidelines, the range is 46 to 57 months in prison. The lawyer, Reid H. Weingarten, argued that Jackson's ongoing treatment for depression and bipolar disorder, his record of good works and his family and community ties all support leniency. Jacksons' sentencing memo includes about five pages of redacted material on his health issues, and a few redacted lines on other issues. Sandra Jackson's lawyer suggested that his client receive a sentence of probation.
Jackson, who had been a Democratic congressman from Illinois from 1995 until he resigned last November, used campaign money to buy items that included a $43,350 gold-plated men's Rolex watch and $9,587.64 worth of children's furniture, and his wife spent $5,150 on fur capes and parkas.
In Friday's 45-page sentencing memo, prosecutors urged the judge to take into account the advantages Jackson, the son of a famed civil rights leader, had in his life. Jackson "chose to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars despite having advantages in life and financial resources that few possess and that most can only dream of obtaining," the prosecutors wrote.
They noted that his yearly salary as a congressman ranged from $133,600 to $174,000, and that his wife's salary as Chicago alderman was also six figures. The memo said that Jackson's campaign paid his wife's consulting firm $5,000 a month during the time of the conspiracy – $340,500 in total.
"Before defendant or his wife stole a dime, they received substantial incomes," the government wrote, adding that in 2011, for example, their combined income was around $344,000 – putting them among the nation's high earners.
"This offense, at its core, is about greed and entitlement: defendant wanting more than even his substantial resources could afford him and believing he was entitled to both the items desired and campaign funds to purchase those items," the government said.
Prosecutors also argued that Jackson's behavior threatened to deter people from making campaign contributions and participating in the political process.
In a 22-page statement filed by prosecutors in February, Jackson admitted that he and his wife used campaign credit cards to buy 3,100 personal items worth $582,772.58 from 2005 through April 2012. Personal expenditures at restaurants, nightclubs and lounges amounted to $60,857.04. Personal expenditures at sports clubs and lounges were $16,058.91, including maintaining a family membership at a gym. Spending for alcohol was $5,814.43. Personal spending for dry cleaning was $14,513.42.
Prosecutors credited Jackson with cooperating with them in the investigation, which helped the government wrap up in weeks what could have taken months. While Jackson deserves credit for accepting responsibility and his level of cooperation, the government said, he already received that significant consideration in how the plea agreement was structured.
In Jackson's sentencing memo, his lawyer wrote that the former congressman's mental health may worsen under the stress of incarceration.
"During sentencing, federal courts have the authority to determine whether a defendant's mental illness warrants a below-guidelines sentence," Weingarten said.
"His public fall from grace has already made an example of him, warning other politicians and elected officials of the dangers of personal use of campaign funds," wrote Weingarten, who went on to detail Jackson's accomplishments in Congress and his help to others.
In a separate memorandum prepared for Sandra Jackson's sentencing, prosecutors said she was personally involved in the thefts, and they noted she served as treasurer of her husband's congressional campaign from January 2005 to November 2006. But prosecutors also credited her for cooperation and accepting responsibility.
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Earlier on HuffPost:
Former Illinois Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and his wife, Sandi, arrive at federal court in Washington, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013, to learn their fates when a federal judge sentences the one-time power couple for misusing $750,000 in campaign money on everything from a gold-plated Rolex watch and mink capes to vacations and mounted elk heads. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
In this Feb. 20, 2013 file photo, former Illinois Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr leaves federal court in Washington after he entered a guilty plea to criminal charges that he engaged in a scheme to spend $750,000 in campaign funds on personal items. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)
Former Illinois Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and his wife Sandi leave the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, after Jackson entered a guilty plea to criminal charges that he engaged in a scheme to spend $750,000 in campaign funds on personal items. Sandi also plead guilty to a related tax fraud charge. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. enters U.S. District Court February 20, 2013 in Washington, DC. Jackson and his wife, Sandi Jackson, pleaded guilty to federal charges after being accused of spending more than $750,000 in campaign funds to purchase luxury items, memorabilia and other goods. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
In this Thursday, Aug. 16, 2012 photo provided by the office of former U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, Kennedy, left, meets with U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. (AP Photo/Office of Patrick J. Kennedy)
In this April 4, 2012 file photo, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, right, and Rep Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill. tour the Ford Motor Company Stamping Plant in Chicago Heights, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)
In this March 20, 2012 file photo, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill. speaks in Chicago. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)
This March 20, 2012 file photo shows Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., his wife Chicago Alderman Sandi Jackson, and their children Jessica, 12, and Jesse III, 8, thanking supporters at his election night party in Chicago after his Democratic primary win over challenger, former Rep. Debbie Halvorson, in the Illinois' 2nd District. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)
This March 9, 2012 file photo shows Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. , D-Ill., and his wife, Chicago Alderman Sandi Jackson, asking each other for their support and votes as they arrive at a polling station for early voting in Chicago. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)
In this Oct. 16, 2011 file photo, Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., D-Ill., is seen during the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)
Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., D-Ill., talks to reporters after attending a Democratic caucus meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Aug. 1, 2011. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
In this Aug. 5, 2010 file photo, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., right, and his wife, Chicago Alderman Sandi Jackson, greet President Barack Obama at the Ford Motor Company Chicago Assembly Plant. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)
In this April 14, 2010 file photo, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., center, speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg, File)
In this March 21, 2010 file photo, Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., D-Ill., uses his PDA to photograph demonstrators outside on the U.S. Capitol as the House prepares to vote on health care reform in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)
This photo taken March 31, 2009 shows Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill. on Capitol Hill in Washington. Jackson is the subject of a preliminary inquiry from a congressional ethics board looking into his attempts to be appointed to the Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
In this Monday, Aug. 25, 2008 picture, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., speaks at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)
Jesse Jackson Jr. and Sandi Jackson in 2007.
FILE - In this Nov. 9, 2006 file picture, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., speaks at a news conference in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)
Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., on hand for former President George W. Bush's signing of the Rosa Parks statue bill in 2005.
President Bush picks up 2-year-old Jesse Jackson III after signing a bill authorizing a statue of civil rights leader Rosa Parks be placed in the U.S. Capitol's Statuary Hall, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2005, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. Cong. Jesse Jackson Jr. is at left. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)
U.S. Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) is interviewed by U.S. funded Arabic language television station corresspondent Sara Hessenflow at the 2004 Democratic National Convention July 27, 2004 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) gets interviewed by a television crew follow a meeting of the Illinois delegation for the Democratic National Convention July 26, 2004 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., speaks to attendees of the United Negro College Fund's annual Martin Luther King Jr. Festival at the Minneapolis Convention Center Monday, Jan. 15, 2001. (AP Photo/Adam M. Bettcher)
Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., left, "chokes" coach Rep. Martin Olav Sabo, D-Minn. prior to the start of the 37th annual Congressional Baseball game at Prince George's Stadium in Bowie, Md. Tuesday June 23, 1998. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Kweisi Mfume, right, greets Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., before the State of the Union Address Tuesday, Feb. 4, 1997, at the Capitol. (AP Photo/Doug Mills)
Two generations of Jacksons and Sununus prepare to debate the issues facing the 105th Congress before the start of CNN's "Crossfire" Wednesday, Jan. 8, 1997 in Washington. From left are the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., Rep. John Sununu Jr., R-N.H., and John Sununu. (AP Photo/Tyler Mallory)
Rev. Jesse Jackson hugs his son Jesse Jackson Jr. after being introduced to speak to delegates at the United Center Tuesday, Aug. 27, 1996, in Chicago during the Democratic National Convention. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)
In this Dec. 14, 1995 file photo, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., right, gets a kiss from his mother, Jacqueline Jackson, after re-enacting taking the oath of office, on Capitol Hill in Washington. The 30-year-old lawyer, and son of civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson, won a special election to succeed imprisoned ex-Rep. Mel Reynolds. The sweep of Jesse Jackson Jr.'s life, from golden boy who could be president to broken politician, will be laid out for a federal judge in Washington, D.C., Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013, as she sentences him and his wife Sandra for misusing $750,000 in campaign money on a gold-plated Rolex watch, mink capes, mounted elk heads and other personal items. (AP Photo/Doug Mills, File)
Democrat Jesse Jackson Jr., left, thanks supporters as his father, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, right, looks on Tuesday night, Dec. 12, 1995, in Matteson, Ill. (AP Photo/Michael S. Green)
Jesse Jackson Jr. reads to toddlers at Operation Headstart during a campaign appearance in Chicago Heights, Ill., on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 1995. (Charles Bennett)
Jesse Jackson Jr., center, receives a kiss from his wife, Sandi, as the returns solidly show Jackson as the winnner in the 2nd Congressional District primary, Tuesday night, Nov. 28, 1995, in Markham, Ill. Jackson's father, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, is behind his son at right. (AP Photo/Beth A. Keiser)
The Rev. Jesse Jackson, center, poses for pictures with sons Jesse Jr., left, and Jonathan, right, after they graduated from North Carolina A&T, May 9, 1988, at the Greensboro Coliseum, and Jackson Sr. gave the commencement address. (AP Photo/Dennis Cook)
Jesse Jackson Jr., left, son of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, shown with film director Spike Lee at a luncheon with the candidate at Sylvia’s restaurant in the Harlem section of New York on April 10, 1988. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)