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Jesse Jackson Jr pleads guilty to misuse of campaign funds

Former congressman Jesse Jackson Jr used $750,000 in campaign funds to buy a men's gold Rolex watch, a fur cape and celebrity memorabilia, a court heard.

Jesse jackson jr charges 02 15 2013Enlarge
U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) talks to constituents at a town hall meeting August 18, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. (Scott Olson/AFP/Getty Images)

US Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr pleaded guilty on Wednesday to using $750,000 in campaign funds to buy lavish personal items including a Rolex watch, fur cape and celebrity memorabilia. 

Supported in the US District Court in Washington by his father, civil rights leader Jess Jackson Sr, and other family who sat in the front row, the 47-year-old was emotional during the hour-long hearing, The New York Times reported.

When Judge Robert Wilkins asked for his plea, Jackson said: “Guilty your honor. I misled the American people.” 

He then wept quietly as the judge accepted the plea, Reuters reported.

Jackson's wife, ex-Chicago Alderwoman Sandi Jackson, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of willingly filing a false tax return, the Chicago Tribune reported.

More from GlobalPost: Ex-lawmaker Jesse Jackson Jr charged with fraud

Jackson, a\ former Democratic congressman from Illinois, was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, mail fraud and false statements. 

According to court documents, Jackson used campaign credit cards for $582,772 in personal expenditures. Among his purchases were a gold-plated men's Rolex watch costing about $43,000 and almost $10,000 in children's furniture., CNN reported.

The offences occurred from August 2005 to July 2012.

The guilty plea is yet another sad chapter in the fall from grace of the one-time rising star in Democratic politics. He resigned under a cloud in November last year after 17 years in the House of Representatives, and took a leave of absence from Congress last June to receive treatment for bipolar disorder. 

Under an agreement with prosecutors, Jackson faces up to five years jail, Reuters reported. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 28.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/130220/jesse-jackson-jr-pleads-guilty-misuse-campaign-f