Jesse Jackson Jr.reports to North Carolina prison

CHICAGO — Former Illinois U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. has entered a North Carolina federal prison at least several days early to begin serving a 2 1/2-year prison term for illegally spending $750,000 in campaign money on everything from cigars to mounted elk heads and a gold watch, a prison official said Tuesday.

Jackson, 48, was in custody Tuesday morning as Inmate No. 32451-016, said Bureau of Prisons spokesman Chris Burke. He declined to say exactly when the son of civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson, reported.

Court documents were never clear about when Jackson must report. In her sentencing order this year, Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington said only that he would have “to surrender … no earlier than Nov. 1.”

By not announcing in advance when he’d report, Jackson avoided the crush of media that swirled around other prison-bound Illinois politicians. Helicopters hovered above and cars filled with journalists trailed ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich when he reported to a Colorado prison last year to serve a 14-year term for corruption.

Jackson reported to Butner Correctional Center, located in a heavily wooded area 30 miles north of Raleigh, N.C. His fellow inmates include Wall Street fraudster Bernie Madoff and ex-Chicago police Lt. Jon Burge, convicted of lying about police torture of suspects, according to the Bureau of Prisons. The sprawling complex includes high- and low-level security sections, and it’s unclear if Jackson will have contact with Madoff and Burge.

The former legislator with a fondness for luxury goods will be assigned a cell — possibly sharing it with other convicts. Jackson also must perform a menial job working for less than a dollar an hour; mopping floors or other maintenance duties are typically assigned to new inmates, according to a Butner orientation guide.

The life of the once-rising star of Illinois Democratic politics will be highly regimented. That includes a 6 a.m. wakeup call each day and frequent head counts.

Jackson’s wife, Sandi, was given a yearlong sentence for filing false tax returns. In a concession to their two school-age children, the judge allowed the Jacksons to stagger their sentences.

The couple chose not to go to trial, and both entered guilty pleas early this year.

As part of his plea, Jesse Jackson acknowledged spending his 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.

Jackson asked to serve his time in Alabama, while his wife’s attorney said she’d prefer a Florida prison. But the U.S. Bureau of Prisons made the final decision.

A joint filing last week from defense lawyers and prosecutors indicated Jesse Jackson plans to sell his home in Washington, D.C., to help pay a $750,000 forfeiture judgment. It also said the cash-strapped Jackson would need more time to come up with money to pay the judgment.

One high-profile bid in which Jackson tried to raise money has already fallen 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.

Jesse Jackson 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.

More in Local News

Minutes mattered the day Pat Ward was brought back to life

The Mukilteo police and fire chaplain died at breakfast. She got a second chance thanks to a waitress.

Cool additions at an elementary school in Everett

A totem pole and new gardens grace the courtyard of Whittier Elementary School.

Kids suspected in school’s smashed windows and other damage

The cost of the damage at Explorer Middle School in south Everett is estimated to be $5,000.

Recall issued for about 1,250 pounds of meat

Camano Island’s Sausage Haus products might be contaminated.

3 women seek open seat in 39th District

The GOP nominees hope to fill the opening created by the resignation of Republican John Koster.

Lake Stevens High senior has an entrepreneurial mind

John Cramer crafts and sells designer pens to help pay for college

Marysville-Arlington fiber-optic link planned by Comcast

The high-speed internet line, to be ready next year, is seen as a boost for business development.

Front Porch

EVENTS Health fairs A Senior Healthy Living Fair is set for noon… Continue reading

Cellphone carrier substation in Snohomish vandalized

Detectives with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office are investigating a… Continue reading

Most Read