State News

Ex-congressman reports to North Carolina prison

Posted October 29, 2013 11:50 a.m. EDT
Updated October 29, 2013 6:02 p.m. EDT

— Former Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. has reported to a federal prison in Butner to serve a 2½-year prison term for misusing campaign funds, his lawyer and prison officials said Tuesday.

The 48-year-old Chicago Democrat was in federal custody Tuesday morning, according to Bureau of Prisons spokesman Chris Burke. He declined to offer details, including when Jackson had initially reported to prison.

Atlanta attorney and longtime family friend Tricia Hoffler said Tuesday afternoon that Jackson tried to report Monday afternoon but that "an administrative issue" delayed that until Tuesday morning.

Jackson said goodbye to his family on Sunday and drove from Washington, D.C., to Butner on Monday, Hoffler said. She and Democratic 1st District Congressman G.K. Butterfield accompanied Jackson to the prison.

Butterfield said his former U.S. House colleague was in good spirits, "all things considered."

"The sooner he reports, the sooner he'll be able to get back home," Hoffler said.

Jackson, who pleaded guilty in February to conspiring to spend $750,000 in campaign funds on personal expenses, will serve his sentence in the minimum-security facility in Butner.

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

In her sentencing order written earlier this year, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington said Jackson would have "to surrender for service of sentence no earlier than Nov. 1, 2013." Hoffler said it's up to the Bureau of Prisons to determine when someone can report, and agency officials had no problem with him showing up early.

A Bureau of Prisons website says Jackson's inmate number is 32451-016.

He will have to complete an orientation and a physical examination before he is assigned to a work detail at the prison, officials said. That could take up to a month.

Minimum-security prisoners do groundskeeping and other work around the prison.

Jackson used campaign money to buy a $43,350 gold-plated, men's Rolex watch and $9,587.64 on children's furniture, according to court papers filed in the case. His wife spent $5,150 on fur capes and parkas, the document said.

Jackson asked to serve his time in Alabama, while his wife's attorney said she'd prefer a Florida prison. The U.S. Bureau of Prisons decided where Jackson is serving his term.

The son of a famed civil rights leader, Jackson, a Democrat, entered Congress in 1995 and resigned last November.

Financier Bernie Madoff, who was convicted of defrauding investors through a Ponzi scheme, also is serving his 150-year sentence at Butner.

Israeli spy Jonathon Pollard, World Trade Center bombing mastermind Omar Abdel-Rahman, former televangelist Jim Bakker, Hustler publisher Larry Flynt and John Hinckley, who tried to assassinate former President Ronald Reagan, also have spent time behind bars at the prison in Granville County.