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If Jesse Jackson Jr. tells a judge he stole and stole from his campaign fund because he couldn't control himself, he wouldn't be the first.

Arguing you're a shopaholic, believe it or not, has been used to a degree of success in federal court.

(In case you missed it, read Sunday's Sun-Times story on Jesse Jackson Jr. using illness to get break on sentence.)

In 2003, Elizabeth Roach of Chicago was convicted of embezzling $250,000 from her job at then-Andersen Consulting. Her defense at sentencing: She was a shopaholic. Depression led her to shop compulsively, she argued, including for a $7,000 belt buckle and $3,000 earrings at Neiman Marcus.

Prosecutors in D.C. have said they want to have their own experts evaluate Jackson, which isn't unusual. On Friday, the U.S. Attorney's office had no further comment and so far haven't filed anything publicly on the merits of Jackson's bipolar depression. Jackson and his wife are scheduled for a July 1st sentencing. Though the two agreed to a sentencing range in a plea deal, their lawyers are free to ask for less time.

The ex-congressman's top lawyer, Reid Weingarten, had said his client's behavior -- embezzling $750,000 from his campaign fund to lavish himself and his wife with a $40,000 Rolex watch, spending $5,000 on four mink and fur capes in one day, rare memorabilia, and pricey vacations -- was directly linked to his illness.

In legal circles, asking a judge to give a break in a prison term due to illness comes with the territory. Check out Max Rust's graphic for how this has worked in the past. Click Here

Friday court hearing set in Jesse Jackson Jr. case

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7-15-05 Jesse L. Jackson Jr. 2120 East 71 St Street. Chicago, Illinois. Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr outside his office in 2005. Photo by Scott Stewart/Sun-Times (Ditigal Image)

A status hearing in the Jesse Jackson Jr. criminal case is scheduled for Friday -- days after the Jacksons were assigned a new judge as they face sentencing in the Washington D.C. federal courthouse.

According to court records, a status conference is set for 10 a.m. on Friday before the new judge in the case -- U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson.

A notation in the court docket says that lawyers can attend by phone and that Jackson's presence, as well as his wife's, is waived. It's typical in federal court that after pleading guilty a defendant doesn't have to show up again until sentencing.

Jesse Jackson Jr., the former South Shore congressman, pleaded guilty to looting his campaign fund with his wife, Sandi Jackson, a former Chicago alderman.

Jesse Jackson Jr. gets new sentencing judge

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Disgraced former congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. now has a new judge who will handle his sentencing in late June.

Court records show that the case has been reassigned to U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson.

The previous judge, U.S. District Judge Robert Wilkins, earlier raised the issue that he had known the Jackson family and even had done some work on the Rev. Jesse Jackson's campaign for president.
Jackson resigned last year amid a federal investigation and pleaded guilty to bribery charges in February.

Jackson's sentencing is set for June 28.

Wilkins issued this statement in the court record in February to flag his ties to the Jackson family. He said though he did work for the Rev. Jackson, he could remain impartial. "The Court does not have any bias or personal interest in this case based on these circumstances,
and one could certainly argue, based on the precedent cited above, that these circumstances do
not fall into the category in which a reasonable, well-informed person "might reasonably
question" the Court's impartiality," Wilkins wrote then.

However, the court docket entry on Tuesday noted that the case had been "randomly" reassigned.

Here is how Wilkins described his ties to the Jackson family.
"In 1988, while a law student, Judge Wilkins served as a co-chair of
Harvard Law School students supporting the presidential campaign of Rev. Jesse
L. Jackson, Sr., and on October 24, 1988, Judge Wilkins introduced Rev. Jackson
when he came to speak at a campus event supporting the presidential candidacy of
Governor Michael Dukakis. On March 21, 1999, while an attorney, Judge
Wilkins appeared as a guest on a show hosted by Rev. Jackson on the CNN
network entitled "Both Sides with Jesse Jackson" to discuss a civil rights lawsuit
in which Judge Wilkins was a plaintiff. Judge Wilkins believes that he has
spoken to Rev. Jackson only on these two occasions, and he does not believe that
he has ever met or spoken to the two defendants in these cases."

Here's the Docket entry reassigning the judge:
Case as to JESSE L. JACKSON, JR randomly reassigned to Judge Amy Berman Jackson. Judge Robert L. Wilkins no longer assigned to the case. (gt, ) (Entered: 04/16/2013)

alriley.jpegWhile Jesse Jackson Jr. and Sandi Jackson Jr. resigned respectively from Congress and the City Council before pleading guilty to federal charges, there were still some loose ends to tie up.

Now the two have been replaced in their political duties as committeemen.

Democratic Party Chairman Joe Berrios said the spots -- Jackson Jr.'s role as Democratic State Central Committeeman and Sandi Jackson's spot as 7th Ward Committeeman are filled.

State Rep. Al Riley (D-Olympia Fields) is the new Democratic State Central committeeman from the 2nd congressional district. Ald. Natashia Holmes, who replaced Sandi Jackson on the City Council, also replaces her as 7th ward committeeman.

"I was appointed to serve his unexpired term," Riley said. The term runs concurrently with the congressman's, so it will be up in 2014, he said. "They are charged ... with promoting the tenets, in my case, in the Democratic party throughout the state, and involving themselves where appropriate in slate-making and policy making for the state of Illinois."

The Democratic State Central Committee consists of two people from every congressional district, one male, one female, Riley said. (The other in the 2nd district is Ald. Carrie Austin).

"It's a very important position with off-year elections coming up in 2014," Riley said. Not to mention with the presidential election coming up, committeemen often serve as delegates for the national convention, he added. "They provide endorsements where they decide to do it with the state races. When those people run, you typically will hear what the Democratic State Committee is thinking about or what they're doing."


Today's front page of USA Today shows a photo of President Obama hugging someone in front of a new Rosa Parks statue, while a young boy to the right of the photo looks on.

The children aren't identified in the photo's front page caption, but it turns out those are Jesse Jackson Jr.'s kids -- featured on a national daily front page paper.

Obama is hugging Jackson Jr.'s daughter, Jessica, 12, and Jackson's son, Jesse III, who is 9, is pictured to the right. Obama made his way over to the kids, who by then were with Rev. Jesse Jackson -- their grandfather -- after the ceremony and shook hands. President Obama then took a separate photo with both of Jackson Jr.'s kids afterward.

In the backdrop is a statue of Rosa Parks, the Civil Rights-era activist. The statue now appears in National Statuary Hall, an area inside the U.S.Capitol devoted to sculptures of prominent Americans.

The Wednesday dedication of the statue was to be a big moment for Jackson Jr. before he resigned from congress last November, amid a federal investigation. Earlier this month, Jackson and his wife, Sandi, pleaded guilty to looting his campaign fund of $750,000 to pay for personal luxuries.

Neither parent attended the ceremony as originally planned. The Rev. Jackson's wife brought the children to the event.

"It was touching to see President Obama reach out to Jesse's children at the ceremony,"
said Ken Jakubowski, a family friend.

Jackson had initiated legislation that paved the way for the statue and worked to sign on Sen. John Kerry to carry the legislation in the U.S. Senate.
"Yesterday's unveiling of the Rosa Parks statue in Statuary Hall represents a real triumph for Congressman Jackson. He may be gone from Congress, but Congressman Jackson's legacy of standing up for "a more perfect Union" will be stamped in the Capitol forever."

Jesse Jr. was to give a speech at the dedication, which he penned before June 10, when he left Congress. The dedication was to happen last year but it was delayed during Jackson's leave of absence. It went on when it became clear he would not attend.
Jackson Jr. resigned from Congress in November.


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Former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. arrived at a federal courthouse Wednesday morning, where when he's expected to plead guilty to misusing $750,000 in campaign money. With him was his wife, former Ald. Sandi Jackson, who's expected to plead guilty to federal charges hours later.

Jesse Jackson Jr., looking trim in a suit, appeared somber and serious as he walked into the U.S. District Court, down the street from the U.S. Capitol. When asked for comment by the assembled media, Jackson turned and said nothing. Sandi Jackson was also with him, her guilty plea is set for 2:30 p.m. (Eastern).

Jackson Jr. is in court with his family, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and his wife, as well as Jackson Jr.'s brothers Jonathan and Yusef are all in court.

His actual plea isn't scheduled until 10:30 a.m.

The U.S. Attorney's office, FBI and IRS have scheduled a 5 p.m. news conference to discuss both the Sandi Jackson and Jesse Jackson Jr. cases.

As early as this week, the public could get its first real glimpse of former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. since last June -- and it's likely to come in a federal courthouse when he pleads guilty to federal charges.

One of Sandi Jackson's lawyers, Tom Kirsch, told the Sun-Times on Monday that Sandi is expected to enter her guilty plea when she appears in court for arraignment this week.

Last week, one of Jesse Jackson Jr.'s lawyers, Brian Heberlig, told the Sun-Times that Jackson, too, was expected to plead guilty.

No date has been released yet, but last week, lawyers said the court hearing could come as early as Wednesday. A U.S. Attorney spokesman in D.C. said the office was still awaiting confirmation on hearing dates.

Both Jacksons have been assigned to the same judge, but they are expected to have separate hearings before U.S. District Judge Robert L. Wilkins.

Both Jackson and his wife, Sandi, were charged Friday with massive misuse of campaign money from the congressman's campaign account.

Jesse Jackson Jr. disappeared from Congress on June 10. The Sun-Times has previously reported that federal authorities believed he was tipped off to the investigation into his campaign funds that was already underway.

By Natasha Korecki
Political Reporter

Federal agents from Washington D.C. visited Chicago as recently as last week interviewing witnesses about former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., a source with direct knowledge of the effort told the Chicago Sun-Times.
"They're still investigating. They're questioning people to corroborate," Jackson's statements to federal authorities, said the source.
The feds were questioning witnesses about activity in Jackson's congressional campaign fund including for transactions specifically in 2009, 2010 and 2011, the source said.
Sources said the 17-year South Shore congressman signed a plea deal last week that acknowledges wrongdoing with respect to misusing his campaign fund.
The source said that Jackson had told others that he tried "protecting" his wife, Sandi Jackson, but "they wouldn't let him."
Earlier this week, the Sun-Times reported that Sandi Jackson is now the target of a separate investigation by federal officials.
Two sources with knowledge of that probe say that authorities believe Sandi Jackson had direct knowledge of alleged misuse of campaign money.
The investigation continues to stun those close to Jackson, who was a target of a different federal probe back in 2008 and 2009, involving Rod Blagojevich's attempted sale of Barack Obama's vacant U.S. Senate seat. The Sun-Times first reported in 2010 that a fund-raiser with long ties to the Jackson family told federal authorities that Jackson in October of 2008 had directed him to approach the Blagojevich camp with a $6 million offer for the Senate seat. However, that fund-raiser, Raghuveer Nayak, alleged the conversation was private. Nayak also told authorities that at Jackson's behest, he secretly paid for airline trips for a Jackson female friend to fly from Washington to Chicago.
Nayak himself is now under indictment for conduct involving surgical centers he owns in Illinois and Indiana.

Boxes moving into Jesse Jackson Jr.'s home

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Could Jesse Jackson Jr. be moving back to Chicago?
Don't jump to any conclusions.
A large moving truck parked in front of the former congressman's South Side home Wednesday morning, and movers could be seen brining boxes into the house. At least one of the boxes was one clearly marked: "Jesse Jackson Jr. Clothes."
Asked about the boxes, former Ald. Sandi Jackson emailed: "It's stuff from Rayburn," a reference to the House Office Building where her husband, the former representative from the 2nd Congressional District, had his office. "17 years of stuff. Time to get it all home."
Jesse Jackson Jr. is under federal investigation for alleged financial improprieties. Sandi Jackson has also been under federal scrutiny.
The couple has a residence in Washington D.C. as well and their children attend school there.

Robin Kelly announced December 12 that she is running for Jesse Jackson Jr.'s 2nd Congressional District seat in a special election. | Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times

*** Updated ***

With an increasingly crowded field of candidates vying for Jesse Jackson Jr.'s old 2nd Congressional District seat, candidates are betting fund-raising will set them apart.

Robin Kelly announced today that she raised $200,209 from 514 individuals in the month of December alone.
So far, she is the only candidate to report fund-raising totals. Kelly of Matteson, resigned from Cook County Commissioner Toni Preckwinkle's staff last month.
Last week, state Sen. Toi Hutchinson announced raising more than $130,000
"While December is traditionally the most difficult fundraising month of the year, I'm so humbled by the outpouring of support I've received in the last four weeks," Hutchinson said in a statement.

Today is the deadline for candidates to file for the open seat. The special election is scheduled for Feb. 26, after Jackson resigned in November amid a federal inquiry and health issues. At least a dozen candidates are expected to file in all.

"I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from my neighbors across Chicago and the Southland," Kelly said in a statement today.