He may have stolen three quarters of a million dollars from his campaign donors, and then wasted it on fur parkas and fake Michael Jackson memorabilia and Eddie Van Halen guitars, but after 17 months, shared between an Alabama prison and a Baltimore halfway house, Jesse Jackson, Jr. is a free man.
He was serving a 30 month sentence on a felony fraud count, a plea deal he struck after being socked with a number of Federal charges following an investigation that turned up his financial malfeasance. Apparently, he got out on good behavior after serving about two thirds of his sentence.
Former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. was released on Monday morning from a Baltimore halfway house, where he’d been living since his release from an Alabama federal prison in March.
Jackson served 17 months of a 30-month sentence.
Jackson, 50, was released from the Volunteers of America halfway house shortly before 9am and left in a black SUV.
Jackson, an Illinois Democrat, moved into the halfway house from prison, where he was serving a two-and-a-half-year sentence for spending $750,000 in campaign money on personal items.
His untimely indictment brought his career to a screeching halt, at least ostensibly. In Illinois, a Federal indictment is often seen as a pro, not a con, since it’s clear you’ve already served your term in prison, making you at least slightly less likely to return. As most of our political leadership treat the Federal pen as a retirement program, knowing someone is planning on avoiding a return visit allows us to consider them a “long term investment,” in a way many of our first-time elected officials are not.
Jackson will now serve three years on a Federal monitored release program, where he is free to engage in his favorite extra curricular activities, including running around naked in a local Chicago bathhouse demonstrating his karate prowess, and claiming to be the reincarnation of a Greek chariot savant. He will have to call in to a probation office daily and submit to regular contacts with a Federal probation officer and possibly routine drug testing, though that’s not specified. in a few short weeks, it’s likely his wife will start her prison sentence – she also pled guilty to a Federal fraud charge, as she took money from campaign coffers to furnish an office that was never used, and to pay herself to run a campaign that was, from all accounts, not doing anything – as Jackson and his wife were allowed to stagger their sentences so that one parent would always be home to set a shining example for their young children.
Unfortuantely for Jackson, most of his ill-gotten gains, including the beautiful mink capes and questionable celebrity autographs, have long since been disposed of, sold off by the Feds in an attempt to make restitution to Jackson’s donors, with the money going to pay back the government’s law enforcement arms for the cost of investigation. Jesse’s donors are mostly out of luck, unless Jesse decides, out of the goodness of his heart, to pay back the cash he used to furnish his office. Jackson will have to pack his post-prison apartment with all new collectors items.