Jesse Jackson Jr. signs plea deal in federal probe, sources say

(FILE) Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., D-Ill., is pictured before President Barack Obama speaks during the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

February 15, 2013 1:59:08 PM PST
Jesse Jackson Jr. pleaded guilty in a plea deal connected to a federal investigation in which the former congressman is accused of misusing campaign funds, sources tell ABC7.

Jackson pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, mail fraud and false statements, according to sources close to the investigation. Federal prosecutors are recommending a 5 year maximum sentence.

Jackson signed the deal on February 1, 2013, in Washington, D.C. sources tell ABC7.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington DC would neither confirm nor deny that a plea deal has been reached in Jackson's political corruption case.

The former congressman's whereabouts are unknown; there was no activity at his South Side home Friday.

His father, Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., did not comment on the developments when asked about it by reporters Friday afternoon.

Governor Pat Quinn was asked by Newsviews anchor Alan Krashesky what he thought about reports that Jackson will be the next Illinois politician guilty of corruption.

"If you did something wrong and the government finds there's guilt and you confess to that guilt then there has to be a consequence," Quinn said.

"I feel that's my number one mission in Illinois to restore integrity to governor's office and I work on that every single day."

Honesty in government is essential at all levels, Quinn said.

According to reports, a yet-to-be-assigned federal judge in Washington will decide how much, if any, time Jackson will spend in prison.

The plea deal reportedly orders Jackson to repay hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal expenditures.

ABC7 News has learned that some of the money was allegedly spent on airfare and gifts, including a $40,000 watch for Giovana Huidobro, a Washington hostess and Jackson's female friend.

More cash reportedly was spent on furniture for the Washington DC townhouse owned by the former congressman and his wife Sandi Jackson.

For over a decade until fall 2012, Sandi Jackson was paid $5000 a month to be a consultant to her husband's campaign.

Congressman Danny Davis, a Jackson friend, said he hasn't heard from his former colleague.

"If somebody were to ask me 'so what is the Congressman convicted of or what has the Congressman agreed to?, I really don't know," Davis said.

Davis brushed aside media source reports and will wait for the Department of Justice to learn the investigation's outcome.

"Some of this seems to be speculation," Davis said.

Jackson resigned from Congress on November 21, 2012, citing personal health issues. Earlier in June, Jackson had taken a leave of absence from Congress and announced he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Jackson, 47, had been under federal investigation for months. He made reference to that investigation in his resignation letter.

"During this journey I have made my share of mistakes. I am aware of the ongoing federal investigation into my activities and I am doing my best to address the situation responsibly, cooperate with the investigators and accept responsibility for my mistakes," he wrote.

His wife, Sandi Jackson, resigned from the Chicago City Council in January 2012. She is also under federal investigation. There is still no word on her legal status.

Also on Friday evening, there was a debate held between candidates vying to replace Jesse Jackson Jr. in his former Second Congressional District seat. Some of the candidates voiced their compassion and concern for the Jackson family.

"I think what's he's doing is facing up to his wrong doings and the mistakes that he has made," Alderman and Democratic Congressional candidate Anthony Beale said. "And so I commend him for that."

"You hate to see somebody have to go through this but if you did the crime- you know the saying- 'If you do the crime, you have to do the time.'" Republican Congressional candidate Eric M. Wallace said.