Illinois image tainted by Jackson crimes

Illinois image tainted by Jackson crimes

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Many people say the federal crimes committed by former Illinois congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. and his wife, former Chicago alderman Sandi Jackson are the latest examples of corruption in our state.

Jackson Jr. will serve 30 months behind bars and remain on probation for three additional years. After her husband serves his time, Sandi Jackson will go to jail for 12 months without a chance for less time for good behavior. She was ordered to pay $22,000 in restitution and serve 200 hours of community service.

The former congressman plead guilty to spending $750,000 in campaign funds on extravagant personal items - like a $43,350 gold-plated men's Rolex watch. His wife plead guilty to filing a false tax return, since she failed to report $600,000 in income that the couple earned between 2005 and 2011. She was also her husband's campaign treasurer.

They have not been told in which prisons they will serve their time.

The Chicago Democrat served Illinois in Congress for 17 years, and his wife served the city's 7th ward before they both resigned in 2012 during the federal investigation that led to federal charges against them.

The couple comes from one of the most influential politics families in Illinois. Jesse Jr. is the son of civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson, and was once thought to be a candidate for president of the United States, when he was the shining star of American politics. But his fall from grace prevented that dream from coming to fruition.

Coming from a state which has had governors and congressmen sent to prison for corruption, this latest case has contributed to a further tainted image of state and local politics.

Jesse Jackson, Jr. and Sandi Jackson were tearful in court on Wednesday. They both apologized for disappointing their community. The judge said that their joint misconduct was repeated and covered up, and that those who make the commitment to representing their constituents are supposed to live up to a higher standard.

At City Hall, people wanted to be supportive of former alderman Sandi Jackson - those who tried to remain objective. There are still people in the 7th ward and in the 2nd district that remain faithful to the Jackson, despite their admittance of guilt. But on Thursday, former supporters said they feel betrayed.

"Jesse Jackson, Jr., he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth," one constituent told FOX 32 News. "If you have a position like this you can do the right thing for the community. Not just think about yourself and money in your pocket. What about us? You should have taken that and did something with it. I think you deserve it."

FOX 32 viewers took to the FOX Chicago News Facebook page on Wednesday to voice their opinions on the Jacksons' sentencing, and an overwhelming amount of the comments pointed to Chicago corruption.

Legal analyst Thom Serafin spoke on the issue on Good Day Chicago Thursday morning, pointing out that while this latest case does represent a glaring example of the trend, there are other states in the union – like Louisiana, New Jersey and California – whose similar problems have been brought to the national stage. But he does agree that if you look at the sheer number of public officials that have gone to jail over the last 50 years, Illinois ranks at the top.

Serafin when on to address political dynasties, the sense of entitlement and privilege that comes with being part of such powerful families – and with simply being a politician in this state and others, the Jacksons' sentences compared to that of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich and the Jacksons' political futures after prison.

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