Nightly News   |  August 14, 2013

Jesse Jackson Jr. gets 2.5-year prison sentence

The former Illinois congressman receives a 30-month jail sentence after pleading guilty to spending $750,000 in campaign funds on personal items. NBC’s Pete Williams reports.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> today was sentencing day for former congressman jesse jackson sr. and his wife are about to serve time, serving time in a way somewhat unusual for the sake of their family. here's nbc's justice correspondent pete williams .

>> reporter: the long fall from grace for swres se jackson jr. ended at a federal courthouse half a mile from the u.s. capitol where he served 17 years as a congressman.

>> i still believe in the power of forgiveness. i believe in the power of redemption. today i manned up and tried to accept responsibility for the errors of my ways, and i still believe in the resurrection.

>> reporter: in court, he wept as he said, i want to apologize to my dad and mother, as they listened in the front row . his crime, stealing $750,000 from his congressional campaigns to buy himself a $43,000 gold-plated watch, fur coats , two mounted elk heads, flat-screen tvs and more during spending sprees. prosecutors asked for a sentence of four years calling it one of the biggest abuses ever of the campaign finance system. but judge amy berman jackson sentenced him to 2 1/2 years in prison saying anything longer would have diminishing returns . both for his future and in treating his recently diagnosed bipolar disorder.

>> jesse has been very sick. this time a year ago, i really thought we may have lost him.

>> he will serve his sentence. he will come back out. and we believe and we're optimistic he'll do great things.

>> reporter: his wife sandy was sentenced to a year in prison for filing false tax returns . he'll report to prison this fall. then, when he's released, she'll begin serving her sentence. and an unusual arrangement approved by the judge so they can take turns caring for their young children ages 9 and 13. pete williams , nbc news at federal court in washington.