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Ex-congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. checks in to famous federal prison in NC

Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., leaves U.S. District Court in Washington after his sentening in August,
Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., leaves U.S. District Court in Washington after his sentening in August,Saul Loeb / AFP - Getty Images file

Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., reported to one of the cushiest federal prisons Monday to begin his 2½-year sentence for stealing $750,000 in campaign funds to pay for high-end swag like vacations, furs and even one of Michael Jackson's hats.

Jackson, the son of the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., a  two-time Democratic presidential candidate, arrived at Butner Federal Correctional Complex near Raleigh, N.C., on Monday, his lawyers said in a statement.

Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., a longtime friend who accompanied Jackson to the prison, said the former congressman was in "good spirits, all things considered." 

Jackson, who represented the south suburbs of Chicago in Congress for 17 years, resigned in November 2012 and pleaded guilty in February to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, making false statements and mail fraud. He has said he suffers from bipolar disorder and clinical depression.

Jackson's wife, former Chicago Alderman Sandi Jackson, who was convicted of tax charges in the same investigation, is supposed to begin a one-year sentence once her husband is released.

The Butner complex is considered one of the least demanding facilities in the federal prison system and has been home to many high-profile criminals. 

Current inmates include Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff; Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard; and Omar Ahmad Rahman, the "Blind Sheik" convicted of planning the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. 

Former inmates include TV evangelist Jim Bakker and John Hinckley Jr., who tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981.

Jackson admitted stealing three-quarters of a million dollars from his campaign funds to support his lavish lifestyle, using the money to buy high-end electronics and collectibles, movie tickets, health club memberships, vacations, expensive meals and furs.

Among the more exotic purchases enumerated in court documents were a $4,600 fedora from Michael Jackson's collection, a $1,500 cashmere cape and a pair of mounted elk heads from a Montana taxidermist priced at $8,000.

An auction meant to help Jackson pay $750,000 restitution was called off last month after U.S. marshals questioned the authenticity of one of his forfeited assets: a guitar purportedly signed by Michael Jackson and Eddie Van Halen.

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