Former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. was charged Friday with illegally spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds for personal use and could face up to 57 months in prison.
He was charged with conspiracy, making false statements, mail and wire fraud.
His wife, former Ald. Sandi Jackson, was charged with a tax crime.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson was huddled with his son and family in Washington, D.C, "being very prayerful."
Jackson Sr. made no effort to hide how excruciating it has been to watch his son and namesake resign and face a substantial jail sentence.
"This is a painful ordeal, but with love and prayer, we'll get through it," said the elder Jackson, who has had a strained relationship with his son over the years.
He added that there are "still legal matters involved" that needed to be resolved as of early Friday afternoon
Jackson Sr. said his son, who has been treated for bipolar disorder, "still has substational health problems that he is struggling with, and he is on a serious medical regimen."
"Jesse [Jr.] faces and still faces substantial health challenges. This bi-polar business, which drives you to extremes. Even today, he is under the doctor's care and a daily medical regimen. After that, resolving these legal matters. We're simply asking for prayers for our family."
Jackson Sr. was asked whether he was either embarrassed or surprised at his son's lavish spending on items that allegedly included a $43,000 Rolex watch, a fur parka and costly vacations.
He cut off the conversation, telling the Chicago Sun-Times, "I can't comment on any of that. I could not and should not. I don't know enough about it. We're close enough to remain prayerful and supportive. But, I don't' know anything about the legal details."
The Sun-Times has previously reported that Jackson Jr. had signed a plea deal involving misuse of his campaign funds, and that the federal investigation of his wife, Sandi Jackson, had intensified.
Jackson Jr. could face 46 to 57 months under sentencing guidelines and be ordered to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in forfeiture and restitution.
The former congressman, 47, resigned from office in November amid the pressures of a federal criminal investgation and a diagnosis of bipolar depression.
His wife, 49, resigned from her job as 7th Ward alderman last month, citing "very painful family health matters."
"This just stunned the Rev. Jackson," the source said, referring to the family patriarch. "He doesn't know what to do. This hit the family like a thunderbolt."
Among the items purchased by campaign funds include a hat, cap and gloves once worn by Michael Jackson, a fur parka, expensive vacations and restaurant tabs.
"If Jesse had any fight in him, he could have fought this," said another source close to Jackson Jr.
"He has tried to everything possible to stand up and be a man and to protect his wife..." the source said.
Jackson Sr. said he had planned to be in Chicago on Friday to discuss gun violence issues with President Barack Obama, but canceled those plans because "of what is happening today."
© Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC
Story by 89 WLS reporter Bill Cameron
Disgraced ex-congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. is expected to plead guilty to corruption any day now, and his wife Sandi may be pleading too.
No comment today from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington DC, but reports persist that prosecutors will file charges against Jesse Jr. and his wife Sandi by Tuesday at the latest.
Also expected in the filing is a plea agreement. Jackson is expected to plead guilty to a felony for the misuse of campaign funds.
The money in question was reportedly spent in part on a $40,000 Rolex watch for himself and travel for a mistress.
Part of the deal is to quit Congress, which he did, repay hundreds of thousands of dollars and let a judge decide the sentence.
Sandi Jackson is vulnerable because she was a campaign manager who signed the tax returns.
An educated guess is that she'll get probation so she can look after the kids, but he'll get a sentence of more than a year, but less than two.
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