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Prison date draws near for Jesse Jackson Jr.

Published: Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013 9:54 a.m. CST

WASHINGTON (MCT) - As former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. prepares to enter federal prison, a court filing Friday shed new light on his humiliating fall from a noted congressman to Inmate No. 32451-016.

The convicted felon has agreed to sell his Victorian-style town house in the nation's capital to help pay a $750,000 forfeiture, the filing said. That's the amount he admitted stealing from his campaign to pay for a Rolex watch, furs, vacations, celebrity memorabilia, mounted elk heads and other whims.

Jackson's home, assessed at nearly $1.3 million, briefly went up for sale last year while he was on a medical leave of absence and under federal investigation. By the time he was sentenced Aug. 14, one of his attorneys said Jackson would pay the $750,000 by taking out a second mortgage on the home, but the filing Friday suggests that effort collapsed.

Meantime, the sale of a dozen luxury items and collectibles that authorities seized from Jackson has turned into something of a fiasco. Bidding in an online auction overseen by the U.S. Marshals Service last month quickly shot up to $14,136 before the sale was halted. The proceeds would have helped Jackson meet his $750,000 obligation.

Now the auction has been canceled, authorities said Friday, and the collectibles are back in the hands of the FBI. The auction was put on hold because of questions about the authenticity of one of Jackson's former possessions - a guitar purportedly signed by the late pop star Michael Jackson and guitarist Eddie Van Halen.

When and where Jackson will begin his 21/2-year sentence have not been announced, but "he should be rolling shortly, in the next few weeks," Edmond Ross, a Bureau of Prisons spokesman, said last week.

Sources told the Tribune that Jackson has been assigned to a federal facility in North Carolina. A low-security prison in Butner, N.C., was his second choice for the place to pay for his crimes. His top pick was a prison camp in Montgomery, Ala.

At the Butner Federal Correctional Complex, executive assistant Chris McConnell said Friday that Jackson had not surrendered and declined to say whether the ex-congressman was expected in the coming days. The Butner complex includes a federal medical center, two medium-security institutions and a low-security camp.

Because of security precautions, an inmate's designated prison is not made public until after his arrival, McConnell said.

At sentencing, Judge Amy Berman Jackson (no relation) ordered the ex-congressman to surrender no earlier than Nov. 1, which is Friday. That date coincided with a scheduled court hearing on how he would pay the $750,000.

Defense attorney Reid Weingarten said Jackson needed time to secure a second mortgage on his Washington home. "It's just easier if he's not in jail," Weingarten said then. He and other lawyers for Jackson turned aside Tribune questions on the case this week.

Jackson and his wife, Sandi, also own a home in Chicago's South Shore neighborhood.

On Friday, Weingarten joined prosecutors in disclosing that Jackson has agreed to pay $200,000 by next Friday. They said the money included a liquidated individual retirement account that had a $79,730 balance last May, according to an earlier court filing.

After Friday's filing, the judge scratched next Friday's scheduled hearing and asked for a report on the expected $200,000 payment by Nov. 4. Jackson is to pay the remaining balance by June 1, 2014.

At the Marshals Service, spokeswoman Lynzey Donahue said the seized property that was supposed to have been auctioned had been turned over to the FBI. Jacqueline Maguire, an FBI spokeswoman, said Friday it was too early to say what would happen to the "forfeited property."

Among the seized merchandise were four furs: a black sheared-mink jacket; a red cashmere cape with dyed black mink trim; a brown cashmere cape with brown mink trim; and a black sheared-mink hooded parka.

Asked if there was any chance that the furs would be returned to Jackson, Donahue said, "No, he will not get them back."

Jackson, 48, a South Side Democrat who is the son of civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson, entered Congress in 1995. He quit the House last November after a long leave of absence blamed on depression and bipolar disorder.

His crime spree ran from 2005 to 2012. He was convicted with his wife, a former Chicago alderman. Both cut plea deals. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud and make false statements; she pleaded to a tax crime.

Sandi Jackson, 50, was sentenced to a year in prison but does not have to surrender until 30 days after her husband's term is up. Judge Jackson staggered the couple's sentences because of their children, 10 and 13.

(c)2013 the Chicago Tribune Distributed by MCT Information Services

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