*On Friday, Government prosecutors filed a forfeiture motion naming the homes of former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and his wife, Sandi, in a move legal observers said could result in them losing one or both of their homes.
The motion filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., comes just days before Jackson and his wife are scheduled for sentencing on charges related to Jackson’s misuse of $750,000 in campaign funds.
Jackson’s attorney, Reid Weingarten, has yet to comment on the matter.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington released a statement on Friday saying they had “no interest in taking over” and seizing Jackson’s properties.
“The motion filed by the government today seeks to forfeit the defendant’s interest in the two properties in the event that they are sold,” it said. “This is a standard filing in cases in which a defendant has a significant money judgment and equity in property that could be used to satisfy the money judgment.”
But the motion Friday still has some onlookers believing that Jackson’s homes are now in jeopardy.
“The government statement is soft-pedaling a bitter reality,” said Joe Lopez, a defense attorney in Chicago who practices in both state and federal court. “This filing is a big deal – to the Jacksons.”
Lopez is not currently involved in the case but offered his take on it. According to him, the government could move quickly to force the sale of the homes if a judge approves the forfeiture motion.
“The government will be in the driver’s seat about when the houses are sold,” he said. “And they are not going to let the Jacksons live in the homes for 20 years.”
Jackson previously admitted to spending $750,000 in campaign funds on personal items. Among other financial penalties, he agreed to pay back the money as part of his plea agreement.
But prosecutors said that only half of the 24 items purchased with the campaign funds were retrieved and that the 12 items Jackson agreed to turn in were worth $21,000 altogether. This left the government shy of the money Jackson was set to pay back which resulted in the forfeiture motion.
Jackson is facing a four-year prison term after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, mail fraud and false statements. His wife is facing a year-and-a-half in prison and pled guilty to filing false joint tax returns.
The judge will have problems with deciding whether to separate the Jacksons sentencing so that they aren’t away from their two children at the same time while serving their terms.