Jesse Jackson Jr. pleaded guilty to spending $750,000 in campaign cash for personal items and services in federal court on Wednesday.
As an admitted felon, Jackson, who recently resigned from Congress, forfeited his right to vote in elections.
However, by striking a plea deal, the former representative from Chicago avoided a maximum fine of $250,000, dropping his liability to between $10,000 and $100,000. Jackson must also forfeit the $750,000 he spent on himself and others. It is not clear where Jackson might get the funds to pay that amount, according to a Chicago Tribune report.
Should Jackson be sentenced to prison, he would face an additional three years of probation or “supervised” release.
Jackson disappeared last summer and hadn't shown up for any votes in Congress for months before surfacing in a mental health clinic.
When asked by Judge Robert Wilkins how he would plead in the case, Jackson said: “I am guilty, your honor.”
“I used money I shouldn’t have. . .for personal purposes, and I acknowledge that,” Jackson told the judge.
While guidelines in the plea deal with Jackson Jr. propose he be sentenced to a term of between 46 and 57 months in prison, Jackson's lawyers successfully campaigned that they be allowed to argue for a reduced prison term when he is sentenced on June 28.
The judge, who said Jackson could remain free until sentencing, also allowed the disgraced U.S. representative to travel between Washington and Chicago where he maintains a second home.
Jackson Jr. told a reporter at the courthouse to, "tell everybody back home I'm sorry I let 'em down, OK?"
At a press conference following the hearing, Jackson Jr. attorney Reid Weingarten wasted no time blaming Jackson’s crimes on his mental health.
"It turns out that Jesse has serious health issues," he said. "Those health issues are directly related to his present predicament. That's not an excuse, that's just a fact."