A former Illinois congressman and his wife have agreed to make guilty pleas after being accused of misusing campaign funds. A single felony charge of conspiracy has been filed against Jesse Jackson Jr. His wife has also been charged with a single count of filing a false tax return. The woman reportedly did not reveal all of their income for a period of five years. Authorities believe that the two may have schemed to misuse $750,000 on extravagant personal purchases, including watches, furs and furniture.

It is possible that both of them could receive lengthy prison terms or be required to pay stiff penalties. However, with the plea deal it is probable that neither will receive the maximum sentence. In the event that Jackson is convicted, he will be required to forfeit the amount of the misused funds and several thousand dollars in sports, rock and historical memorabilia.

Court records show that Jackson attempted to conceal their use of the funds by filing false reports with the House of Representatives. Authorities believe that the couple used credit cards designated for campaign use to pay off personal bills totaling over half a million dollars. A company reportedly issued a large check to decrease the balance on one of his credit cards, but the statement he filed neglected to mention that the payment was made for his personal expenses.

When an Illinois resident faces a felony charge, it could end in a need for an aggressive criminal defense. However, when that charge is filed by the federal government, the consequences for a conviction could be much more serious. In some cases, a plea deal may be a viable option, but it may be best to discuss this with legal representation. No matter what type of felony charge someone faces, it is important to ensure that one’s rights are protected during the process.

Source: Chron.com, “Jesse Jackson Jr., wife agree to plead guilty,” Pete Yost, Feb. 15, 2013