Jesse Jackson Jr May Use Illness in Sentence Plea

The ex-congressman's lawyer argues that his client's behavior, including embezzlement, was directly linked to mental illness.

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Jesse Jackson Jr. leaves U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., in February. (Win McNamee/Getty Images News)

Embattled former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. may follow the path of other fallen Illinois lawmakers and public servants, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

That is, he will reportedly ask a federal judge for leniency on his sentence because of his mental health, the paper says. But prosecutors are skeptical and want to have their own experts evaluate Jackson. Former Illinois governors George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich both asked for sentencing breaks for health reasons.

The ex-congressman's top lawyer, Reid Weingarten, had said his client's behavior — embezzling $750,000 from his campaign fund to lavish himself and his wife with a $40,000 Rolex watch, spending $5,000 on four mink and fur capes in one day, rare memorabilia, and pricey vacations — was directly linked to his illness.

"He's a shopping addict, sir?" a reporter called out somewhat sarcastically at a February news conference ...

Before his sentencing, Ryan's lawyers wrote in 2006 that the former governor "suffers from numerous illnesses," including Crohn's disease and diabetes. "Even a sentence of 30 months could take away the last healthy years of his life. . . . It is highly likely that he will die in prison," they said.

In January, Ryan was released from his six-year prison term, having outlived his wife and appearing far more fit and trim than before he entered federal confines.

Ryan's former chief of staff Scott Fawell has admitted he exaggerated his alcohol dependency to shave time off his sentence.

Rod Blagojevich was not publicly known to have abused alcohol — until after it was determined he was prison-bound. Alcohol counseling in prison may now help shave a year off his 14-year sentence.

Read more at the Chicago Sun-Times.

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