Sandi Jackson not likely to face prison time, legal experts say - FOX 10 News |

Sandi Jackson not likely to face prison time, legal experts say

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Now that Jesse Jackson Jr. has signed his plea agreement, what lies ahead for the former congressman and his wife, former alderman Sandi Jackson?

SEE: Jackson Jr. signs plea deal in federal probe

The plea deal will be presented in court sooner, rather than later, but what is not so clear is the legal future of Sandi Jackson and how, if at all, her husband's plea impacts the investigation of her.

The case against Jesse Jackson Junior involves the misuse of campaign funds. The likely charge is mail or wire fraud, which carries a penalty of up to five years in prison.

Former federal prosecutor Ron Safer believes Jackson will probably do a year to a year and a half behind bars.

"I believe he will probably do it in the least invasive environment, because obviously dealing with the mental illness, he will probably go to a federal medical center," says Safer.

Safer says Jackson's bi-polar disorder will certainly be a factor in his plea.

"It has a significant impact, in that he will want to say that the person who committed these offenses no longer exists, that is, he was operating under a serious illness, that impaired his ability and his judgment," Safer explains.

Experts say even though Sandi Jackson is the target of a separate investigation, it's not likely she would face prison time.

"It's very unusual for the prosecutors to go after both husband and wife, especially when there are children involved," Criminal Defense Attorney Karen Conti says. "You've seen that over and over again, with the Blagojevich family, that was some talk that Patti may have crossed the line legally, but they did not go after her."

If Jackson's plea does not also wrap up the case against his wife, that spells trouble.

"If they go after Sandi Jackson I believe it's because what she committed was more serious than what Jesse committed, and that maybe there was a lot of money involved, more money than Jesse and they couldn't just leave that go," Conti says.

Attorney Ron Safer points out that the charge Jesse Jackson Jr. is likely pleading guilty to could result in no jail time; simply probation. It's ultimately up to the judge. Though sometimes federal prosecutors cut some slack to spouses when children are involved, the fact that Sandi Jackson herself was a public official could impact her investigation.

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