WASHINGTON — A case filled with strange twists and turns took a detour into confusion Monday night when a spokeswoman linked to former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. announced that the ex-congressman had reported to federal prison but prison officials said he was not in custody.
Bunnie Jackson-Ransom, an Atlanta publicist for Jackson lawyer C.K. Hoffler, said Jackson arrived at the Butner Federal Correctional Complex in North Carolina sometime after 2p.m. Chicago time Monday.
But Chris McConnell, Butner's executive assistant and public information officer, was contacted after Jackson's announced arrival time and denied that Jackson was there. And Ed Ross, a Bureau of Prisons spokesman in Washington, noted that the "inmate locator" on the prison system's website listed Jackson as "not in BOP custody" late Monday.
The contradiction could not immediately be reconciled. But WLS-TV reported that Rep. G.K. Butterfield, a North Carolina Democrat who was said to have accompanied Jackson, explained that a paperwork problem at Butner was being worked out. At sentencing, Jackson had been ordered to report to prison for his 30-month sentence no earlier than this coming Friday.
Jackson's defense lawyers did not respond to Tribune requests for comment.
Jackson, 48, who was convicted of looting his campaign fund of $750,000, had already been given a number as Inmate 32451-016.
The federal complex at Butner is not far from Durham.
Jackson is expected to join other high-profile felons there. It is home to rogue financier Bernard Madoff; spy Jonathan Pollard; Omar Ahmad Rahman, the "blind sheik" convicted for plotting to blow up New York City landmarks; and Jon Burge, the former Chicago police commander under whose watch African-American suspects were tortured into making false confessions to rape and murder, records show.
A former congressman from California, Republican Randy "Duke" Cunningham, who was convicted of bribery, served time at Butner before his release. And Frank Calabrese Sr., a Chicago mobster responsible for several gangland slayings in the 1970s and '80s, died last Christmas in Butner's Federal Medical Center.
Jackson, the son of civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson, reportedly has depression and bipolar disorder. Jackson Jr. pleaded guilty to stealing $750,000 from his campaign from 2005 to 2012 to pay for vacations, furs, celebrity memorabilia and even two elk heads.
He was ordered to pay $750,000 in restitution. According to a court filing last week, the ex-congressman will pay $200,000 by Friday and then sell his Washington home. By May 15, attorneys will give the judge a report on how much he has paid.
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