Jackson Jr., wearing a dark suit, white shirt and blue tie, grimaced. Sandi Jackson, in a beige ensemble, smiled broadly.

The former congressman's father, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, had arrived earlier with his wife and his other children. Speaking with reporters, he reflected on his son's bipolar disorder. "I don't know how I missed so many signs," he said. "We found out he was sick very late. We thought we almost lost him. He was in a different place altogether."

"He was very sick," the father added. "People speculating, 'Is he faking it?' No, he's not."

The Jacksons, both Democrats, pleaded guilty after an illegal spending spree that included a $43,000 men's Rolex watch, furs and cashmere, vacations, two mounted elk heads and memorabilia ranging from a Michael Jackson fedora to an Eddie Van Halen guitar.

The first clear sign that Jackson Jr. was in serious trouble came in June 2012 when he began a mysterious medical leave of absence from Congress. His office initially said he was suffering from exhaustion, but his lawyers later said he was being treated for severe depression and bipolar disorder.

He never returned to work, and reports that he was under investigation soon followed. But he won re-election in November without campaigning. Jackson Jr., who entered Congress in 1995, resigned a few weeks after the election victory.

Sandi Jackson was on the Chicago City Council from 2007 until January, when she resigned.

As the once-promising couple left the courthouse Wednesday, Jackson Jr. tried to have the last word.

"I still believe in the power of forgiveness," he said. "I believe in the power of redemption. Today I manned up and tried to accept responsibility for the errors of my ways. And I still believe in the resurrection."

But a heckler got in a final jab.

Jacques Chevalier, 58, of Washington, who described himself as a landlord, said he had watched the hearings from an overflow room for spectators.

"Please leave D.C.," he shouted at the Jacksons. "We don't need your kind here no more. And this is a black man speaking."

Marina Villeneuve of the Tribune Washington Bureau and Tribune reporters Monique Garcia, Kim Geiger and Jason Meisner in Chicago contributed.


Twitter @KatherineSkiba