For all the talk of Jesse Jackson Jr. aspiring to be a U.S. senator or mayor of the nation's third-largest city, his career wasn't ended by attempts to amass political power.
Instead, it was the former congressman's desire for flashy items — a gold-plated Rolex watch, furs and collectibles, such as Eddie Van Halen's guitar.
In a state where stop-at-nothing political ambition has been well documented — and often rewarded — the seemingly frivolous cause of Jackson's undoing is seen by political observers and at least one former colleague as both nonsensical and sad.
"I think it’s very sad anytime someone violates their oath of office," said Governor Pat Quinn. "We have a duty to the people to do things right all the time and anyone who violates their oath it's a major, major sad day for our state."
Federal officials filed charges Friday against Jesse Jackson Jr. after the former congressman reportedly signed a plea deal for allegedly improperly spending hundreds of thousands in campaign funds.
Prosecutors will recommend a prison sentence for between 46 and 57 months plus fines, according to reports.
"When you have a magic name like that, he was in position, waiting for the gun to go off, for mayor, the Senate ... he was playing with the big guys." said Paul Green, a longtime political scientist at Roosevelt University in Chicago who moderated Jackson's first congressional campaign debate. "To go down for this, you just feel sad."
Jackson's wife, former Chicago Ald. Sandi Jackson, has also been charged with falsifying her tax returns and reporting less income than she made.
When Jackson resigned from office in November, he cited his bipolar disorder and acknowledged he also was under federal investigation. Sandi Jackson resigned from her Chicago alderman seat in January.
U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, who represents a neighboring district and visited Jackson Jr. shortly after his release from treatment at the Mayo Clinic, said the charges against the Jacksons "couldn't be more unfortunate."
"I think things probably just got out of hand for them and they got involved in making decisions that just didn't make a lot of good sense," Davis said.
Davis wondered whether the long list of luxury purchases mentioned in the federal criminal complaint were "an indication that his bipolar condition kind of was manifesting itself even then."
If so, he said, it's unfair to compare this situation to other Illinois corruption.
"It's hard to rationalize it," Davis said. "Not all elected officials in Illinois are corrupt or building any kind of political dynasty or trying to develop political power. Most individuals elected to public office are citizens who want to make the most effective use of themselves and make this world a better place in which to live."
Associated Press writers Don Babwin and Tammy Webber contributed to this report.