- (Photo: Reuters/Mitch Dumke)
Rick Warren, founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., has confirmed a visit to disgraced former Illinois Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. in his North Carolina prison on Friday, describing the visit in a public statement as a "private moment."
Jackson, currently serving a 30-month sentence for stealing $750,000 in campaign funds for personal purchases, has started receiving visitors at the Butner Federal Correctional Facility since being admitted on Oct. 29.
Among the former Congressman's guests were Pastor Warren and Saddelback Church's Associate Pastor Anthony Miller.
"This is a private moment and we just want to love on him and pray with him," Warren said in a statement, according to the Chicago-Sun Times Voices blog.
An Atlanta attorney named C.K. Hoffler was reportedly facilitating Jackson's visits, and has said that Warren and Miller found the former Congressman in "good spirits all things considered."
"He continues to regret all of the pain, shame and embarrassment that he has caused his family, his constituents and his friends but has begun the process of repaying his debt to society," the Voices blog reported Hoffler as saying.
According to WLS-TV in Chicago, Pastor Warren added, "We believe in leaders and second chances."
It was not known if Jackson and his representatives requested a visit from Pastor Warren, or whether the California megachurch pastor took it upon himself to make a trip to the federal correctional facility in North Carolina.
Jackson, son of civil rights activist and Baptist minister the Rev. Jesse Jackson, bought as many as 3,000 personal items with the $750,000 illegally taken from his campaign treasury. Among the many items the 48-year-old Democrat purchased between 2005 and 2012 were a Rolex watch, furs, vacations, furniture, and two mounted elk heads.
The Illinois politician from Chicago's South Side was expected to be released in Dec. 31, 2014, according to The Chicago Tribune. The paper also reports that Jackson's wife, Sandi Jackson, "a former Chicago alderman who was convicted on a related tax count, is to voluntarily surrender to the Bureau of Prisons to serve a 12-month sentence 30 days after her husband is a free man." While Mr. Jackson has paid back $200,000 so far, his wife was ordered to pay $22,000 in restitution.