CHICAGO (CBS) — A state lawmaker from the West Side was arrested on bribery charges on Tuesday.
Illinois State Rep. Derrick Smith (D-Chicago) has been charged with one count of accepting a bribe. Federal prosecutors said Smith was arrested Tuesday, after an undercover investigation found he allegedly accepted $7,000 to write a letter of recommendation for a daycare center that he thought was seeking a state grant.
Since December, Smith and an unnamed political aide — who was cooperating with the FBI — had several discussions about helping a fictional daycare center owner obtain a state grant, in exchange for a political contribution. The daycare center itself was real, but the owner Smith was allegedly trying to help was fake, part of a sting by the FBI.
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On March 2, Smith provided the aide with an official letter of support for the daycare owner to obtain a $50,000 Early Childhood Construction Grant from the state’s Capital Development Board. In return, during a recorded meeting this past Saturday, the aide gave Smith $7,000 in cash, purportedly from the fictional daycare owner, according to federal prosecutors.
Smith was appointed state representative for the 10th District, which covers portions of Chicago’s Near West and Near Northwest sides, in March 2011, and is a candidate for the 10th District seat in next week’s primary election.
As CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reports, Smith declined to say anything to reporters as he left the Dirksen Building federal courthouse Tuesday afternoon after his initial court appearance. He was released on a $4,500 signature bond.
According to the complaint, the FBI began receiving information concerning Smith from his political aide in December 2011.
He told agents that Smith has talked about his need for assistance in campaign fundraising and wanted donations in the range of $5,000 to $7,000. The aide said Smith stated that he was willing to accommodate donors’ requests so long as they were reasonable.
Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, who helped Smith get into the Illinois House and was backing his re-election bid, said in a written statement: “I am very disappointed with the conduct alleged in the charges. I am confident this case will be handled fairly and justly by the judicial system.”
Smith also once worked for White as a deputy director at the Secretary of State’s office.