Jury Convicts Rep. Smith Of Accepting $7,000 Bribe
Updated 06/10/14 – 1:16 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Following approximately 4 hours of deliberations, a federal jury has convicted state Rep. Derrick Smith of bribery and extortion charges.
Smith showed little reaction, smiling slightly as the jury returned guilty verdicts on one count of bribery and one count of extortion early Tuesday afternoon at the Dirksen Building federal courthouse. Jurors deliberated about two hours Monday before going home for the night, and approximately two hours more Tuesday morning before reaching their verdict.
Smith, 50, was accused of taking a $7,000 cash bribe from a federal informant, in exchange for supporting a state grant for a daycare center in his district. Although the daycare center was real, the approach regarding a state grant was part of a federal sting.
He faces up to 10 years in bribery for the bribery conviction, and up to 20 years for the extortion conviction.
Prosecutors said wiretap recordings proved Smith took a bribe from the informant. Jurors heard recordings of Smith saying he wanted to be paid in cash so there would be no trace of the bribe, and referring to the money several times as “cheddar.” They also heard a recording of the informant, identified only as “Pete,” counting out stacks of cash for Smith when he handed over the money.
“The most important piece of evidence was obviously the undercover recordings of Smith talking about the money he wanted in exchange for writing the letter of support, and agreeing to do it,” First Assistant U.S. Atty. Gary Shapiro said after Tuesday’s verdict.
Smith maintained he was set up. His defense argued Smith was entrapped by a paid informant who did not follow the FBI’s instructions in recording conversations with Smith, by using multiple phones to contact him, leaving some conversations unrecorded.
After his conviction, Smith again claimed he is innocent.
“I know that I was working for the people, and that is what I want [to] continue to do, is taking care of the people,” Smith said.
Smith will remain free on bond, pending sentencing. No sentencing date has been set yet. Once sentenced, he will officially lose his seat in the Illinois House as a convicted felon.