A federal jury on Tuesday found Illinois State Rep. Derrick Smith guilty of taking a $7,000 bribe from a purported day care operator seeking a state grant. He was also found guilty of attempted extortion. NBC5’s Charlie Wojciechowski reports.
A federal jury on Tuesday found Illinois State Rep. Derrick Smith guilty of taking a $7,000 bribe from a purported day care operator seeking a state grant. He was also found guilty of attempted extortion.
The bribery conviction carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison and the attempted extortion conviction carries a maximum of 20 years. It also means the Chicago Democrat will, for the second time, lose his seat in the House.
"God knows the truth about it all, the jury just didn't see what God saw," the 10th District representative told reporters outside the courtroom.
Smith will remain free on bail while he awaits sentencing. A sentencing date was not immediately set but a court appearance was scheduled for Sept. 23.
Smith, 50, was charged in February of 2012 of accepting the bribe in exchange for a promise to help steer a state grant grant to a day care center. The day care center turned out to be just part of the FBI's elaborate sting.
Despite his indictment in the spring of 2012, Smith went on to win the March primary. His colleagues in the House voted to expel him from the body in August -- the first time in more than 100 years such action had been taken -- but he was re-installed by voters in the general election three months later. Illinois law prevented House members for expelling him a second time for the same reason.
He was defeated in the primary election earlier this year and was considered a lame duck lawmaker.
A major portion of the government's case against Smith were secret recordings of the representative meeting with an FBI informant. In one, the informant is heard counting aloud as he hands the cash in seven $1,000 stacks to Smith.
Defense attorney Vince Henderson said the FBI's informant wasn't credible, describing the witness as a convicted felon who "set up" Smith in order to get up to $1,000 a week from the FBI for his cooperation.
"He's a hustler," Henderson told jurors during closing arguments. "He hustled the representative and he hustled the FBI."
Jurors deliberated for about four hours before announcing they'd reached a verdict.