Prosecutor: FBI Has Recording of Lawmaker Seeking Bribe

Rep. Derrick Smith is accused of taking a $7,000 bribe in exchange for promising to steer a state grant to a daycare center

Thursday, May 29, 2014  |  Updated 3:21 PM CDT
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Prosecutor: FBI Has Recording of Lawmaker Seeking Bribe

Derrick Smith

The bribery trial of Illinois State Rep. Derrick Smith began Thursday with opening statements.

A prosecutor told the jurors, who were selected Wednesday, that the FBI has a secretly recorded conversation of Rep. Derrick Smith seeking the bribe.

The 50-year-old Chicago-area Democrat has pleaded not guilty to extortion and bribery, which alone carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence. He's accused of pocketing $7,000 in kickbacks to write what he thought was a letter of support for a day care center's state grant application.

Government filings say the Chicago Democrat spoke at length to FBI agents after his 2012 arrest. They describe him as distraught, cursing as he told investigators he'd taken the bribe.

Defense attorney Victor Henderson said the FBI's main source isn't credible.

Smith is accused of seeking the bribe because he feared his campaign workers would abandon him unless he raised money to pay them.

It was allegedly a campaign worker cooperating with investigators who suggested Smith could raise cash by taking the bribe. Smith's lawyers are expected to make the credibility of the campaign worker a focus of their defense.

A judge last week denied Smith's request to postpone the trial so he could finish out the legislative session. The state legislature is scheduled to adjourn on Saturday.

Smith was ousted by House colleagues after his indictment -- the first time in more than 100 years the body has taken such action -- but he regained his seat in the 10th District with a sweeping 63 percent of the vote.

The trial at federal court in Chicago is expected to take a week.


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