An Illinois state representative was released on a $4,500 signature bond Tuesday after appearing in court following his arrest on federal bribery charges.
Rep. Derrick Smith (D-Chicago) is accused of taking a $7,000 cash bribe and then writing a letter of support for a daycare center he believed was seeking a state grant.
He whispered "yes" and "no" responses in his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jan Nolan.
Smith has reportedly been under investigation since December. According to federal authorities, one of Smith's former campaign workers, who was working with investigators, approached Smith with information about a day care owner who was seeking a state grant to make repairs on the facility.
According to that worker, Smith said he would help the daycare owner in return for a $5,000 political contribution. Later, Smith told the worker that if the day care owner was "legitimate," she could come up with a $7,000 contribution.
The day care itself was an actual business, but the owner's name and the story of her seeking a grant was a ruse by authorities, they said.
Smith didn't know that, of course, and ultimately received $7,000 in cash last Saturday, authorities said.
Smith was appointed to the post a year ago to fill the void left by Annazette Collins, who herself was appointed to the Illinois Senate following Sen. Rickey Hendon's resignation. He's currently running to maintain his seat in a race against Tom Swiss, a former Cook County Republican Party leader who switched parties.
If convicted, Smith faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.