Derrick Smith, an Illinois state representative, was convicted on Tuesday of accepting a $7,000 bribe just before he won the Democratic primary in 2012, according to a Chicago Tribune report on Tuesday. Speaking to reporters about the unanimous verdict, Smith still suggested his innocence by saying, “God knows the truth.” The jurors deliberated just four hours before turning over the guilty verdict against Smith.
Smith, 50, has been found guilty on felony counts of bribery and extortion. He will now lose his legislative seat, as the move is automatic via Illinois state law. Smith was almost finished with his service to the state as a representative anyway since he lost the Democratic primary of which he was a candidate earlier this year. After being charged with the felonies, he refused to step down as a candidate but lost.
Smith is just one of many Illinois politicians who have been caught using their political position for financial gain in the recent past. In Smith’s case, he accepted $7,000 in cash in exchange for writing a letter of support for a daycare operator in his governmental district. The letter was written for the daycare operator to get a very profitable state grant. Little did Smith know, however, that he was dealing with undercover agents who were part of an FBI investigation. Smith took the bait and has finally been found guilty. The felony charges were focused on many recordings that were recorded by an undercover informant approximately two years ago, says the Sun-Times.
Smith and his legal representation continue to state that Smith was set up in the incident. His attorney said that there was no crime, but it was fabricated and it was a ruse. Assistant U.S. Attorney Marsha McClennan disagrees. She said that public officials don’t take bribes out in the open. It’s done behind closed doors with people they trust – which makes undercover work, as Smith was subjected to, essential to most bribery investigations.