By Andrew Thomason | Illinois Statehouse News
SPRINGFIELD — State. Rep. Derrick Smith
was arrested Tuesday on charges of accepting a $7,000 bribe to steer a state grant to a daycare facility.
The Chicago Democrat’s arrest comes after a three-month investigation by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Illinois.
Smith agreed to write a letter of recommendation for a $50,000 grant from the Capital Development Board of Illinois to a daycare facility, which was a fictional creation of the investigators, in exchange for the bribe, according to the criminal complaint.
Smith demanded a cash bribe, saying, “I don’t want no trace of it,” according to the complaint.
Calls to Smith’s office by Illinois Statehouse News were not returned.
Smith was released on his own recognizance Tuesday after a preliminary hearing in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois in Chicago, according to Randall Samborn, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Chicago.
The case's main informant, who was not identified in the complaint, had worked for Smith during Smith’s unsuccessful bid for Cook County commissioner in 2010, according to the complaint.
Smith offered to falsely register the informant as a state contractor in order to direct state grants to the informant. The informant declined the offer, according to the complaint.
Smith was officially charged with one count of accepting a bribe. The felony charge has a maximum 10-year jail sentence and a maximum fine of $250,000.
Smith is running for re-election, and is facing Tom Swiss
in the March 20 primary. The charges, while possibly causing political fallout, do not disqualify Smith from running.
“A conviction is a different story, but as a far as being charged, that doesn’t affect the ability to run for office,” said Illinois State Board of Elections spokesman Jim Tenuto.
Smith has been in the Legislature for less than a year. He was appointed when his predecessor, Annazette Collins, D-Chicago, moved on to the Illinois Senate.
Smith worked in Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White
’s office, and White endorsed Smith in his upcoming primary.
"I am very disappointed with the conduct alleged in the charges," White said in a press release. "I am confident this case will be handled fairly and justly by the judicial system."