In a major blow to State Rep. Derrick Smith’s defense against bribery charges, a federal judge ruled Wednesday that jurors can hear that Smith admitted to FBI agents that he’d “f—– up” within hours of his arrest in 2012.
Smith — who is due to stand trial next month for allegedly accepting a $7,000 bribe — had asked U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman to ban prosecutors from using damaging admissions he is said to have made when he was interviewed without his attorney.
But Coleman Wednesday didn’t buy Smith’s argument that he believed he was in a “plea negotiation” with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office when he allegedly quickly confessed in March 2012 and led agents to $2,500 of the bribe money, which he’d hidden in a chest at the foot of his bed.
Smith’s attorney, Joshua Adams, acknowledged that Smith was warned anything he said could be used against him but argued that when a prosecutor used a law book to show Smith the possible prison term he was facing, Smith “believed he was in a plea negotiation.”
Coleman noted that even by Adam’s account, Smith had raised the question of how long he might get in jail after he had been read his Miranda rights, denying Smith’s request to bar prosecutors from using evidence of his statement.
Smith, a West Side Democrat, has pleaded not guilty. For two years he has publicly denied he accepted a $7,000 cash bribe to write a letter of support for a daycare operator seeking a $50,000 state grant.
He became the first state representative in more than a century to be booted from office by his fellow representatives in September 2012, though he won re-election just two months later.
Last month, however, he lost a primary battle, despite financial support from House Speaker Michael Madigan.
Coleman on Wednesday also rejected attempts by Smith’s attorneys to get the government to turn over more information about its relationship with the informant who allegedly taped Smith accepting the bribe.
Prosecutors say they don’t expect to call the informant as a witness.