In the two years since he was indicted on bribery charges, State Rep. Derrick Smith has defiantly maintained his innocence in public.
But within hours of his arrest in March 2012, the West Side Democrat admitted to FBI agents that he “f – - – ed up” when he accepted a $7,000 cash bribe to write a letter of support for a daycare operator seeking a $50,000 state grant, prosecutors allege in court papers filed late Monday.
Smith told the agents he was “going crazy” about his poor campaign finances and that the bribe was “all about getting money to put back out on the streets in the hands of his campaign workers,” even handing FBI agents back $2,500 of the bribe money, which he’d stashed under a chest at the foot of his bed, FBI reports state.
According to the FBI reports, Smith, who waived his right to remain silent and spoke to agents for three hours without his lawyer present, hoped to keep his arrest quiet. He asked that he not be accompanied back to his home to retrieve the bribe money by white FBI agents, the report says. Instead he was charged later that day.
“At numerous times during the interview, Smith stated ‘I f – - - ed up’ and said that he should never have written a letter for the daycare,” the report concludes.
Smith’s lawyer, Vic Henderson, has urged U.S. District Judge Sharon Coleman to ban jurors from hearing the damning evidence at Smith’s trial next month, claiming Smith’s admissions were part of a private “plea negotiation.”
“The evidence is clear that Mr. Smith made these statements in contemplation of a guilty plea,” Henderson wrote in a filing last month.
But prosecutors say Smith “was engaged in a standard law enforcement interview and knew well that his statements could be used against him,” and that admissions Smith made to an assistant U.S. attorney should also be heard by jurors.
Coleman has yet to rule.
Smith 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.
His trial starts May 28.