FBI CHICAGO—Illinois State Representative DERRICK SMITH (10th District) was convicted today on federal corruption charges for accepting a $7,000 cash bribe in March 2012 to write an official letter of support for a daycare center that he believed was seeking a state grant as part of an undercover investigation. Smith was found guilty by a jury that began deliberating Monday afternoon following a trial that began on May 28.
Smith, 50, of Chicago, was convicted on one count each of bribery and
attempted extortion. No sentencing date was immediately set. A status
hearing was set for September 23 before U.S. District Judge Sharon
Johnson Coleman. Bribery carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in
prison and attempted extortion carries a maximum of 20 years, and both
counts carry a $250,000 maximum fine. The court must impose a reasonable
sentence under federal statutes and the advisory United States
According to the evidence at trial, a confidential source identified
as “Pete,” who worked on Smith’s political campaigns, and who,
unbeknownst to Smith, was cooperating with the FBI, had numerous
conversations with Smith about helping a fictional daycare owner obtain a
purported state grant in exchange for a cash bribe. On March 2, 2012,
Smith provided Pete with an official letter of support for the daycare
owner to obtain a $50,000 Early Childhood Construction Grant from the
state’s Capital Development Board. In return, during a recorded meeting
on March 10, 2012, Pete gave Smith $7,000 cash, purportedly from the
fictional daycare owner.
In March 2011, Smith was appointed state representative for the 10th
District, which covers portions of Chicago’s near west and near
northwest sides. He was campaigning for his General Assembly seat in the
March 20, 2012 primary election when he was arrested on March 13, 2012.
Despite being impeached, he was elected to his seat in November 2012
while the charges were pending, but he became a lame duck this past
February when he lost his primary bid for re-election.
Trial evidence showed that Pete approached the agents in December
2011 and said that that Smith was willing to trade political and
non-political favors for money. During multiple recorded in-person
meetings and telephone calls beginning January 24, 2012, Smith agreed to
write a letter of support for the purported grant application in
exchange for a $7,000 bribe. On January 26, 2012, Smith and Pete toured
the daycare facility, and Smith was given information about its
purported expansion plans.
Throughout February 2012, Smith and Pete had multiple conversations
in which Pete told Smith that the daycare was applying for an Early
Childhood Construction Grant. During those recorded conversations, Smith
agreed to provide a letter of support in exchange for the daycare
owner’s payment of $7,000. In late February 2012, Smith directed Pete to
have the daycare owner draft a letter for Smith to sign, and law
enforcement sent a draft letter of support to Smith’s office via e-mail.
On March 2, 2012, Pete retrieved the letter, which was signed by Smith
on his official letterhead and was addressed to the Illinois Capital
During early March 2012, Smith told Pete that he wanted payment from
the daycare owner, and Smith rejected payment by cashier’s check because
he did not want any trace of the money. Smith told Pete that he wanted
the $7,000 in cash and agreed to give Pete $2,000 for arranging the
deal. On March 10, 2012, Pete met with Smith in Smith’s vehicle, and
Pete counted out the $7,000―all in $100 bills―for Smith during their
Smith did not report receipt of the cash on his Illinois campaign
finance reports. After he was arrested, Smith admitted to agents that he
had accepted $7,000 in exchange for the letter of support, and,
accompanied by agents, he retrieved $2,500 from beneath a chest at the
foot of his bed at his home and returned that money to the agents.
The verdict was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States
Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert J. Holley,
Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of
The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Marsha A. McClellan and Michael T. Donovan.