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Rep. Smith’s lawyer tries to cast doubt on federal case

Friday, May 30, 2014

* Rep. Derrick Smith’s attorney Vic Henderson went after the federal prosecutor’s case during yesterday’s opening arguments

The [FBI] mole was someone who was “down on his luck — he always needed money, always needed a place to stay,” Henderson said. “Because Derrick was a kind-hearted guy, he tried to help out.”

But the mole tricked both Smith and the feds by only recording some of the phone calls and conversations he had with Smith, Henderson alleged.

And Henderson denied Smith had confessed to the FBI, saying Smith had merely admitted he “messed up” by trusting the mole.

Though he acknowledged Smith wrote the letter in support of the grant application, Henderson said “that was his job — he supported anyone who came to him from his district.”

Calling Smith a “baby legislator” who was desperate to hold onto his seat and needed money, he told jurors “there’s a lot you haven’t heard.”

* But the case against Smith appears pretty darned solid

As the 2012 election season loomed, the campaign worker went to the FBI offering to wear a wire and record Smith scheming to receive a bribe, prosecutor Michael Donovan told jurors at the Chicago trial.

In a transcript of one recorded conversation displayed by Donovan on a large courtroom screen, Smith rejects Pete’s suggestion that he accept the money in a traceable cashier’s check.

“OK. Cash?” responds the informant.

“Yeah,” the legislator answers, “I don’t want no trace of it.”

In another recorded conversation, Smith tells Pete he needs plausible deniability, saying, “I don’t let the left hand know what the right hand is doing, man.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Lobo Y Olla - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 10:09 am:

    Calling Smith a “baby legislator” who was desperate to hold onto his seat and needed money, he told jurors “there’s a lot you haven’t heard.”

    Establishing motive for the Government in your opening statement is risky, risky, risky. Motive is not an element that the Government needs to prove.

    And it looks like I owe LizPhairTax a hearty, “you were right.” Looks like Vic is driving, not Sam.

  2. - A guy... - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 10:17 am:

    He was a new or junior legislator. Not a baby! One law I know to be in effect is that “babies” are not eligible to run for office. No petition ever had “footprints” as signatures. I think this dude is 50. If you haven’t learned ethics before then, you’re just a corrupt taker. Go Directly to Jail. Don’t collect another dime.

  3. - VanillaMan - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 10:29 am:

    “I don’t want no trace of it.”

    If you want to pretend Smith is a sweet little, big hearted Madigan duckling, his statement here should put an end to that.

  4. - OneMan - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 10:34 am:

    Rep. Smith’s lawyer tries to cast doubt on federal case

    I suppose that is better than

    Rep. Smith’s lawyer just sits there and says, “I got nothin’”

  5. - Upon Further Review - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 10:35 am:

    What a load of horse manure! Smith was in a safe Democratic district that reelected him handily even after he was expelled from the House. If he had behaved decently, he could have been a life long incumbent.

    The only threat to Smith’s tenure or longevity was Smith himself.

  6. - wordslinger - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 10:36 am:

    No defense of Smith, but was this good use of FBI resources? Smith was a nobody, with no influence on anything

    Smith unknowingly had a a long-term, for-pay, FBI snitch on the payroll. The snitch suggests soliciting a bribe and sets up the sting with the FBI.

    Okay. Whatever. You boated the dumbest fish in the pond.

    But it’s certainly not going after systemic corruption, or taking illegal guns off the streets, or shutting down open-air drug markets, or putting any heat on the cartels that have made Chicago their national distribution center.

    You got Derrick Smith. What do you want, a medal?

  7. - Upon Further Review - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 11:01 am:


    You hit the nail on the head. The prosecutors always seem to take out the minnows while the big fish continue to swim about freely.

  8. - Wensicia - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 11:02 am:

    Smith may be small potatoes, yet Madigan continued to support his run for office after the arrest. You really want the feds to skip these guys and let them remain in office? He’s a criminal, soon to be convicted. They were right to go after him.

  9. - MOON - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 11:14 am:


    Who are these “Big Fish” that you speak of?

  10. - x ace - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 11:18 am:

    No such thing as a Slam Dunk in a Jury Trial.

    “Jury Nullification” looms.

    If just one juror subscribes to Wordslinger’s astute ” boated the dumbest fish in the pond”
    theory Smith walks.

  11. - low level - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 11:44 am:

    Yes, Smith is one of the dumbest individuals ever to serve in the IL House.

    How this is relevant to anyone besides Derrick Smith is beyond me.

  12. - Chi - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 12:00 pm:

    There’s gotta be a reason he hasn’t pled guilty here, right? I mean, he doesn’t have a ton of money to waste on a defense, does he? It’s not high-profile enough for him to get any significant discount on the defense, is it? Is he refusing to roll on others? Are there others the Feds care about that would let Derrick Smith in on their schemes? I don’t get why this trial is occurring.

  13. - 47th Ward - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 12:07 pm:

    ===I don’t get why this trial is occurring.===

    Agree 100%. I’ve been wrong on this from the get-go.

  14. - Chi - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 12:16 pm:

    =“Jury Nullification” looms.=

    Come on. A jury is going to agree he took a bribe but decide taking a bribe should not be illegal and acquit him? Do you mean it’s possible one juror decides he’s not guilty, so they don’t convict or acquit him? And then we waste money on another trial because for some reason this doesn’t case refuses to get pled out?

  15. - Formerpol - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 12:19 pm:

    He is going to be convicted. You heard it here first.

  16. - Rich Miller - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 12:30 pm:

    === You heard it here first. ===


    Really? Today, over a year after his arrest, you’re the first to predict he’s gonna be convicted?

    Such genius!

  17. - x ace - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 12:35 pm:

    Chi - it’s going to trial because that’s his only hope and yes , it only takes one juror to prevent a conviction and cause a hung jury.
    So “Roll the Dice” ain’t a bad option. Remember “OJ”.

  18. - A guy... - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 2:40 pm:

    ==== Formerpol - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 12:19 pm:

    He is going to be convicted. You heard it here first.=====

    You may have heard it “here” first. But not from you.

  19. - Upon Further Review - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 3:30 pm:


    Who is Smith going to roll on? If you want to rat out someone else you have to snitch on someone higher up in the food chain, not someone lower.
    Other legislators have been avoiding Smith like a leper for the past two years or longer, so I doubt he has too much inside information to peddle.

  20. - Leave a Light on George - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 3:39 pm:

    “You hit the nail on the head. The prosecutors always seem to take out the minnows while the big fish continue to swim about freely”

    Two Gov’s, a US Senator, Senator’s wife. How big a fish do you want?

  21. - Upon Further Review - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 3:44 pm:

    Two former Governors. Both Blagojevich and Ryan were out of office when they were tried.

    What US Senator and wife are you referring to? My comments were limited to Chicago and Illinois.

  22. - Leave a Light on George - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 3:48 pm:

    “What US Senator and wife are you referring to? My comments were limited to Chicago and Illinois.”

    Jesse Jackson Jr, and his wife Sandy. Geez try and keep up will you.

  23. - Leave a Light on George - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 3:49 pm:

    Oops my bad. Congressman JJJ

  24. - Upon Further Review - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 3:50 pm:

    Newsflash: Jesse Jackson, Jr. was never a US Senator. He was a do nothing Congressman. His wife was an alderman, but aldermen going to jail is not news.

  25. - Precinct Captain - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 4:07 pm:

    From the Twitter sidebar

    An FBI agent admitted today to embarrassing “mistakes” in the bribery case against state Rep. Derrick Smith.

  26. - Precinct Captain - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 4:13 pm:

    ==The prosecutors always seem to take out the minnows while the big fish continue to swim about freely.==

    Season one of The Wire. Even the federales only want things that might not pollute their waters (don’t go after who recommended them, etc.). We were lucky with Patrick Fitzgerald.

  27. - x ace - Saturday, May 31, 14 @ 12:18 am:

    Wow - Thanks PC for the Twitter link - Sun Times says:
    Informant paid $25,000 to set up Smith with $ 7,000 bribe that was the paid Convicted Felon Informant’s idea and Cops get Wire Tap Order without disclosing the Informants lengthy Criminal History.
    Sounds like a great start for the defense. (Appears they are going to trial with some ammo)

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