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The jury got it right

Wednesday, Jun 11, 2014

* After Rep. Derrick Smith’s guilty verdict was announced yesterday, a juror told the Tribune that the federal mole was “a slippery and disgusting character” and said the FBI’s investigation was “somewhat sleazy.” More from what the juror said

Jason Carter, 29, said the jury’s reservations included the FBI’s use of an undercover informant and two-time felon – a man identified at trial only as “Pete” — who repeatedly pushed the West Side legislator on a plan to extort a day care operator who needed a letter of support for a state grant. The scheme was a ruse concocted by federal agents.

“It didn’t feel right to us,” Carter said. “It’s not like he went to a day care and shook them down. He went to an FBI day care…but that was not to be considered by us.”

But

Finally, after four hours of sometimes-heated deliberations, the jury was able to use the judge’s legal instructions to come to a unanimous verdict on each count of bribery and extortion, Carter said. […]

For a time, the jury’s foreman – not Carter — was strongly opposed to convicting Smith. But in the end, it was Smith who convicted himself with his own words, caught on undercover recordings talking about “cheddar” and “seven stacks” of cash and insisting on hiding any paper trail of the kickback, according to Carter.

“He never said, ‘Hey, listen Pete, I do these letters all the time and they are to help my constituents, not for my own personal gain,’” Carter said.

That’s exactly right. Smith deserved what he got, even if the feds went overboard on this thing.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


25 Comments
  1. - Been There - Wednesday, Jun 11, 14 @ 9:34 am:

    ===That’s exactly right. Smith deserved what he got, even if the feds went overboard on this thing. ===
    While I agree Smith deserved what he got, sometimes (or maybe all the time) the feds have to be held in check. That could mean that the bad guy gets off. Just look at how we now have the Miranda warning.


  2. - CirularFiringSquad - Wednesday, Jun 11, 14 @ 9:45 am:

    But it was real handy for the G to have a previously unsuccessful snitch on the payroll for four years looking to make suggestions


  3. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Jun 11, 14 @ 9:47 am:

    Smith convicted himself. He went down that illegal path. My pre-schoolers would recognize that you don’t do what Smith did. What the FBI mole did was pave the way to hell. Smith fired up his engine and drove right down into it, knowing full well that it was wrong.


  4. - PublicServant - Wednesday, Jun 11, 14 @ 9:47 am:

    Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer…except if they’re named Pete.


  5. - Wensicia - Wednesday, Jun 11, 14 @ 9:49 am:

    If the after effect is to put would be bribe takers on alert for a possible sting by the feds, this was worth it. Smith was guilty, and that’s no scam.


  6. - Roamin' Numeral - Wednesday, Jun 11, 14 @ 9:50 am:

    Taxpayer dollars well spent.


  7. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Jun 11, 14 @ 9:51 am:

    Besides, if what the FBI did here is a concern to you - what the heck do you think is happening with the NSA taking everything you say or do online and recording it?

    Everyone has a record now. Thanks to what is passing as law enforcement, the government doesn’t need to wait for you to commit a crime anymore. All you have to do is contribute to a minority political cause and you can get your life completely shanked - even years later.

    At least Smith took money before he got convicted. There have been more than a few cases recently when we’ve seen folks lose it all even when they didn’t commit a crime.


  8. - Montrose - Wednesday, Jun 11, 14 @ 10:06 am:

    Smith should have been convicted on stupidity alone. A $7,000 bribe from a day care center for a letter to help secure a $50,000 grant? How could anyone hear that and think, “Yes. I think this offer is legitimate, and I will accept this money.”?


  9. - Chicago Cynic - Wednesday, Jun 11, 14 @ 10:08 am:

    This whole things just stinks. The FBI needs to be held in check, but jeez, just how dumb and how Craven was Smith. It’s real simple folks. If someone approaches you with a dirty deal, be like Nancy Reagan. Just say no.


  10. - Upon Further Review - Wednesday, Jun 11, 14 @ 10:18 am:

    We can all agree that this was not the most cost effective prosecution, but the government needed to go to whole nine yards because Smith refused to accept reality and seek to plea bargain. He gambled on turning one juror and struck out.


  11. - x ace - Wednesday, Jun 11, 14 @ 10:21 am:

    Appears Jury considered and argued about the right issues and their deliberation resulted in a Guilty Verdict. Whether we bystanders think Smith was Guilty or Not , the System Worked as designed.


  12. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jun 11, 14 @ 10:23 am:

    The judge ran a tight trial and issued narrow instructions. Juries can do what they want, but they didn’t have a choice once they decided to follow the instructions to the letter.

    Still a waste of time and resources. Send Sneaky Pete to Austin to make some street heroin buys if he wishes to continue his fight for justice.


  13. - Amalia - Wednesday, Jun 11, 14 @ 10:37 am:

    The defense attorney’s comment after the verdict was ridiculous….yes, he took the money, but….. Stupid, illegal behavior.


  14. - A guy... - Wednesday, Jun 11, 14 @ 11:13 am:

    Good for this jury and this juror. They narrowed the focus to the facts like they are supposed to. I’m glad there was some thoughtful debate. Could have been a circus, and instead we got a model of good justice.


  15. - D.P.Gumby - Wednesday, Jun 11, 14 @ 11:44 am:

    Fed’s have better things to do than go out and make up crimes even if they do get convictions.


  16. - LizPhairTax - Wednesday, Jun 11, 14 @ 11:49 am:

    Big deal. They caught a dummy being dumb. As YDD pointed out yesterday, if he’d only asked for a check and reported it the exact same transaction would’ve been legal. Derrick didn’t even get home improvements like others have. Just dumb.


  17. - Jack Handy - Wednesday, Jun 11, 14 @ 11:53 am:

    What criteria did Smith meet for the Feds to say, “Let’s see if this guy will take a bribe”.


  18. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jun 11, 14 @ 11:57 am:

    –What criteria did Smith meet for the Feds to say, “Let’s see if this guy will take a bribe”.–

    A fed snitch already on the payroll.


  19. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, Jun 11, 14 @ 12:15 pm:

    @Handy -

    Two things:

    1. Links to bigger fish.
    2. Record of misuse of public resources and proven ability to get caught.

    The second is important, as I noted yesterday, because it more or less takes the entrapment defense off the table.

    Law enforcement isn’t supposed to set traps to snare the otherwise innocent, but snaring unwary folks with a record of misbehaving is okay.


  20. - Anon - Wednesday, Jun 11, 14 @ 12:57 pm:

    The fact that Rep. Smith did wrong does not make the federal fishing expedition right.

    It appears as if the federal goal was to lure someone they had no reason to believe is committing a given crime into doing so. I’m sure all of those who condemn Smith would easily resist repeated blandishments from a mole to do wrong. Suppose the temptation isn’t a bribe, however, but to, say, patronize a prostitute? Or buy firecrackers? Or to drive after drinking too much? Does that fact that some mere mortals will eventually succumb to temptation justify the Feds tempting us?


  21. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, Jun 11, 14 @ 1:20 pm:

    Anon -

    I suspect worse: that the Missing Tapes included Smith expressing strong reservations, perhaps even suggesting that if they want to write a check for $7K it should go to the campaign….

    ….having said all of that, Smith did have a prior for misuse of public resources, so he was fair game.


  22. - Mokenavince - Wednesday, Jun 11, 14 @ 3:09 pm:

    Another sleazy politician bites the dust. Who’s next?


  23. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, Jun 11, 14 @ 3:26 pm:

    ==Another sleazy politician bites the dust. Who’s next?==

    After this minnow, maybe they’ll move onto a common carp. Another big catch!


  24. - Just Me - Wednesday, Jun 11, 14 @ 8:55 pm:

    I have to think the Feds suspected he was taking bribes elsewhere but needed hard proof for a conviction so they created the situation. Why else would they choose this empty suit to pick on?


  25. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jun 11, 14 @ 10:46 pm:

    –Why else would they choose this empty suit to pick on?–

    Their snitch was already working for Smith.


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