Indicted Rep. Smith wants informant’s criminal past publicized
BY NATASHA KORECKI Federal Courts Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org June 12, 2012 3:37PM
Updated: July 14, 2012 6:31AM
Illinois State Rep. Derrick Smith — accused of taking a $7,000 bribe — wants to publicize information about a confidential informant who cooperated against him, saying it would help convince lawmakers not to boot him from Springfield and convince voters to elect him in the fall.
Smith’s lawyer, Victor Henderson, said in a court hearing on Tuesday that he wanted to use some of the information about the informant — namely, the individual’s criminal background — as Smith fights getting ousted from the Legislature.
Henderson said Smith’s case is unusual because he’s fighting to clear his name in court and in the Legislature — and in public as he seeks re-election in the fall.
“I want people to know. They should know about his background,” Henderson said of the confidential informant after court on Tuesday. “We want it out and they want to hide it.”
Henderson said he wants to present information about the confidential informant to the panel probing Smith in Springfield.
Prosecutors are protesting the move, saying it is a dangerous proposition to out a cooperating source’s identity, especially one that has been of apparent great value to federal investigators.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Deis said identifying the confidential informant puts the individual and his family at risk because he had cooperated in other investigations of others besides Smith.
“We’re talking about the well-being and safety of a human being,” Deis told U.S. District Judge Sharon Coleman. “What these people don’t know is the extent of that cooperating individual’s cooperation.” Deis said information regarding other investigations has not been made public. If it were, “that raises the prospect of retaliation or intimidation.”
Coleman said she would decide on the matter by Friday.
Last month, Smith spoke publicly in the federal courthouse about the case, vowing he would not “cower” to the charges.
He referenced “shenanigans” he said the FBI pulled on him, and Smith’s lawyer later castigated the government’s confidential informant.
“I intend to fight these charges. I look forward to having the opportunity to clear my name,” Smith told reporters inside the Dirksen Federal Courthouse. Smith said he was troubled by “the shenanigans being played by the FBI to lean on people around me.”
“I will not cower,” Smith vowed. “I intend to stand tall with my wife, family, friends, House colleagues and lawyers.”
“The people in my district elected me on March the 20, 2012 even after the government charged me with wrongdoing and that’s because they believed in me and what I will do to represent them in Springfield,” he continued. “God gives us all a cross to bear and this lawsuit is mine.”
Smith is accused of taking a $7,000 cash bribe in exchange for his letter of support for a daycare center that sought a $50,000 state grant.
Smith had been charged in a criminal complaint and was arrested March 13 — just a week before the primary election. Smith was re-elected, winning 77 percent of the vote.
The government’s criminal complaint indicates that Smith and the cooperator met in a car on March 10, where the wired-up informant appears to count the thousand-dollar stacks in a conversation quoted in charges: “One. Two. Three. Four. Five. D---, stuck together. Six. Seven.”
Smith then asks: “You don’t want me to give you yours now?”
According to charges, Smith planned to give the informant a $2,000 cut.