WBEZ | bribery http://www.wbez.org/tags/bribery Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Attorneys debate use of 'pimping' in bribery trial of Illinois lawmaker http://www.wbez.org/news/attorneys-debate-use-pimping-bribery-trial-illinois-lawmaker-109404 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/derrick smith (1).jpg" alt="" /><p><p>As they prepare for the trial of an Illinois state representative accused of taking a bribe, attorneys are debating the use of the politician&rsquo;s racy language as evidence.</p><p>Federal prosecutors say they have Rep. Derrick Smith, D-Chicago, on tape asking for $7,000 in cash in exchange for backing a grant application. Smith&rsquo;s defense attorneys say Smith was entrapped by the campaign worker who recorded him.</p><p>The representative&rsquo;s trial is scheduled to begin next month. Attorneys were in court Wednesday to go over some details about the case.</p><p>In one instance, Smith&rsquo;s attorneys want to ban from the trial a recording in which they say Smith used the word &ldquo;pimping&rdquo; when describing his job duties in the legislature. They say the comment is unrelated to the charges.</p><p>Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman said the word can have various meanings. Prosecutors jokingly said it can even refer to something good, such as on the MTV show &ldquo;Pimp My Ride.&rdquo;</p><p>The judge is expected to rule on that and other legal issues by the end of the week.</p><p>Smith was expelled from the state House of Representatives by his fellow lawmakers in August 2012, after his bribery indictment. But voters in his district on Chicago&rsquo;s West and Near North Sides voted him back into office that November.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/tonyjarnold">@tonyjarnold</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 18 Dec 2013 15:24:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/attorneys-debate-use-pimping-bribery-trial-illinois-lawmaker-109404 Former Cook County Commissioner Moreno pleads guilty in variety of bribery schemes http://www.wbez.org/news/former-cook-county-commissioner-moreno-pleads-guilty-variety-bribery-schemes-107920 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Federal Court Building Chicago_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-3ac5129a-9cc2-ec0f-d676-32fb729ff1a5">Former Cook County Commissioner Joseph Mario Moreno pleaded guilty to a variety of bribery schemes in federal court in Chicago Monday.</p><p dir="ltr">In his guilty plea Moreno admitted that he used his position on the Cook County board to force a company with a county contract to subcontract some of the work to a company called Chicago Medical Equipment and Supply, which was owned by Moreno&rsquo;s friend Ron Garcia. Garcia was paying part of the profits from the deal back to Moreno.Then in an effort to cover up the kickbacks Moreno wrote up fake invoices for legal work that he never performed.</p><p>Moreno also pleaded guilty to trying to push the Cook County hospital system to buy thousands of bandages from a company that was going to give Moreno five dollars for each bandage purchased. &nbsp;That deal involved former Chicago alderman Ambrosio Medrano. Medrano is scheduled to go to trial on that bribery charge but he was also recently convicted in a related bribery trial. Medrano also spent time in federal prison for taking cash bribes as an alderman in the 1990s. After being released from prison he stayed involved in politics and eventually landed a job with former commissioner Moreno.</p><p>In yet another deal detailed in his guilty plea Monday, Moreno admitted accepting an envelop with a $5,000 cash bribe to support construction of a waste transfer station in Cicero.The bribe was a sting and Moreno now has to pay that money back to the government plus more than $130,000 in restitution. He&rsquo;s likely facing prison time when he&rsquo;s sentenced. Sentencing is scheduled for October.</p></p> Mon, 01 Jul 2013 19:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/former-cook-county-commissioner-moreno-pleads-guilty-variety-bribery-schemes-107920 Lawyer: Ex-alderman never intended to bribe anyone http://www.wbez.org/news/lawyer-ex-alderman-never-intended-bribe-anyone-107530 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP539271569510_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A former Chicago alderman&#39;s attorney has told jurors at a federal bribery trial in Chicago that his client never intended to bribe anyone.</p><p>Ambrosio Medrano and two businessmen are accused of paying bribe money to an undercover agent posing as a sale representative.</p><p>The agent allegedly told the men he&#39;d pass the money to a Los Angeles official who would supposedly take steps to ensure the men landed a lucrative pharmaceutical contract.</p><p>But it was all part of an FBI sting and the official didn&#39;t actually exist.</p><p>During his opening Tuesday, defense attorney Gal Pissetzky said Medrano never believed the official existed and never thought money paid to the agent was bribe money.</p><p>Medrano spent nearly two years in prison after pleading guilty in 1996 to a payoff scheme.</p></p> Tue, 04 Jun 2013 14:08:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/lawyer-ex-alderman-never-intended-bribe-anyone-107530 Judge denies Derrick Smith's request for hearing into key witness http://www.wbez.org/news/politics/judge-denies-derrick-smiths-request-hearing-key-witness-105545 <p><p>A federal judge in Chicago has put the brakes on attempts to investigate whether federal agents lied about a key witness in the case against an Illinois lawmaker.</p><p>Prosecutors allege they caught State Rep. Derrick Smith, a Chicago Democrat, on tape accepting a $7,000 bribe.&nbsp;Smith&rsquo;s attorneys say FBI agents didn&rsquo;t disclose the 20 prior arrests of the person who secretly recorded Smith. Victor Henderson, Smith&#39;s attorney, has said he wants the 27 secret recordings thrown out before the trial. He&#39;s argued in court filings that separating the source&#39;s background from the tapes gathered against Smith is no easier than separating the yolk from an egg.</p><p>&quot;It makes a big difference when you&#39;re starting a case out whether you have a nun or a Sister Bertrille who&#39;s at the center of it, or a confidential informant who&#39;s got a criminal history that&#39;s 40 pages long,&quot; Henderson said leading up to the judge&#39;s decision on Thursday.</p><p>But Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman ruled Thursday there&rsquo;s enough evidence to continue the case against Smith, even if the source&#39;s credibility is an issue.</p><p>&quot;The source&#39;s credibility plays no role in establishing that the words were spoken,&quot; she wrote in her decision, referring to the alleged secret recordings of Smith.</p><p>Smith&rsquo;s trial is scheduled to start in October.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 14 Feb 2013 17:26:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/politics/judge-denies-derrick-smiths-request-hearing-key-witness-105545 Credibility of key witness against State Rep. Derrick Smith is questioned http://www.wbez.org/news/politics/credibility-key-witness-against-state-rep-derrick-smith-questioned-105443 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/derrick smith.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>The bribery case of an Illinois lawmaker may take a rare step this week. Attorneys are scheduled to debate whether federal authorities lied about the background of a key witness who secretly recorded Illinois State Rep. Derrick Smith.</p><p>Prosecutors allege they have Smith on tape saying he wants a $7,000 bribe in cash so there would be no trace of the money. Much of the prosecutors&rsquo; initial complaint relies on secretly recorded conversations Smith had with an unnamed source.</p><p>Now, that anonymous source has become the subject of scrutiny.</p><p>Victor Henderson, Smith&rsquo;s defense attorney, said federal authorities didn&rsquo;t disclose the criminal history of that source. Early on in the case, federal investigators said the source had one prior arrest and had been paid $1,200 by the FBI for work in other cases.</p><p>But both prosecutors and the defense now say that was wrong. The source actually had 20 prior arrests and had been paid $2,100 by the FBI.</p><p>&ldquo;It makes a big difference when you&rsquo;re starting a case out whether you have a nun or a Sister Bertrille who&rsquo;s at the center of it, or a confidential informant who&rsquo;s got a criminal history that&rsquo;s 40 pages long,&rdquo; Henderson said.</p><p>Henderson is calling for the anonymous source and federal agents to testify in a hearing into whether the evidence could be used in Smith&rsquo;s trial, which is scheduled to begin in October.</p><p>Meantime, prosecutors argue in court documents the hearing isn&rsquo;t necessary because the witness&rsquo;s background doesn&rsquo;t change what Smith said on tape.</p><p>Since the charges were brought against Smith, his fellow members of the House of Representatives voted to kick him out of office. But voters in Smith&rsquo;s district on Chicago&rsquo;s west and northwest side voted him back into his old seat in November after a contentious election. At one point during the campaign, the politically powerful Secretary of State Jesse White, who had once supported Smith, told a crowd of ministers that Smith was no longer welcome on the West Side of Chicago.</p><p>&quot;Someone told me that when you take money, make sure you take enough so you can afford a lawyer,&quot; White said, mocking the $7,000 Smith is accused of illegally accepting.</p><p>Shortly after Smith won election, Henderson held a news conference in which he told reporters Smith would be an independent voice in Springfield who would stand up to the legislators who expelled him from public office.</p><p>&ldquo;There were a lot of ministers who didn&rsquo;t want Martin Luther King up here in the &#39;60s because he said he was causing problems. Look what good he did. People wanted Nelson Mandela to be quiet. People wanted Jesus to be quiet,&rdquo; Henderson said in November.</p><p>Lawmakers in Springfield have abandoned attempts to kick Smith out of office again since the state constitution forbids a legislator from being expelled twice for the same reason. Republican State Rep. Jim Durkin, who helped expel Smith last year, has said Smith will have a hard time doing his job since so many House found him unfit to hold public office once before.</p><p>&quot;He will have a very difficult time legislating and, quite frankly, I think that members of the legislature are going to be suspicious of him and some of them will be just downright offended that they&rsquo;re serving with him,&quot; Durkin said.</p></p> Mon, 11 Feb 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/politics/credibility-key-witness-against-state-rep-derrick-smith-questioned-105443 Accused lawmaker’s former patron pushes for Illinois House punishment http://www.wbez.org/news/accused-lawmaker%E2%80%99s-former-patron-pushes-illinois-house-punishment-99881 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/JesseWhite.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px; float: left; width: 248px; height: 309px;" title="Secretary of State Jesse White says lawmakers aren’t moving fast enough against Rep. Derrick Smith, D-Chicago. (AP file/Seth Perlman)" /></div><p>The former political patron of state Rep. Derrick Smith (D-Chicago) says Illinois lawmakers have not moved fast enough to punish him for allegedly taking a bribe.</p><p>Secretary of State Jesse White said Wednesday he was &ldquo;happy&rdquo; a panel of Smith&rsquo;s colleagues had decided to advance a case that could eventually oust him from the House.</p><p>&ldquo;I think there is a price to pay,&rdquo; said White, a longtime 27th Ward committeeman who is backing a third-party candidate in an attempt to unseat Smith in November&rsquo;s election.</p><p>A federal indictment accuses Smith, 48, of accepting $7,000 for supporting a childcare center&rsquo;s application for a $50,000 state grant. The deal turned out to be an FBI sting.</p><p>A seven-page report from a special House committee, a bipartisan panel chaired by Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook), says Smith &ldquo;abused the power of his office by participating in a scheme to obtain a personal benefit in exchange for his official acts.&rdquo;</p><p>The disciplinary case now moves to another committee that will decide whether to recommend punishment to the full House. The lawmakers could exonerate, censure, reprimand or expel Smith.</p><p>&ldquo;Personally it saddens me,&rdquo; Nekritz said, &ldquo;to go through this process with one of our members.&rdquo;</p><p>An expulsion would make Smith the first member ousted from the House since 1905, when Frank Comerford (D-Chicago) lost his seat on charges he damaged his colleagues&rsquo; reputations by complaining about corruption among lawmakers.</p><p>Smith&rsquo;s attorney, Victor Henderson, said Wednesday the House should not take evidence from the feds at face value. &ldquo;This is J. Edgar Hoover&rsquo;s FBI,&rdquo; Henderson said. &ldquo;This is the same FBI that wiretapped Martin Luther King.&rdquo;</p><p>Henderson labeled a federal informant at the case&rsquo;s center a &ldquo;con man&rdquo; and said the House disciplinary process was moving forward without enough information. Henderson said the lawmakers should wait for the criminal case to play out.</p><p>Despite the bribery charge, Smith won his March primary in a landslide vote. Ousting him from the House would not remove him from the November ballot or block voters from returning him to the seat.</p><p>In that event, the state constitution would protect Smith from a second expulsion &ldquo;for the same offense&rdquo; but he could apparently face another disciplinary process.</p><p>Nekritz said she and other committee members were pushing for discipline now because they did not know how long the federal prosecution would take. &ldquo;Our duty,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;is to respect and protect the integrity of the House and the members that serve there.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;The committee felt unanimously that it was . . . important to proceed on the basis of the information we had,&rdquo; Nekritz said.</p></p> Thu, 07 Jun 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/accused-lawmaker%E2%80%99s-former-patron-pushes-illinois-house-punishment-99881 Derrick Smith pleads not guilty, while his attorney compares case to Holocaust http://www.wbez.org/news/derrick-smith-pleads-not-guilty-while-his-attorney-compares-case-holocaust-98681 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP120417079130.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Updated at 2:35 p.m. on April 30, 2012. </em></p><p>An Illinois state representative caught on tape accepting a $7,000 bribe pleaded not guilty Monday morning in federal court. Following the hearing, Derrick Smith made his first public comments since his arrest.</p><p>Smith's attorney entered the<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/arraignment-today-derrick-smith-98601"> not guilty plea</a> on his behalf. A few minutes later, in the courthouse lobby, a visibly nervous Smith read a prepared statement to the cameras.</p><p>"My lawyers have encouraged me to stay quiet until now," he said.</p><p>The remarks end six weeks of silence for the Chicago Democrat, whose arrest a week before the primary election didn't prevent his victory.</p><p>"I look forward to having the opportunity to clear my name," Smith said.</p><p>Prosecutors have said Smith took a cash bribe he believed was coming from the owner of a day care center seeking a state grant.</p><p>"While I have been troubled to experience the shenanigans being played by the FBI, to lean on people around me and to get them to say bad things about me, I will not cower," Smith said.</p><p>Separate from the criminal proceedings, Smith faces possible expulsion from the Illinois House.</p><p>After Smith finished his remarks and left the courthouse, his attorney, Victor Henderson, spoke to reporters.</p><p>Henderson said the FBI misled a federal judge about the criminal background of the confidential informant at the center of the Smith investigation.</p><p>"That's not right. All of us know it. But we can't be afraid to speak out," Henderson told reporters.</p><p>Henderson said the case reminds him of a poem.</p><p>"First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist," Henderson said, reading a printout from the <a href="http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007392">website</a> of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. "Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I am not a Jew. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak to, for me."</p><p>That poem is about Germans who ignored Nazi actions.</p><p>Asked if he was really comparing Derrick Smith's case to the Holocaust, Henderson replied that when the government does something wrong, everyone has "an obligation to stand up."</p><p>"Today it's Derrick Smith," he said. "Who is it tomorrow? That's the point of [my reading] the poem."</p><p>A spokesperson for the U.S. attorney in Chicago had no comment on the statements from Henderson or Smith.</p></p> Mon, 30 Apr 2012 09:23:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/derrick-smith-pleads-not-guilty-while-his-attorney-compares-case-holocaust-98681 Ill. House to convene investigation of Rep. Smith http://www.wbez.org/story/ill-house-convene-investigation-rep-smith-97655 <p><p>The leader of an Illinois House investigation into alleged misconduct by a lawmaker says she will suggest asking federal prosecutors how much they can reveal about their bribery case against Rep. Derrick Smith.</p><p>Democratic Rep. Elaine Nekritz of Northbrook will convene the special investigating committee Tuesday in Springfield.</p><p>She wants to know whether U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's office can provide witnesses or testimony to help the committee determine whether Smith should be disciplined.</p><p>A spokesman for Fitzgerald declined comment Monday.</p><p>Smith was arrested two weeks ago. Authorities allege the Chicago Democrat accepted a $7,000 bribe in exchange for his endorsement of a state grant request.</p><p>Nekritz says if prosecutors can't help the committee will have to determine whether it can recommend discipline against Smith on allegations alone.</p></p> Tue, 27 Mar 2012 14:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/ill-house-convene-investigation-rep-smith-97655