WBEZ | Victor Henderson http://www.wbez.org/tags/victor-henderson Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en 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 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