An Illinois state representative caught on tape accepting a 7-thousand dollar bribe pleaded not guilty today (Monday) in federal court. Following the hearing, Derrick Smith made his first public comments since his arrest. Smith’s attorney entered the not guilty plea on his behalf. A few minutes later, in the courthouse lobby, a visibly nervous Smith read a prepared statement to the cameras.
SMITH: My lawyers have encouraged me to stay quiet until now.
The remarks end six weeks of silence for the Chicago Democrat, whose arrest a week before the primary election…didn’t prevent his victory.
SMITH: I look forward to having the opportunity to clear my name.
Prosecutors say Smith took a cash bribe he believed was coming from the owner of a day care center seeking a state grant.
SMITH: 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.
Separate from the criminal proceedings, Smith faces possible expulsion from the Illinois House. (Sam Hudzik)