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Illinois lawmaker found guilty of bribery

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[June 11, 2014]  By Mary Wisniewski
 
 CHICAGO (Reuters) - A federal jury on Tuesday found an Illinois state representative guilty of taking a $7,000 bribe to support a state grant for a day-care center.

The jury reached the verdict on the second day of deliberations in the trial of Derrick Smith, a Chicago Democrat, who was charged following an FBI undercover investigation that caught him talking about the payoff on tape.

He also was found guilty of attempted extortion, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Chicago said.

Smith, 50, was expelled by the Illinois House in 2012 after he was charged with taking the bribe. He won his seat back the same year, but lost the Democratic primary in March despite the backing of powerful state House Speaker Michael Madigan.

After the verdict, Smith told reporters he represented his constituents "to the best of my ability."

"I did what I thought was right ..." he said. "I was working for the people."

Chicago ranked first in the nation in public corruption over the past three decades and has had 1,531 public corruption convictions since 1976, according to a 2012 University of Illinois at Chicago analysis of U.S. Department of Justice statistics.

Under state law, Smith loses his seat in the legislature with his bribery conviction.

He faces up to 10 years in prison on the bribery count.

(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Eric Beech)

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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