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Three members of new Illinois legislature facing criminal charges

February 5th, 2013 at 11:29 am

Three members of new Illinois legislatureMembers of Illinois’s newest General Assembly recently took the oath of office. As the state still struggles to rebuild its reputation as two consecutive governors went to prison, Illinois set another precedent of sorts; three sitting lawmakers are currently facing criminal charges.

Most recently in headline news about politics and crime in its highest office, former governor Rod Blagojevich was convicted for attempting to sell Barack Obama’s former U.S. Senate seat. Comparable circumstances cannot be recalled by experts or capitol veterans since the early 1970s, when several were rounded up for a bribery trial relating to cement trucks.

The allegations against each of the three lawmakers vary greatly from bribery, to bank fraud to trying to bring a gun onto a plane. Experts say, however, that although the charges differ, the accumulation and timing is very damaging to the state as it is already struggling to combat some of the most serious financial problems in its entire history.

The similarities of the three legislators, Rep. Derrick Smith, Rep. La Shawn Ford and Sen. Donne Trotter, end after the obvious facts of them all being Chicago Democrats who were all recently sworn into office.

Only one of these cases involves political corruption, unlike Blagojevich and former Gov. George Ryan, who were both accused of abusing their powers.

Smith was expelled from office in August on bribery charges, the first expulsion of that kind in over a century. Voters put Smith back in office in November, however. He pleaded not guilty to accepting a bribe in exchange for supporting what he had though was a day care center’s grant application.

According to state law, Smith cannot be expelled again for the same charges.

Smith has not made a public appearance since the charges, but did briefly say to reporters that being cleared of charges gives him the opportunity to “continue on doing what I was set out to do, work with my constituents.”

Each of the other two cases do not involve public office.

Ford is being faced with bank fraud charges. Allegedly, he made false statements to a bank so that he could get an increase on a line of credit. He claimed that he would use the money to fix investment properties, however, he used to funds for expenses including car loans and his 2006 campaign. Last month he pleaded not guilty, saying the incident was a mistake.

Veteran lawmaker Trotter was arrested in an airport after security workers found a gun in his bag. He pleaded not guilty as well after claiming that he simply had forgotten that the gun was in his bag.

Criminal records never look good on anyone, especially those in public office. If you are charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal attorney for assistance to fight it. Criminal attorney Chris Cosley in Rolling Meadows, Illinois can help you fight for yourself today.

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