Tuesday, August 25, 2009

FBI wiretap leads to Sen. Jeff Smith's guilty plea

It may have been Milton "Skip" Ohlsen who steered the FBI in the direction of Sen. Jeff Smith, D-St. Louis, but it was Smith who ended up giving the feds the information that led to his guilty plea today in federal court to two conspiracy to obstruct justice charges.

Smith, not realizing his conversation was being monitored by an FBI wiretap June 1 confirmed his connection to an unsuccessful backdoor attempt to derail Russ Carnahan's successful primary bid for the House seat being vacated by Richard Gephardt.

"Did I know (Milton Ohlsen) was going to do something/" Smith told his co-conspirator, Rep. Steve Brown during the telephone conversation. "Yeah, I mean I thought he was going to do something. If I didn't think he was going to do something, hen I would have said to Artie (Harris) and Nick (Adams) don't waste your time talking to that guy."

During that conversation, which was included in documents filed today in U. S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, Smith acknowledged he knew Brown had paid Ohlsen money for the illegal mailing:

"I vividly remember somebody being like well (Ohlsen) wants to do this, and I was like, well, f------ let him do it, sweet. And they're like, well, he's going to need the money to do it, he'll need to get it from your donors, and I said, like hopefully, my donors will give it to him."

The court documents indicate another conversation between Smith and Brown, this one face to face was also monitored. During that conversation, Smith talked about what evidence the FBI had against him "I don't think he (Ohlsen) taped any phone conversations with me. I mean, I pray he didn't. I may have had a phone conversation with him where I acknowledged what he was doing."

Smith then admitted he was fully aware of what Ohlsen was doing. "I'm assuming that I broke the law by having knowledge of what (Ohlsen) was going to do. I don't know how they could prova that."

Smith then told Brown to lie to investigators. "Don't do anything stupid," he said. "Stupid would be telling them that things that are happening in your brain."

Smith said when he was interviewed he would be "Ninety percent honest."

Smith's sentencing is scheduled for 10 a.m. Nov. 17, two weeks after his successor will be chosen in a special election.

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