Former New Jersey Assemblyman L. Harvey Smith says he will use the entrapment defense in his upcoming trial, stemming from his arrest last year on corruption charges. Smith was one of 44 people nabbed in massive federal corruption probe in July 2009, called Operation Big Rig, a joint operation of the FBI, IRS and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Smith was charged with accepting $15,000 in cash from government informer Solomon Dwek, posing undercover as a developer seeking help getting building permits for a condo development. The politician met with Dwek on three occasions before the exchange of cash. Yesterday, Smith’s lawyer notified the Judge in the case that he will argue that Smith’s dealings with the FBI informant amounted to entrapment.
After his arrest, Smith refused to step down from his seat in the Assembly stating that “I believe that the resignation of my position as assemblyman is inconsistent with the presumption of innocence.” Smith did not seek reelection last year and left office in January. Smith was one time mayor of Jersey City and president of its city council.
Smith was charged with conspiracy to commit extortion, receiving corrupt cash payments and money laundering.