CHICAGO (CBS) — Cook County Commissioner William Beavers will be arraigned Friday on tax evasion charges for allegedly failing to report and pay taxes on income he earned by using campaign funds and county expense accounts for personal use.
Beavers, 77, was indicted last week on three counts of filing false federal income tax returns and one count of corruptly endeavoring to obstruct and impede the IRS in an indictment returned on Thursday.
His arraignment has been scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday before U.S. District Judge James Zagel. Coincidentally, Beavers has hired high-profile attorneys Sam Adam Sr. and Sam Adam Jr., who represented former Gov. Rod Blagojevich during his first corruption trial before Zagel. The Adams frequently sparred with Zagel over their courtroom tactics and left Blagojevich’s defense team before the retrial that ended in his conviction on 17 corruption charges.
Beavers’ arraignment will come two days after his first public meeting — a County Board Finance Committee meeting on Wednesday — after he was indicted.
Beavers — a former Chicago police officer, former Chicago alderman and current County Board member — has denied the charges and said he was targeted by the feds because he refused a request by federal prosecutors to wear a wire on fellow Cook County Commissioner John Daley.
“They came to me, they told me ‘We don’t want you, we want John Daley. We want you to wear a wire.’ I said ‘I’m too old to wear a wire. I’m too old to be a stool pigeon,’” Beavers said after he was indicted last Thursday. He said he told federal investigators, “I don’t know what you want him for. If you want him, go get him yourself.”
Daley has denied that he’s being investigated by the feds and said he didn’t know why Beavers would drag him into the case.
“I have no idea, no. Bill Beavers and I – from day one, it’s apparent if you attended the board meetings – do not get along,” Daley said. “This indictment speaks for itself. It’s about Bill Beavers and only Bill Beavers. … The word ‘corrupt’ summarizes the indictment up.”
Federal prosecutors have declined to discuss Beavers’ claims. The indictment alleges Beavers repeatedly used campaign funds and his county expense account for personal gain between 2006 and 2008 and did not report the money on his personal income taxes.
According to federal prosecutors, Beavers paid himself more than $225,000 from three campaign accounts between 2006 and 2008, to use for personal reasons, including gambling.
The indictment alleges that, starting in January 2006, Beavers began writing himself checks from his campaign fund to use for personal purposes, including gambling. In all, he wrote approximately 100 checks to himself — $96,000 worth in 2006; $69,300 worth in 2007; and $61,000 worth in 2008. He also allegedly used his campaign workers to prepare false campaign finance reports to falsify records about those checks to himself and disguise them as legitimate campaign expenditures.
Beavers allegedly used one of those checks — for $68,763.07 — to boost his city pension fund in order to get a larger annuity when he retired from the City Council.
Prosecutors also claim, after he became a county commissioner, Beavers used his $1,200 monthly county expense account for personal reasons, without reporting any of the money as income on his federal income tax returns.
Each of the four charges Beavers faces carries up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine, plus restitution. No court appearances have yet been scheduled for Beavers.