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CHICAGO (CBS) — The Cook County Board on Thursday is holding its first meeting since Commissioner William Beavers (D-4th) was indicted by federal authorities on tax fraud charges.
Beavers, 77, was charged last week with three counts of filing false federal income tax returns, and one count of corruptly endeavoring to obstruct and impede the Internal Revenue Service.
Soon after the indictment was unsealed, Beavers claimed that the reason he was indicted was because he refused a request by prosecutors to wear a wire against fellow county Commissioner John Daley (D-11th).
Beavers and Daley had a brief exchange at a County Board Finance Committee meeting on Wednesday, in which they suggested that reporters at the meeting were trying to stoke the fires, and were hoping they would get into an argument.
“They think we’re going to fight,” Beavers said.
“I know,” Daley said. “We’re going to pop.”
Beavers claimed federal investigators told him they were after 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 told CBS 2′s Kristyn Hartman in an interview at his home last week. He said he told federal investigators, “I don’t know what you want him for. If you want him, go get him yourself.”
Beavers said the week after the feds approached him, he got a letter informing him he was being investigated on charges. But Daley 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 last week. “This indictment speaks for itself. It’s about Bill Beavers and only Bill Beavers. … The word ‘corrupt’ summarizes the indictment up.”
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.
Beavers, an old-school politician and proponent of patronage hiring, has described himself as “the Hog with the Big Nuts.” Representing the South Side’s 7th Ward in the City Council from 1983 to 2006, he long served as powerful chairman of the City Council Budget Committee under former Mayor Richard M. Daley, exerting a great deal of control over the city’s purse strings.
Beavers resigned from the City Council when he was elected to the County Board in 2006. He served as a mentor to then-new Cook County Board President Todd Stroger, after Stroger’s father, the late John Stroger, had to leave office after winning the 2006 Democratic primary due to a massive stroke.
A political deal that year gave the Democratic nomination for the board presidency that year to Todd Stroger, while Beavers was placed on the ballot for the 4th District County Board seat, which John Stroger had also held while board president.
Beavers has been known for colorful remarks throughout his career.
When Cook County Clerk David Orr claimed that Beavers might have been understating the severity of John Stroger’s medical condition to keep independent candidates out of the 2006 race for County Board president, Beavers famously responded by calling Orr a “little poop butt.”
“F**k him,” Beavers was quoted in the Chicago Sun-Times, adding that he doesn’t “give a f**k” about the federal prosecutor and that he has done nothing wrong and will not step down.