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Beavers Holds Legal Fundraiser

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Cook County Commissioner William Beavers arrives at court for his arraignment on federal tax charges on March 2, 2012. (CBS)

Cook County Commissioner William Beavers arrives at court for his arraignment on federal tax charges on March 2, 2012. (CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — One of the latest Chicago politicians in legal hot water hosted a fundraiser Monday night to raise money for his criminal defense.

Cook County Commissioner William Beavers (D-4th) hosted the $125-per-person fundraiser.

The event to raise cash for Beavers’ mounting legal expenses was something of a hush-hush affair, CBS 2’s Mike Parker reports.

News cameras and reporters were not allowed inside the Crystal Gardens area or even inside Navy Pier. But CBS 2 saw some 40 friends, pastors and constituents who paid $125 a plate.

Beavers avoided reporters Monday, buy his legal team, including defense attorney Sam Adam, Jr., was there.

“We’re looking forward to going into court and showing that not only did he pay his taxes, he paid them on time. And if there was a mistake, it would be an accounting error,” Adam said.

Those who attended the Navy Pier event were long time supporters. Beavers’ friend Lorenzo Chew said Beavers is getting a raw deal.

“I was his partner 40 years ago on the police department. He was one of the most honest characters,” Chew said.

Beavers is charged with three counts of filing false federal income tax returns, and one count of corruptly endeavoring to obstruct and impede the Internal Revenue Service.

The indictment unsealed in February alleges Beavers used campaign funds and his county expense account for personal gain and did not report the money on his personal income taxes.

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 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.

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 pleaded not guilty to the charges in early March and called U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald “worse than J. Edgar Hoover.”

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.

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