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Judge: Beavers Can’t Tell Jury He Refused Request To Wear A Wire

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) – A federal judge said Thursday that Cook County Commissioner William Beavers can’t tell the jury at his upcoming tax evasion trial that he shot down a request from federal prosecutors to wear a wire as part of an investigation of another prominent Chicago politician.

Beavers’ trial on tax fraud charges begins on Monday. At a status hearing on Thursday, U.S. District Judge James Zagel denied Beavers’ request to tell jurors he refused a request to wear a wire for federal prosecutors.

Beavers has said he was targeted by the feds because he refused to wear a wire while talking to fellow Cook County Commissioner John Daley and former Board President Todd Stroger. He’s said he told the feds to “kiss where the sun don’t shine” when they asked him to wear a wire on Daley.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Nancy Harty Reports

Zagel said Beavers’ alleged refusal to cooperate with federal prosecutors is not proof of either guilt or innocence, and is not relevant to the tax charges against Beavers.

WBBM Newsradio’s Nancy Harty reports defense attorneys also have sought to have the case thrown out, due to what they called “vindictive prosecution” after Beavers refused to cooperate.

“Mr. Beavers told them he did not want to cooperate – maybe not in those words – but he told them that, and the next thing you know he gets indicted,” defense attorney Aaron Goldstein said.

The judge said he’ll consider that motion later.

Goldstein said federal prosecutors have denied until recently that they reached out to Beavers.

“This is the first time they’ve acknowledged it to us,” Goldstein said.

Beavers is accused of borrowing more than $225,000 from his campaign funds to use on personal expenses, and failing to report the money as income. He also allegedly used his campaign workers to prepare false campaign finance reports to falsify records about those checks and disguise them as legitimate campaign expenditures.

Defense attorneys are still awaiting Zagel’s ruling on whether they can tell jurors Beavers paid back some of the thousands of dollars in campaign funds he borrowed. Beavers’ attorneys have said there’s evidence accounting for all the money he allegedly misused, but federal prosecutors say Beavers only paid the money back after he became aware of the federal investigation, and that it’s irrelevant to the alleged crime.