William Beavers indicted on federal tax charges

February 23, 2012 5:26:32 PM PST
Veteran Chicago politician and current Cook County Commissioner William Beavers was named in federal grand jury indictments Thursday afternoon for allegedly pocketing campaign funds for gambling and other personal spending. Beavers was involved in numerous schemes dating back to at least 2006, say federal investigators.

Beavers, a former Chicago alderman, is charged with obstructing the Internal Revenue Service and failing to report, and pay taxes on, all of his income. According to the indictment, 77-year-old Beavers hid his underreporting of income and underpayment of taxes on thousands of dollars that he converted from campaign accounts to his personal use.

The charges lay out more than $68,000 in personal gain on one occasion that was not reported -- as well as from his county discretionary spending account. Between 2006 and 2008, Beavers allegedly paid himself more than $225,000 from three separate campaign accounts and used at least a portion of those funds for personal purposes, including gambling according to federal authorities.

"On one particular occasion it is alleged that the amount in excess of $68,000 was taken from a campaign fund and used to contribute to his pension fund without being declared," said U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. "It is also alleged that he took money from his Cook County expense account and did not report it on tax returns."

"I'm not concerned about the indictment," Beavers told ABC7 Thursday. "I can show I didn't take any money. Didn't steal any money. I don't owe any money. OK."

Beavers said the feds went after him because he refused to wear a wire and secretly record fellow commissioner John Daley, the brother of former Mayor Richard M. Daley.

"They came to me and wanted me to be a stool pigeon for John Daley. OK. They walked right in that hallway and said we don't want you, we want John Daley," Beavers said. "I said, well, I'm too old to be a stool pigeon. I'm not going to wear a wire. And I don't know what you want him for. If you want him, you go get him yourself."

Beavers said he told John Daley about that encounter and that Daley laughed.

Daley was not laughing Thursday, saying it's clear to anyone who's attended county board meetings that he and Beavers are not good buddies.

"I'm not being investigated," said Commissioner Daley. "This is about Bill Beavers. He was indicted today and that's the story you should have about Bill Beavers, not John Daley."

The U.S. Attorney says the case is about Beavers' non-payment of taxes, and beyond the indictment, he's not commenting.

"It is unfair to read into my non-comment anything," said Fitzgerald. "If you ask me whether or not he was indicted because he failed to wear a wire, I say the same thing. We don't comment on people not charged and we indicted him because he alleged he committed a tax crime and intend to prove that."

Mr. Beavers was elected to the Cook County Board of Commissioners in November 2006. He previously served as the 7th Ward alderman on Chicago's City Council from 1983 until November 2006.

As fixture on Chicago's political landscape, Beavers is known for his deep-planted voice and flowery rhetoric. He will be arraigned at a future date and no court appearance has been scheduled.

"I'm 77 years old. I've been in this game 50 years. Nothing scares me, OK?" said Beavers.