Indicted Cook County Commissioner Beavers hosts legal defense fundraiser

April 9, 2012 6:41:20 PM PDT
Cook County Commissioner William Beavers is defending himself as he prepares to fight federal tax fraud charges. A fundraiser for Beavers was held Monday night at Navy Pier. Money raised will go to Beavers' legal defense fund.

Beavers was indicted in February. Prosecutors say he pocketed campaign funds and a county stipend without paying federal taxes. He vehemently denies the charges and had some harsh words Monday for U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.

Beavers continues to insist he is innocent of any criminal wrongdoing. But Monday, for the first time, he spoke about possible bookkeeping problems that could become the basis of his legal defense.

"I gotta hire the best accountant to show that these idiots didn't know how to count," Beavers said.

In an interview Monday outside his South Side office, the 4th District county commissioner told ABC 7 there may have been questionable transfers of money between his campaign and personal accounts, but nothing that constituted tax evasion.

"Every dime that I could take and spend on myself, the taxes was paid on," said Beavers. "It's not a question of money missing. It's a question of maybe some bad bookkeeping, you understand? But there ain't no money missing."

The government alleges the 77-year-old Democrat did not pay federal income tax on over $200,000 taken from his campaign fund and used for personal expenses including bets at casinos.

Beavers says he is being prosecuted because in 2009 he refused U.S. Attorney Fitzgerald's request that Beavers work undercover as an FBI informant. He suggested Monday there are independent witnesses who will back up his claim.

"Two years ago, I told people that they came to me and wanted me to be a stool pigeon," Beavers said.

On the website, Monday night's $125 per person fundraiser is advertised as happening at the Navy Pier McDonald's restaurant. Monday afternoon, it was suddenly moved to the pier's more private Crystal Garden.

Commissioner Beavers says the fact his donors give to a legal defense fund is another layer of protection for them.

"I don't have to identify the people, I don't have to say nothing, I don't have to report this, I don't have to report that," said Beavers. "It's a legal fund. It's for my legal fees."

Earlier Monday, several other politicians who wished to remain anonymous said they support Commissioner Beavers, but would not do so publicly fearing they might raise the ire of the U.S. attorney's office.