Gambling at center of feds' case against Cook County Commissioner William Beavers

November 30, 2012 (CHICAGO)

In this Intelligence Report: Beavers' gambling habits will be on public display during the trial.

The federal investigation of William Beavers began more than 3 1/2 years ago. It was in 2009 that the FBI agents notified Beavers they were looking at his use of campaign funds to gamble. That very next week the former Chicago alderman and current county commissioner amended his personal tax returns and declared the winnings.

But like the odds on the slot machines that Beavers says he favors, changing his tax forms could end up a losing proposition.

Friday in federal court, Judge James Zagel decided that evidence of Commissioner Beavers' gambling habits at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond will be allowed at trial that begins next week.

Beavers' attorney Sheldon Sorosky, who most recently represented corrupt governor rod Blagojevich, wanted gambling testimony excluded from trial, especially evidence of the sizable campaign funds that Beavers lost.

"William Beavers is good man, he's an honest man," said Sorosky. "He's not a paper man in the sense that he may have made some mistakes in some of these filings, but he certainly did not have any intent to commit any crime or evade any taxes or do anything wrong."

Beavers is charged with taking $225,000 from his campaign account, spending it on himself, and not declaring it as income on his taxes as required by law.

Even though the FBI began investigating Beavers in 2009, he was indicted last february.

"To quote Judge Zagel, this is an income tax case, and in an income tax case, the critical issue is, Did this man intentionally try to avoid taxes or did he make some mistakes without criminal intent?" said Sorosky. "And there isn't any doubt that Mr. Beavers is innocent. He made some mistakes and how he might have spent his money really doesn't make much difference."

The question isn't whether Beavers used campaign funds for gambling or gardening-- he's charged with not declaring the money on his taxes.

Judge Zagel has warned prosecutors not to present Beavers gambling in a negative light.

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