CHICAGO — Cook County Commissioner Williams Beavers' federal corruption trial begins Monday with jury selection.
The case will pit the self-proclaimed "hog with the big nuts" and his equally brash attorney against a U.S. Attorney's Office with a strong record of corruption convictions before a no-nonsense judge.
The former Chicago cop and alderman from the South Side was charged in February with one count of obstructing an Internal Revenue Service investigation and three counts of filing false tax returns. The government accused him of using all three political funds he had jurisdiction over to pay himself $225,000 for his personal use, including investing $68,000 in a account to boost his city pension. The indictment said he did not report the money as income.
Beavers instantly rejected the allegations, saying the loans were fully repaid and that he had amended his tax returns. He said he was being singled out for prosecution because he refused to cooperate in an investigation of Cook County Commissioner John Daley, chairman of the Finance Committee. "I'm too old to be a stool pigeon," Beavers said.
Daley dismissed any suggestion he was the target of a federal investigation and said it was Beavers' attempt to shift the focus away from the federal charges.
Beavers later said he told federal investigators, including U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, to "kiss where the sun don't shine" in response to requests to wear a wire.
Beavers is an unapologetic old-school politician who has frequently defended patronage, and he once boasted to reporters he was "the hog with the big nuts."
He'll be defended by Sam Adam Jr. in front of Judge James Zagel. With his flamboyant, theatrical style developed in the Cook County criminal courts at 26th and California, Adam tangled with the dry and frequently sarcastic Zagel when defending Rod Blagojevich in his first trial in 2010.
In pretrial motions last week, Zagel ruled that Adam could not make reference in his opening statement to Beavers' charges about being asked to wear a wire. Zagel said they could argue Beavers repaid the money and amended his tax returns, but only as testimony if he took the stand in his own defense.
The trial begins Monday at the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse downtown with jury selection. According to Adam, prosecutors expect the trial to take two weeks.
Adam has been mentioned as a potential candidate in the special election to replace Jesse Jackson Jr. in Congress, and he said he'll make a decision on running after Beavers' trial.