CHICAGO — Political heavyweight William Beavers — well-known for speaking his mind — let someone else do the talking Thursday morning when the tax evasion case against him got under way at the Dirksen Federal Building.
Beavers, a former Chicago police officer, alderman and current member of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, sat quietly all morning as prosecutors and defense attorneys in the case argued before the jury about whether Beavers was a tax cheater or devoted public servant.
Beaver has vehemently denied any wrongdoing and openly accused the U.S. District Attorney's Office of targeting him for refusing to wear a wire.
With his signature zeal, defense attorney Sam Adam Jr. paced around the courtroom, yelling while pointing his finger and declaring his client "the best darn commissioner he could be.
"They still owe him money," Adam said, while gesturing toward an IRS official seated with the prosecutors.
Prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney's Office laid out their case, claiming the "seasoned politician" routinely wrote himself checks from three different campaign funds, spending about $125,000 on "personal use" without reporting the income on his taxes.
In his opening statement, Assistant U.S. Attorney Samuel Cole said Beavers was a tax cheater who frequented the Horseshoe Casino and blew "a lot of money gambling."
When his turn came, Adam told jurors about Beaver's humble roots — how he watched his father come home with swollen hands from hard work at the steel mill, and the race wars he endured while he was an alderman in the early 1980s.
"When this city was going crazy in 1983, there was Ald. Beavers," Adam said. "[He] worked like a dog, fighting for what he believed was right."
The trial is expected to last about a week, and testimony from witnesses began Thursday afternoon.