DIRKSEN FEDERAL COURTHOUSE — He called himself "The Hog With the Big Nuts" for his clout in local government, but William Beavers met his match Thursday when federal prosecutors won a guilty verdict against him.
After less than two hours of deliberation, a jury convicted the colorful and outspoken Cook County commissioner of tax evasion — a case Beavers claimed stemmed from a grudge the federal government had against him for refusing to wear a wire on fellow Commissioner John Daley, the former mayor's younger brother.
Beavers, visibly shaken in court as the guilty verdict was read, was back to his brazen self by the time he reached the throng of reporters waiting in the lobby of the Dirksen Federal Building.
"It ain't political corruption. Don't give me that political corruption stuff," Beavers said after the verdict was announced. "This was a case of man against the United States government. It wasn't about me. It was about a whole lotta people that don't have to kiss the government's ass to get along with them. ... They thought I was a punk."
Beavers was charged with not reporting hundreds of thousands of dollars as income. The federal government alleged Beavers siphoned money from his campaign funds for personal use, including covering massive casino gambling losses, and then failed to pay taxes on the money.
The guilty verdict means he could be sentenced to up to three years on each of the four counts and be fined up to $250,000.
His defense team made the case that the checks Beavers wrote himself from his campaign coffers were loans and that he repaid more than 80 percent.
Sam Adam Jr., lead defense attorney, shouldered the blame for a failed defense strategy and pledged to fight the verdict in appeals.
"I didn't sell it hard enough," he said
Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney's Office quoted Adam's opening statement to sum up their victory and brushed off accusations that Beavers was targeted because he refused to cooperate with federal investigators.
"As Sam Adam Jr. said, this was a very simple case. Either they were loans or they weren't," said Matt Getter. The jury "completely believed our evidence."
Beavers, a former police officer and 7th Ward alderman, vowed to take the stand in his defense, but opted not to. He claimed the charges against him were orchestrated so he would turn over on John Daley. Daley has not been implicated in any crimes.
He decried the feds' "Gestapo tactics," and accused former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald of causing the suicides of other politicians investigated before him, including former Chicago School Board President Michael Scott and former Rod Blagojevich insider Chris Kelly.
Beavers was charged in February 2012 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 against Daley, chairman of the county's 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 Fitzgerald, to "kiss where the sun don't shine" in response to requests to wear a wire.