IRS agent strikes at heart of Beavers' tax fraud defense

March 19, 2013

An IRS agent testifying in William Beavers’ federal tax evasion trial Tuesday said he couldn’t find a single scrap of paper showing Beavers ever intended to repay nearly $300,000 he took from his campaign accounts, even though defense lawyers for the Cook County commissioner maintain he loaned himself the money and shouldn’t have to pay taxes on it.

During his second day of testimony, IRS Agent Paul Ponzo said Beavers penned 101 campaign checks between 2006 and 2008, and wrote more than $128,000 worth of the checks to himself.

But after poring over campaign finance records, check stubs, tax returns and a rubberband-bound manila folder packed with receipts, Ponzo testified he couldn’t find a single document to bolster Beavers’ claim that he took out the money in the form of loans, and intended to pay it back at some point.

He also said the Beavers campaign’s bookkeeping still couldn’t account for $30,000 claimed by the commissioner.

For a second day, jurors sat through hours of dry, line-by-line tax testimony, salted with allusions to the $500,000-a-year gambling habit that prosecutors point to as a main motive in his alleged scheme to avoid income taxes.

The government has also lifted the veil on how Beavers’ allegedly cover his tracks. Prosecutors displayed some campaign checks that were cashed minutes before Beavers played the slots at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Ind. But Beavers’ internal campaign records showed the checks as being “void,” or attributed them to campaign-related expenses incurred months later.

The government could wrap up its case Tuesday afternoon. Beavers has repeatedly vowed to take the witness stand when the defense begins to make its case.

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