Chicago politician Bill Beavers charged with tax fraud

February 24, 2012

Robert Wildeboer and Tony Arnold

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(AP/file)
Cook County Commissioner and former Chicago Ald. Bill Beavers is facing federal criminal charges.

Cook County Commissioner and former Chicago Ald. Bill Beavers is facing federal criminal charges.

The 77-year-old Beavers was an alderman from 1983 to 2006, when he then became a Cook County commissioner.

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said Beavers paid himself $225,000 from his campaign funds, and then failed to report some of that income on his tax returns.

"Obviously as we head into tax season we're trying to increase vigilance about taxes and it's particularly important that public officials, if they use campaign funds for personal reasons, they owe taxes like everybody else and they have an obligation to declare their income on their tax returns accurately and that's what's alleged, he knowingly failed to do in this case," Fitzgerald told reporters Thursday.

Fitzgerald also said Beavers put $69,000 of campaign money into his retirement account and didn't report that as income, either. Fitzgerald said Beavers intentionally caused his employees to file false campaign fund disclosures to cover his tracks.

Meanwhile, some Cook County commissioners are reacting harshly against Beavers.

Beavers has ranked high in the Cook County Democratic Party and he helped get Todd Stroger elected Cook County Board President. But Commissioner Larry Suffredin said Beavers has been losing power since joining the Cook County Board in 2006.

"I think his time has passed as a - for political leadership," Suffredin said.

To be fair, Suffredin has had his quarrels with Beavers.

"He has referred to me as someone who is an idiot and a misfit," Suffredin said.

Meanwhile, Beavers reportedly claims he was indicted because he wouldn't wear a wire against the powerful Finance Committee Chairman John Daley. Both Suffredin and Daley said it's well known Beavers and Daley don't get along and it doesn't make sense that prosecutors would think Beavers could get any dirt on Daley.