WBEZ | William Beavers http://www.wbez.org/tags/william-beavers Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Judge refuses to toss Democrat's tax convictions http://www.wbez.org/news/judge-refuses-toss-democrats-tax-convictions-107857 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/beavers_1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A federal judge in Chicago has refused to toss a former Cook County commissioner&#39;s tax-evasion convictions on grounds his jury had no African-American males.</p><p>The ruling came at a post-trial hearing Wednesday for once-powerful Democrat Williams Beavers.</p><p>Beavers is black and had argued that the jury selection was fundamentally flawed.</p><p>A jury of 10 whites, one Hispanic and one African-American female convicted Beavers early this year of using campaign money to gamble without reporting it as income.</p><p>Judge James Zagel took issue with the defense&#39;s emphasis on an absence of African-American jurors. He said there&#39;s an &quot;African-American&quot; category under rules meant to promote racially balanced juries but no &quot;African-American males&quot; category.</p><p>Zagel set sentencing for Sept. 25. Beavers faces a maximum three-year prison term on each of four tax-evasion counts.</p></p> Wed, 26 Jun 2013 11:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/judge-refuses-toss-democrats-tax-convictions-107857 William Beavers argues jury selection fundamentally flawed http://www.wbez.org/news/william-beavers-argues-jury-selection-fundamentally-flawed-107053 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/beavers_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A Chicago Democrat is asking a judge to toss his tax-evasion conviction, arguing that the selection of jurors in the district is fundamentally flawed and resulted in no black men on his jury.</p><p>William Beavers&#39; attorneys made that argument in a motion filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago.</p><p>Jurors convicted the 78-year-old Cook County commissioner earlier this year for not declaring campaign cash he used to gamble as income.</p><p>Beavers is black. His lawyers say a jury of his peers should have included at least a few African-American males. There was one African-American female juror.</p><p>The 26-page motion filed late Monday says the district&#39;s practice of drawing jury pools randomly from voter registration lists is more likely to exclude African-Americans.</p><p>It claims older whites are overrepresented on the lists.</p></p> Tue, 07 May 2013 11:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/william-beavers-argues-jury-selection-fundamentally-flawed-107053 School closings? Beavers conviction? The results of our corrupt system http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2013-03/school-closings-beavers-conviction-results-our-corrupt-system-106222 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS760_114218744-scr.jpg" style="height: 261px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Mayor Emanuel presides without checks and balances over Chicago. (AP)" />Fifty-four school closings! How did we ever get in this mess?</div><p><br />Er, ahem, shall we do some math?<br /><br />Let&rsquo;s start with recent headlines. First, &ldquo;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-proposes-closing-53-elementary-schools-firing-staff-another-6-106202">Chicago Proposes Closing 54 Schools</a>&rdquo; plus &ldquo;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/jury-convicts-william-beavers-tax-evasion-106207">Jury Convicts William Beavers of Tax Evasion</a>.&rdquo;<br /><br />What does this equal?<br /><br />At a quick glance, the two stories may not share much except their sensational nature. But the closings of 54 schools and the conviction of the Cook County politician are the results of a long, enmeshed system that gives the mayor unprecedented power and breeds corruption, both big and small.<br /><br />The first story goes to a shock treatment to a school system that is in a deep, deep crisis after years of mismanagement, corruption and politicking by city government.</p><p>Remember how in 1988 the late Mayor Harold Washington helped pass the Chicago School Reform Act down in Springfield, which created Local School Councils and gave them unprecedented power to manage neighborhood schools? It was a new dawn, yes. And then a year later, Mayor Richard M. Daley got elected and began the push to strip the LSCs of virtually all say, finally accomplished in 1995 when the state made the mayor of Chicago the undisputed -- and I do mean <em>undisputed</em>, since the mayor appoints the board where the only possible pushback could come from -- czar of the Chicago Public Schools. The charter school craze in Chicago began just about then, and school closings became a part of every discussion about education reform.<br /><br />What does Beavers have to do with this? After all, he was on the City Council back then, a self-described &ldquo;master of the backroom deal&rdquo; and unabashed crony in our fair city&rsquo;s long history of crony corruption, and then on the county Board of Commissioners, neither of which has much say about schools.</p><p>But Beavers, who had a brief moment of progressive politics when, as a black politician, he rode the wave of Washington&rsquo;s historic 1983 election and simply could not oppose the mayor without risking his political life, quickly fell in line under Daley. The man never saw a screw-the-citizen deal he couldn&rsquo;t vote yes for, including parking meters and pension giveaways, private contracts to mayoral pals, etc., etc., etc.<br /><br />Still don&rsquo;t follow the math? Okay, add in his recent headline: &ldquo;<a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/cityhall/18993800-418/city-of-chicago-hit-with-578-million-tab-in-parking-garage-snafu.html">City of Chicago hit with $57.8 Million Tab in Parking Garage Snafu</a>.&rdquo; It seems the city signed a 99 year-long $563 million dollar contract with a private company for parking services, promising them no competition, then turned around and gave a contract to some competitors just a few blocks away.<br /><br />Beavers was around then, nodding in Daley&rsquo;s direction like one of those little dashboard dogs, and giving pieces of the city away as part of the mayor&rsquo;s largesse towards his friends.<br /><br />Oh, I know, he wasn&rsquo;t alone. What is about Chicago that we keep electing strongmen as mayors, then fill an overstuffed, overblown, worthless City Council with lackeys that give that Caudillo lopsided votes guaranteeing they get everything they want in exchange for a few crumbs?</p><p>Let&rsquo;s be frank, with the single exception of Edward Burke, the 14th Ward Suzerain, the rewards to those who facilitate the mayor&rsquo;s grandiose giveaways are relatively minor. Especially in black wards, they mostly survive to vote again, to run again, to buy a steak dinner and impress neighbors and distant cousins.<br /><br />How bad is it? Over at <em>Chicago Magazine</em>, Steve Rhodes put together a little study that details <a href="http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/April-2013/The-Yes-Men-Near-Unanimous-Consent/">City Council votes</a> since Mayor Rahm Emanuel got elected. Wanna get depressed? A full third of the City Council has never voted against Emanuel, <em>ever</em> (and this is a improvement over the Council&rsquo;s bending over for Daley). In 26 meetings, our representatives have given the mayor 1,333 yes votes and only 122 nos (about half of those come from the same five aldermen and -- get this -- the only minority alderman who occasionally votes against the mayor is Leslie Hairston, from Hyde Park, where her political life depends on not being the mayor&rsquo;s total lap dog).<br /><br />In other words, the mayor presides over a City Council that&rsquo;s bought and sold. He appoints the members to the school board which is the only check and balance on his power over the city&rsquo;s schools.<br /><br />Checks and balances? <em>Please.</em> Look at this headline: &ldquo;<a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/cityhall/19012878-418/state-supreme-court-rules-city-ig-cant-subpoena-chicago-documents.html">State Supreme Court Rules City IG Can&rsquo;t Subpoena Chicago Documents</a>.&rdquo; It turns out the city&rsquo;s Inspector General needs the mayor&rsquo;s approval to investigate anything having to do with the mayor&rsquo;s office. Does that make sense to anyone? The court&#39;s vote was unanimous. Let&rsquo;s not even bother to get into who&rsquo;s on the court, or their paths there.<br /><br />Yes, I know that much of what Emanuel is hammering through right now -- whether it&rsquo;s the school closings or the multiple million dollar settlements or dealing with the very bad deals the city has to contend with -- isn&rsquo;t his doing. I get that it&rsquo;s an inheritance.<br /><br />But here&rsquo;s the other thing I get: Unless this very corrupt and insular system itself changes -- and that starts with whom we, as citizens, elect to lower offices such as the City Council -- nothing else will change. Emanuel and Daley are of the same royally-entitled bloodline.</p><p>And Beavers? He&rsquo;s just one of thousands of bastard children willing to do anything for the royals&#39; approval.<br /><br />Add that up and it&rsquo;s pretty ugly.</p></p> Fri, 22 Mar 2013 11:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2013-03/school-closings-beavers-conviction-results-our-corrupt-system-106222 Beavers refuses to take stand at tax-evasion trial http://www.wbez.org/news/beavers-refuses-take-stand-tax-evasion-trial-106188 <p><p>Despite vowing for months that he would speak directly to jurors, an influential Cook County commissioner told a federal judge on Wednesday he would not be taking the stand at his tax-evasion trial.</p><p>A calm but somber William Beavers walked to a courtroom podium, adjusted his suit coat and looked up at U.S. District Judge James Zagel, who asked if it was the Chicago Democrat&#39;s decision not to testify.</p><p>&quot;That&#39;s a decision I made your honor,&quot; Beavers responded in his deep, booming voice.</p><p>The 78-year-old Beavers indicated several times that he had difficulty hearing. At one point, he told the judge, &quot;Can you speak up a little so I can hear you?&quot;<br />Minutes later, the defense rested its casing, having called just two witnesses in lest than a day of testimony.</p><p>Beavers pleaded not guilty to four tax charges, including allegations he failed to report campaign cash he used for gambling as income on his federal tax returns. Each count carries a maximum three-year prison term.</p><p>Closing arguments were set for Thursday morning.</p><p>The one-week tax trial has revolved around otherwise drying accounting issues. But the possibility that tough-talking, rhetorically gifted Beavers could speak in court had attracted wide media attention.</p><p>Zagel ruled before testimony started last week that only Beavers could tell jurors he paid overdue taxes and that any mistakes on his taxes were unintentional. That seemed to increase the chances he would testify.</p><p>And the former Chicago police officer and alderman, who once bragged about his influence by calling himself the &quot;hog with big nuts,&quot; pledged repeatedly in public that he would take the stand.</p><p>&quot;I&#39;ve got to tell what these people are all about,&quot; he told reporters last week, referring to prosecutors. &quot;What they&#39;re really all about is that they tell some tall tales... I gotta straighten them out.&quot;</p><p>But testifying would have involved enormous risks, subjecting Beavers to a blistering and potentially damaging cross-examination by prosecutors.</p><p>Beavers immediately assumed an air of defiance after his 2012 indictment, going as far as accusing the then-U.S. attorney of using &quot;Gestapo-type tactics&quot; to prosecute him.</p></p> Wed, 20 Mar 2013 13:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/beavers-refuses-take-stand-tax-evasion-trial-106188 IRS agent strikes at heart of Beavers' tax fraud defense http://www.wbez.org/news/irs-agent-strikes-heart-beavers-tax-fraud-defense-106160 <p><p>An IRS agent testifying in William Beavers&rsquo; federal tax evasion trial Tuesday said he couldn&rsquo;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&rsquo;t have to pay taxes on it.</p><p>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.</p><p>But after poring over campaign finance records, check stubs, tax returns and a rubberband-bound manila folder packed with receipts, Ponzo testified he couldn&rsquo;t find a single document to bolster Beavers&rsquo; claim that he took out the money in the form of loans, and intended to pay it back at some point.</p><p>He also said the Beavers campaign&rsquo;s bookkeeping still couldn&rsquo;t account for $30,000 claimed by the commissioner.</p><p>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.</p><p>The government has also lifted the veil on how Beavers&rsquo; 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&rsquo; internal campaign records showed the checks as being &ldquo;void,&rdquo; or attributed them to campaign-related expenses incurred months later.</p><p>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.</p></p> Tue, 19 Mar 2013 13:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/irs-agent-strikes-heart-beavers-tax-fraud-defense-106160 Jurors endure hours of tax testimony at Beavers' federal tax trial http://www.wbez.org/news/jurors-endure-hours-tax-testimony-beavers-federal-tax-trial-106142 <p><p>Prosecutors in the federal trial of William Beavers on Monday showed jurors how the Cook County commissioner got hit with a nearly $28,000 tax bill in 2005, then reported no income from his campaign accounts for the three years that followed.</p><p>Beavers&rsquo; tax evasion trial centers on charges he spent $221,000 from his campaign and County Board accounts between 2006 and 2008, but lied on legal documents to cover his tracks and avoid paying taxes on the money.</p><p>Jurors endured hours of dry testimony Monday morning, as prosecutors led Beavers&rsquo; accountant, Philip Achusim, through a line-by-line explanation of four years&rsquo; worth of tax returns and earnings documents. The commissioner himself, dressed in a dark gray suit and crimson tie, sat expressionless.</p><p>But in showing Beavers&rsquo; return from 2005, the government is trying to strike at the heart of the defense&rsquo;s main argument: The commissioner loaned himself the campaign cash and always intended to pay it back.</p><p>The government showed jurors that Beavers did claim $43,000 in campaign money as income in 2005, according to testimony from Beavers&rsquo; accountant, Philip Achusim. The government also showed how Beavers got slammed with a $27,814 tax bill that year, which took him years to pay off.</p><p>After 2005, Achusim testified, Beavers didn&rsquo;t report any campaign cash on his tax returns.</p><p>Federal prosecutors also continued to hammer at Beavers for his gambling habit, highlighting his six digit gambling losses each year between 2006 and 2008.</p><p>A former worker at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Ind., testified last week that Beavers spent at least $500,000 a year playing slot machines.</p><p>The government said Monday it has several more witnesses to go through this week before the defense makes its case. Beavers&rsquo; lawyers have maintained the money he took out of his campaign accounts was in the form of loans, and so the commissioner doesn&rsquo;t have to pay taxes on it. They also blame Cook County for failing to report as income Beavers&rsquo; $1,200 monthly stipend.</p></p> Mon, 18 Mar 2013 13:29:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/jurors-endure-hours-tax-testimony-beavers-federal-tax-trial-106142 Gag order against attorneys in William Beavers tax trial http://www.wbez.org/news/gag-order-against-attorneys-william-beavers-tax-trial-106066 <p><p>The judge in the tax-evasion trial of an influential Chicago Democrat has imposed a gag order on attorneys a day after a defense lawyer said jury-pool selection was &quot;rigged.&quot;</p><p>The judge in William Beavers&#39; trial on Wednesday did not refer directly to the comments made by the Cook County Commissioner&#39;s lawyer, Sam Adam Sr.</p><p>But Judge James Zagel&#39;s meaning was clear. He said statements from attorneys in public during a trial often &quot;distracted&quot; from &quot;the purpose of the trial.&quot;</p><p>Adam angrily told reporters Tuesday that he was &quot;outraged&quot; there were no black men in the 50-person jury pool. And he suggested its composition was somehow fixed in advance.</p><p>Jury selection is done using a random system and is carried out by an independent office within the federal courthouse in Chicago.</p></p> Wed, 13 Mar 2013 10:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/gag-order-against-attorneys-william-beavers-tax-trial-106066 Federal trial set to begin for outspoken Cook County Commissioner http://www.wbez.org/news/federal-trial-set-begin-outspoken-cook-county-commissioner-104156 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/beavers - AP.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Jury selection is slated to begin Monday morning in the federal tax-evasion trial of an influential Cook County commissioner.</p><p>William&nbsp;Beavers&nbsp;is accused of diverting more than $226,000 from campaign coffers for personal use without reporting it as income on his returns. Prosecutors say the 77-year-old Democrat used nearly $69,000 to boost his city pension from his time as a Chicago alderman, and they also allege he spent a lot of the money on gambling.</p><p>Potential jurors will fill out questionnaires Monday and then face one-by-one questioning in court by the presiding judge, James Zagel.</p><p>Among the questions on the questionnaires is whether would-be jurors were ever audited by the IRS. Another question asks if they have strong feelings about gambling.</p><p>In a pretrial hearing on Friday, federal prosecutors revealed they plan to make Beavers&#39; gambling a central part of their argument.</p><p>&quot;We&#39;re gonna show his gambling losses,&quot; said Assistant U.S. Attorney Mattew Getter, though he didn&#39;t specify how much money Beavers allegedly lost at Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Ind. &quot;He lost a lot of money gambling,&quot; Getter added, saying Beavers went &quot;very frequently.&quot;</p><p>Since being indicted in February, Beavers has maintained his innoncence, and says he&#39;s only being prosecuted because he refused to wear a wire on fellow Cook County Commissioner John Daley, the brother of Chicago&#39;s former mayor.</p><p>Federal Judge James Zagel has said Beavers and his lawyers won&#39;t be able to make that argument during trial. But the judge has said the defense can argue Beavers made an honest mistake when he failed to pay taxes &mdash; that is, if the colorful Cook County commissioner takes the witness stand himself.</p><p>Beavers&#39; lawyers point to amended tax returns and bank documents to show Beavers tried to make good on his failure to pay taxes, but prosecutors say he only did that after he learned he was under investigation.</p><p>Lawyers have said a jury could be in place as soon as Tuesday. Once they&#39;re impaneled, attorneys would deliver their opening statements. The trial is expected to last about two weeks.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 03 Dec 2012 09:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/federal-trial-set-begin-outspoken-cook-county-commissioner-104156 Todd Stroger defends friend and ally William Beavers http://www.wbez.org/story/todd-stronger-defends-friend-and-ally-william-beavers-96823 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-February/2012-02-29/3033scr_18393c797974951.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Cook County Board will meet Wednesday for its first time since Commissioner William Beavers was indicted on federal tax charges, setting up a potentially awkward gathering.</p><p>Beavers has told reporters he was only indicted because he refused federal investigators' request that he wear a wire during conversations with fellow Commissioner John Daley, brother of the former Chicago mayor.</p><p>Daley, who's said Beavers is only trying to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/cook-county-commissioner-bill-beavers-indicted-96664">shift the spotlight</a>, chairs the county board's finance committee, which meets Wednesday morning. A Beavers aide said Tuesday that the meeting is on the commissioner's schedule, but she could not say if he was going to be there or not.</p><p>Beavers is scheduled to be arraigned Friday in federal court before federal Judge James Zagel. Zagel was the presiding judge in the two corruption trials of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.</p><p>Meantime, Beavers got a boost Tuesday from a friend and ally, former Cook County Board President Todd Stroger.</p><p>"I know the commissioner well, and he has been a very good person to the community that he represented," Stroger said during an <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/bez/2012-02-28/todd-stroger-local-politics-his-time-office-96814">interview</a> on WBEZ's <em>Afternoon Shift with Steve Edwards. </em>"[Beavers] made sure that people had opportunities to get jobs and contracts, and cares about people."</p><p>In 2006, when Democrats maneuvered to replace Stroger's father, the then-ailing Cook County Board President John Stroger, it was Beavers who helped Todd get on the ballot.&nbsp;</p><p>The two had served together in the Chicago City Council and both moved to the county board in 2006. During Stroger's tumultuous four years as board president, Beavers was perhaps his most consistent supporter.</p><p>Stroger said on WBEZ that he'd not seen the indictment, but said he had no reason to doubt Beavers' claim that federal investigators had retaliated against him for refusing to wear a wire.</p><p>"I think that tells you a lot of how the federal government works," Stroger said. "They try to put all the pressure in the world on you to do what they want, and then you know if you don't, then you have to suffer the consequences."</p></p> Wed, 29 Feb 2012 06:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/todd-stronger-defends-friend-and-ally-william-beavers-96823 Feds subpoenaed Illinois election board in Beavers probe http://www.wbez.org/story/feds-subpoenaed-illinois-election-board-beavers-probe-96713 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-February/2012-02-23/AP041109017131.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Updated at 2:45 p.m.</em></p><p>The Illinois State Board of Elections received two subpoenas - including one earlier this month - from federal prosecutors during their investigation of Cook County Commissioner William Beavers. The longtime Democrat's indictment on federal tax charges was announced Thursday by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.</p><p>The indictment alleges Beavers used campaign money for personal use, but didn’t pay federal tax on all that income. Prosecutors also say Beavers lied to his campaign treasurers, leading them to file false campaign finance reports with the Illinois State Board of Elections.</p><p>While investigating Beavers, the U.S. Attorney's office issued two subpoenas to the board of elections. The board released the documents Friday in response to WBEZ's request under the state's Freedom of Information Act.</p><p>The <a href="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/extras/2012-February/2012-02-24/BeaversSubpoena.PDF">most recent subpoena</a>, dates Feb. 7, 2012, requested "any and all documents" regarding Beavers or the three campaign committees he controls. The subpoena covered documents from July 2009 to the end of 2011, and included campaign disclosure filings filed by the committees, plus "[a]ll work-papers, notes, papers, memoranda and correspondence received or prepared by [the election board] relative to the preparation or review of the aforementioned reports."</p><p>The <a href="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/extras/2012-February/2012-02-24/BeaversSubpoena2.PDF">earlier subpoena</a>, dated July 9, 2009, made the same request for all earlier documents filed by Beavers and his three committees.</p><p>The indictment released Thursday concerned income taxes from 2006 to 2008.</p><p>Beaver's indictment also alleged he tapped his county discretionary fund for personal use without disclosing that on his income tax returns. WGN News and the Better Government Association previously reported that prosecutors subpoenaed those records from Cook County.</p><p>Beavers has told media outlets that he paid his taxes. He claimed the feds only went after him because he refused to wear a wire.</p></p> Fri, 24 Feb 2012 18:19:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/feds-subpoenaed-illinois-election-board-beavers-probe-96713