Beavers: Indictment is ‘horse s---’; wouldn’t wear wire on John Daley
By LISA DONOVAN AND ABDON M. PALLASCH Staff Reporters February 23, 2012 1:54PM
Commissioner William Beavers
Updated: March 25, 2012 8:14AM
The “Hog” says he wouldn’t squeal — and he got indicted because of it.
Cook County Commissioner William Beavers, an old-school Chicago politician who likes to call himself “The Hog With the Big Nuts,” has been indicted on federal tax charges.
The feds allege he failed to pay taxes on more than $226,000 he took from his campaign funds and his county expense account to go gambling and to boost his city pension.
The crime was not taking the money — it was failing to report it and pay taxes on it when he converted it to personal use, Fitzgerald said.
But Beavers, 77, called the indictment “horse s--- I’m not worried about.”
He said the feds only indicted him because he refused to wear a wire on fellow Commissioner John Daley, the brother of former Mayor Richard M. Daley and of former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley.
“They tried to get to me to become a stool pigeon, and I wouldn’t become a stool pigeon,” Beavers said Thursday, when he learned of the indictment from the Sun-Times. “They wanted me to wear a wire on John Daley. S---.”
Asked why FBI agents wanted him to wear a wire, he barked: “How do I know? I don’t know. I don’t even know John Daley that well. I told them I’m too old to be a stool pigeon. S---. And when I’m ready to confess, I’ll go to confession — that’s what I told them. I have an attorney.”
John Daley said he was surprised at what he characterized Beavers’ attempt to change the story.
“I have no idea what he’s talking about,” Daley said.
He said Beavers never approached him to say that any federal agents had asked Beavers to wear a wire on him. Looking at the indictment against Beavers, Daley said: “It’s pretty obvious what this is about, and this has nothing to do with me. I have never taken my [commissioner’s expense account] from Day 1.”
Daley said Beavers appeared to be throwing Daley’s name up Thursday in an attempt to change the story.
“The story is about Bill Beavers’ indictment — that’s what the story is and only that,” Daley said.
Daley does not believe he is under federal investigation.
Beavers said in 2009 two FBI agents came to his South Side home and asked him to “wear a wire on John Daley.”
“They said ‘we don’t want you – we want John Daley,’” Beavers said on Thursday. He said he didn’t know why they’d be going after the veteran commissioner.
When Beavers refused, he said the feds hinted they were coming after him.
“Before they left they said ‘you know, we know you don’t pay your taxes,’” Beavers said. “I said ‘I DO pay my taxes.’”
“The very next week, I got a letter telling me I was being investigated for taxes,” Beavers said. “My attorney wrote them a letter telling them they couldn’t talk to me without him present.”
In 2010, the Sun-Times reported that the Internal Revenue Service subpoenaed expense account reports outlining how Beavers spent a monthly stipend earmarked for out-of-pocket business expenses.
For years, county commissioners have quietly collected as much as $1,200 a month on top of their $85,000 salary. They are required to submit reports on how they spend money from the expense account — labeled a “slush fund” by commissioners who refuse to accept the contingency cash.
On Thursday, Beavers said the county should have sent him a 1099 on the expense account monies - and apparently didn’t.
He said this wasn’t some attempt to skirt paying taxes.
U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald wouldn’t comment on Beavers’ claims that the feds asked him to wear a wire and cautioned reporters not to read anything into his refusal.
“It would be entirely unfair to read into my non-comment...” Fitzgerald said. “If you asked me whether or not he was indicted because he failed to wear a wire on the Pope, I’d say the same thing. We don’t comment on people not charged.”
Beavers is charged with one count of corruptly endeavoring to obstruct and impede the IRS and three counts of filing false federal income tax returns. The indictment alleges that from 2006 to 2008, Beavers used his campaign accounts for personal use and then doctored his records so the Internal Revenue Service wouldn’t find out. If convicted on the four counts, Beavers could face probation to up to 12 years in prison.
“They (public officials) owe taxes like everybody else and they have an obligation to declare their income on their tax returns accurately,” Fitzgerald said. Beavers “caused his employees to file inaccurate reports by giving them false information.” The employees might not have known Beavers was having them record false accounts of where the money was going, Fitzgerald said.
In his finely-tailored dark suits and deep, authoritative voice, the 6-foot-1 Beavers was the consummate Chicago ward boss, often smoking in defiance of smoking bans at the City Council or the County Board offices.
Beavers spent 21 years as a Chicago Police officer, then was alderman of the South Side’s 7th ward for 23 years. He was elected to the Cook County Board in 2006. Beavers said he made the switch from the City Council to the County Board because he wanted to do “less work.”
Beavers tried to get his daughter elected to his City Council seat only to have Sandi Jackson, wife of U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, make a successful run. With typical bravado, Beavers initially dismissed the political threat Jackson’s wife posed.
“He can run Mickey Mouse, if he wants to. But he won’t be able to raise a dime for her or for himself,” Beavers said.
Daley and Beavers were both members of the Old Guard on the Cook County Democratic Central Committee. But they have had a strained relationship on the Cook County Board, especially since Toni Preckwinkle took over as Board President. Daley supports Preckwinkle. Beavers opposes her.
Beavers once backed a move to allow aldermen to retire younger and still get their pensions, saying, “If you can survive 20 years [as an alderman] without going to jail, then you need a pension and you should have it at 55. Why should you have to wait?”
In 2006, Beavers wrote a check for $68,763.07 from one of his campaign funds to the Municipal Employees’ Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago, boosting his monthly pension $2,890 to $6,541, according to the indictment. He also took $28,800 from his expense account, the indictment said.
Contributing: Rummana Hussain, Carol Marin