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Casino manager: William Beavers was a ‘Seven Star’ gambler

Cook County Commissioner William Beavers

Cook County Commissioner William Beavers

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Updated: April 17, 2013 6:09AM

Cook County Commissioner William Beavers lost nearly half a million dollars in three years playing slots at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, a casino manager testified.

The full extent of the 78-year-old’s gambling habit was laid out in stunning detail Friday during his tax fraud trial in federal court.

Beavers was a “Seven Star” gambler at the casino — a top level high roller, Horseshoe’s director of cage operations Janet Guerrero told jurors. In order to qualify, he had to put at least $500,000 a year through the casino’s slots, she said.

Beavers met that requirement in February 2006, and continued to spend at that level, Guerrero said. He played in the “high limit slot salon” and was granted perks including steak dinners, show tickets and trips as a reward for his heavy gambling, she said.

Records of Beavers’ net losses — recorded on his membership card — showed the Horseshoe had reason to keep him a happy customer.

In 2006, he lost more than $200,000; in 2007 he lost more than $196,000; and in 2008 he lost more than $80,000. Over the three-year period he lost nearly $477,000, records showed.

Three snapshots of individual casino visits that Beavers made in 2007 provided a window into his behavior. During those visits he gambled at a heady rate of a dollar a second while playing the Horseshoe’s one-armed bandits — a pace he’d have to keep up for more than 140 hours each year to maintain his “Seven Star” status.

The large gambling losses for a man whose county salary was just $89,000 are likely to be used by the government during closing arguments as a strong motive for Beavers to have cheated on his taxes.

Though the gambling sprees themselves weren’t illegal, Beavers is accused of raiding his political campaign funds for personal expenses, including gambling, then failing to report those withdrawals as income on his tax returns from 2006 though 2008. Time stamped casino records from an April 9, 2007 losing streak tie directly into a series of $2,000 withdrawals Beavers made from his campaign fund that day, prosecutors say.

Faced with such potentially damaging testimony, defense attorney Sam Adam Jr. pointed to winning gambling runs Beavers enjoyed at two Las Vegas casinos in 2007. But the Vegas winnings of $12,000, paled next to his Hammond losses.

Adam also questioned the accuracy and completeness of the casino’s records. Guerrero conceded that Beavers’ bets were only recorded when he used his membership card, and that the Casino’s rewards counting system shut down for a couple of hours every day.

Still, Guerrero said, the records were “as accurate as possible.”

Earlier Friday, jurors heard from Beaver’s personal assistant, Vetrice Coleman, who filled out Beavers’ campaign spending disclosure forms. Coleman testified that she did not tell the state election board about checks Beavers cut himself from his campaign fund, unless Beavers told her what they were for.

The trial will resume Monday, with Beavers adamant that he will take the stand in his own defense.

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