William Beavers sentenced to 6 months, fined $10,000
BY JON SEIDEL Staff Reporter September 25, 2013 9:58AM
Updated: October 28, 2013 7:01AM
William Beavers has plenty to say. Just not to U.S. Judge James Zagel.
“I didn’t want him to know anything about me,” Beavers said.
So facing 21 months behind bars, Beavers didn’t write the judge one letter. The former Chicago Police officer, 7th Ward alderman and Cook County commissioner didn’t beg for mercy.
The self-proclaimed “hog with the big nuts,” in fact, didn’t say one word to the judge before Zagel sentenced him Wednesday to six months in prison for being a tax cheat. Beavers didn’t “want to piss him off.”
“I don’t beg my woman,” the 78-year-old Beavers later told reporters. “So you know I wouldn’t go beg the judge, all right?”
The defiant Beavers flashed a smile in Zagel’s courtroom after the judge handed down the sentence. He denied doing so later — through a grin.
His punishment includes a $10,000 fine, $30,848 in restitution to the IRS and a year of supervised release during which he must perform 400 hours of community service. And he’ll have to give his gambling habit a rest.
Still, Beavers declared victory Wednesday over a government he maintains put him on trial for refusing to wear a wire against Cook County Commissioner John Daley. He called them out on it from Day One, he said, and “put ’em all on notice.”
“Maybe they won’t be able to do this to anybody else,” Beavers said.
He also said he’ll appeal and try to stay out of prison while doing so. Defense attorney Sam Adam Jr. argued the appeal could take longer than Beavers’ actual sentence. He is set to surrender Dec. 2.
U.S. Attorney Gary Shapiro said the sentence should have been longer. And he said Beavers’ scorn for the government feeds into the public’s mistrust of elected officials. But he doesn’t expect Beavers to stay free.
“My suspicion is he will be serving his sentence,” Shapiro said.
Federal prosecutors accused Beavers of using his political campaign accounts from 2006 until 2008 as a “slush fund” to swell his pension and for gambling sprees at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, then failing to pay taxes on those withdrawals.
He claimed he’d merely loaned himself the money, and he blamed the county for failing to report $30,000 in expense checks he took as income. Nevertheless, a federal jury convicted him after less than two hours of deliberations in March, costing him his seat on the county board.
Beavers strolled into Zagel’s courtroom Wednesday carrying a copy of the Chicago Sun-Times, sat down at the defense table and tapped his fingers on the desk.
One day earlier, the Sun-Times published an interview Beavers gave columnist Mark Brown, who predicted Beavers wouldn’t ask for mercy and quoted the former commissioner.
“I’m not going to change,” Beavers told Brown. “I’m not going to change at all. Whether you know it or not, I’m regarded as a hero in my community.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Getter tried to use those words against Beavers Wednesday, arguing Beavers has “no sense of remorse or recognition of responsibility” and blames everyone but himself for his legal trouble.
“No one did this to him,” Getter said. “He’s the victim of his own greed and his own arrogance.”
Defense attorney Aaron Goldstein said Beavers offered explanations, not excuses, for his conviction. He also said Beavers was convicted of a tax crime and not of public corruption.
On that last point, at least, Zagel agreed.
“[Beavers] wasn’t selling his vote for money,” Zagel said. “He wasn’t selling his influence for money.”
The judge called Beavers’ crime a “common tax offense” nonetheless aggravated by Beavers’ position as an elected official.
At the same time, Zagel said Beavers has “no claim of great public achievement,” which oddly cut in Beavers’ favor.
“What he had was status,” Zagel said. “And I don’t think he falls into the category of people with great power.”
Beavers later said the judge would have known better “if he’d read the newspapers.”
“It’s been in there, what I’ve done,” Beavers said. “I’ve got a record. Of managing a $6 billion budget for the City of Chicago. All right? That’s an accomplishment.”
Meanwhile, he said, his conviction hasn’t stopped him from living life. He golfs. He shops. “My life is good,” he said.
Even though he’s just the latest Chicago politician preparing for prison.
“I do any and everything I want to do,” Beavers said.