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William Beavers plans to tell jurors he refuses to be ‘stool pigeon’

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Updated: April 13, 2013 6:23AM

Cook County Commissioner William Beavers said his courtroom experience as a Chicago police officer would help him beat his federal tax-fraud case Monday as he again vowed to take the stand to tell jurors that he is being prosecuted for refusing to be a “stool pigeon.”

But Beavers, 78, likely will have to wait until Wednesday for his trial to start, and he won’t get to testify until next week because Judge James Zagel delayed jury selection until Tuesday.

Accused of failing to pay taxes on $226,000 in campaign funds he used for personal expenses, the former alderman and onetime cop says he amended his tax returns as soon as he realized he’d made an honest mistake.

Speaking outside court after an hourlong hearing Monday, Beavers said he was looking forward to the chance to “tell what these people are really about” — a reference to his repeated insistence that he is being vindictively prosecuted for refusing to wear a wire against fellow commissioner John Daley, who has rubbished his claims.

“I did this for 21 years as a cop,” Beavers said of his plan to take the stand. “It’s not hard if you’ve been telling the same story from the beginning.”

Defense attorneys typically prefer not to subject their clients to a risky cross-examination from prosecutors, but Sam Adam Jr., representing Beavers, said his client’s police background showed he was up to the task.

Rulings that Zagel made before Christmas placed intense pressure on Beavers to testify: Unless he does, his lawyers can’t refer to the fact that he ultimately paid the missing taxes or his claim that he’s being punished for refusing to cooperate with the feds.

Despite the confidence Adam and Beavers projected, Aaron Goldstein, also representing Beavers, spent much of Monday’s hearing trying to persuade the judge to loosen those restrictions.

Zagel declined, but he said he would revisit the issue during the trial if necessary. Also on Monday, he ruled that jurors identities will be kept confidential from the public — an unusual move typically reserved for mob trials and the very highest-profile political defendants.

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