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Beavers Defense Rests Without Commissioner on Stand

Testimony from first defense witness cut short after judge rules him unreliable

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Tax expert Barry Gershinzon was the defense team's sole witness, and his remarks were cut short when Judge James Zagel ruled him unreliable. Phil Rogers reports.

    Closing arguments were scheduled to begin Thursday morning in the tax evasion case against Cook County Commissioner William Beavers.

    The commissioner's defense team rested Wednesday afternoon after just a few hours of testimony. Beavers did not take the stand in his own defense.

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    Prosecutor Sam Cole said the Cook County Commissioner spent thousands from his campaign coffers at a lake-side casino. Defense attorney Sam Adam Jr. told jurors they'd see that his client hadn't committed any crimes. Phil Rogers reports.

    "That's a decision I made your honor," he said, appearing calm and somber.

    Testimony from the defense team's first witness was cut short earlier in the day. Tax expert Barry Gershinzon took the stand for more than an hour. He said some money at issue could have been viewed as loans and therefore wasn't taxable.

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    County commissioner says there's "no question" he'll take the stand in his own defense. Phil Rogers reports.

    But Judge James Zagel stopped him and said the witness had started factoring in assumptions about Beavers' intentions and so wasn't a reliable witness.

    Cutting Gershinzon's testimony short could be a major blow to the defense.

    Beavers has pleaded not guilty to charges he failed to report campaign cash used for gambling as income on his federal tax returns.

    Zagel previously ruled that only Beavers himself could have told jurors he belatedly paid overdue taxes. And only Beavers could have said that any mistakes on his taxes were unintentional. But taking the stand also presented huge risks. Beavers would have been subjected to a potentially damaging cross-examination by prosecutors.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.