Cook County Commissioner William Beavers allegedly used thousands of dollars from campaign accounts for personal use, including gambling, and failed to report those funds on three consecutive tax returns, officials said in a federal indictment returned Thursday.
Beavers, 77, denied the allegations and said the indictment is retaliation because he refused to wear a wire on fellow Commissioner John Daley.
NBC Chicago talked to him through the intercom in lobby of his building. He would not come down.
"I did nothing," he said. "I wouldn't wear a wire for John Daley. I'm no stool pigeon. I'm not worried."
Commissioner John Daley said he was surprised that Beavers would invoke his name.
"This indictment today is about Commissioner Beavers and the district attorney outlined the indictment against him, and it will run its course and it's strictly about Commissioner Beavers," said Daley, the brother of former Mayor Richard Daley and former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley.
Daley said he's never used his contigency account but acknowledged that some commissioners do. He said rules have been clarified as to how those funds can be used.
"But if you're going to use it for income, you end up with what happened today."
Beavers is charged with three counts of filing false tax returns. Authorities allege he under-reported his total income and taxable income on his federal returns for 2006-2008:
- $208,561 total income and $98,453 taxable income for 2006;
- $487,568 total and $204,228 taxable for 2007; and
- $300,408 total and $171,507 taxable for 2008.
"If politicians choose to use their campaign funds for personal use then they, like all the citizens they serve, share the obligation to honestly report their income and pay the correct amount of taxes," U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said in a written statement.
If convicted, Beavers faces a maximum penalty of 12 years in prison and a $750,000 fine.
"Today’s action by the U.S. Attorney’s Office alleges serious allegations against Commissioner Beavers," said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, offering a reminder that there is a presumption of innocence until the government proves otherwise.
"We hope and expect that justice will be served," she said.
Beavers is one of five commissioners who agreed to, and then later changed their minds on, Preckwinkle's proposal that commissioners take 10 unpaid days as a way to help the county make its budgetary goals.