The delayed tax-evasion trial of Cook County Commissioner William Beavers is set to get underway with jury selection Monday in Chicago.
Beavers has long maintained his innocence amid charges that he siphoned off thousands of unreported dollars -- to the tune of $226,000 -- in campaign money to pay for gambling debts racked up at the Horseshoe Casino and other personal expenses. And he has vowed to take the witness stand to make that case.
"It should be interesting," Beavers, 78, said last week.
The influential Chicago-area politician, who was a police officer for over two decades before he was elected as 7th Ward alderman in 1983 and a Cook County Board member since 2006, has claimed the alleged tax dodging was "an oversight" and he previously implied he was asked by the feds to participate in a bigger investigation into activities by fellow commissioner John Daley and then-board president Todd Stroger.
His attorney, Sam Adam Jr., was less committal about Beavers taking the stand, but it appears the self-proclaimed "hog with the big nuts" will need to testify in order to make the argument that he already repaid the campaign money and amended his taxes upon learning of the federal investigation, the Chicago Tribune reports.
If convicted, Beavers faces a fine of $250,000 and maximum penalty of three years in federal prison for each count against him.
Meanwhile, Beavers told Fox Chicago he is confident he will be found not guilty in the trial.
"Right now I'm ready to go to trial," Beavers told the station. "I've been ready. I was angry when they first brought all these charges - I'm still angry. But I'm not as bitter as I was."