03/21/2013 05:11 pm ET Updated Mar 22, 2013

William Beavers Verdict: Theatrical Cook County Commissioner Found Guilty Of Tax Evasion

The long-delayed trial for Cook County Commissioner William Beavers finally reached a conclusion Thursday after a jury found the 78-year-old guilty of tax evasion.

The jury's verdict was reached after just an hour of deliberation, according to CBS Chicago.

Beavers had 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.

As the case wrapped Thursday, Beavers' attorney Sam Adam Jr. said his client may have a gambling "problem," but that he never meant to bilk the IRS, according to the Associated Press.

Though the often-colorful Beavers — who once referred to himself as a "hog with the big nuts" — was previously expected to take the stand, he ultimately declined, leaving the theatrics to his lawyers.

According to WBEZ, Adam sprinkled Thursday's closing arguments with voice imitations, bizarre celebrity references and personal jabs at the government’s star witness, William Ponzo.

Adam, who has previously represented the equally-theatrical indicted ex-Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, was warned by Judge James Zagel after saying to the jury, "they are trying to bamboozle you."

The Sun-Times reports Adam also mocked Ponzo's one-time failure of an accounting exam, insinuating the failing grade made his analysis unreliable.

“That’s like Lindsay Lohan telling Betty Ford how to tell people how to get off drugs,” Adam said. “That’s like Lovie Smith telling Phil Jackson how to win championships.”

The week and a half-long trial was marked by several dramatic turns, including rousing opening statements and an unusual jury that, despite random selection, turned up zero black men out of a pool of 50.

Beavers faces a maximum three-year prison term on each of the four tax counts he was found guilty of Thursday.

The influential Chicago-area politician was a police officer for over two decades before he was elected as 7th Ward alderman in 1983 and a Cook County Board commissioner since 2006.




Corruption In Illinois