Beavers, 77, a former South Side alderman who never feared political repercussion in bluntly standing up for himself and his patronage operation while battling any challenge to his clout, denied the charges. He quickly claimed his prosecution was due to his refusal to be a "stool pigeon" in a broader federal investigation.
Among the city's elder African-American politicians, Beavers eschewed political correctness as a sign of weakness. He refused to take a furlough pay cut in the past year from a cash-strapped county government, calling one commissioner who favored the cost-cutting move "an idiot and misfit." He pulled the race card when allies, such as former Cook County Board Chairman Todd Stroger, were criticized.
The indictment alleged that from 2006 to 2008, Beavers took more than $225,000 in about 100 checks written from three campaign funds he controls. He allegedly took at least part of the money for himself, using some to gamble. The indictment also alleged Beavers had a $68,000 campaign check written to a city pension fund to more than double his monthly aldermanic pension, then masked the expense on campaign records.
At the same time, the indictment alleged that during those three years, Beavers took monthly $1,200 county expense payments and used them to boost his personal income.
In each case, the indictment alleged, Beavers failed to pay federal income taxes on the campaign and expense money.
The four charges against Beavers — three counts of filing false federal income tax returns and one count of obstructing the Internal Revenue Service — together carry a maximum penalty of 12 years in prison.
In addition to getting $85,000 for his County Board salary, city records show Beavers collects about $91,000 a year for his aldermanic pension and more than $15,000 annually for his police pension.
Beavers insisted he knowingly paid all his taxes and contended the indictment was payback by federal prosecutors for his refusal to wear a wire.
"They said: 'We don't want you. We want John Daley,'" Beavers said of the former mayor's brother, who is a commissioner and chairman of the County Board's Finance Committee. "We want you to wear a wire."
Beavers said that about a week after he had rebuffed the government request to wear a wire, he was notified by letter that he was under investigation.
The longtime politician went on to profess to the Tribune his innocence in the bullish manner he's known for.
"I'll be as big news as they are," Beavers boldly proclaimed, saying his story will match the government's indictment. "You got to write they wanted me to be a stool pigeon."
Beavers said he didn't know what the government was allegedly after with Daley — nor could he remember exactly when he was approached by investigators. He said it happened in the hallway of his apartment building.
"They asked me face to face," he said of the meeting.
Beavers also made clear that he was not looking to cut a deal. "When I confess, I go to church," he said.
Beavers' legal team — attorneys Sam Adam Sr. and Sam Adam Jr. — seemed to be taking a similar approach.
"My father is not the kind of man who takes people to the government and makes stool pigeons out of them, but rather stands up and fights for their rights," said the younger Adam, who said his father has known Beavers for 40 years.