Tax evasion trial begins for Cook County Commissioner

Jury selection began today in the tax evasion trial of Cook County Commissioner William Beavers.  The potential jurors filled out questionnaires and they will return tomorrow for interviews.

Attorneys could present their opening statements late tomorrow or Wednesday.

The big question as trial begins is whether Beavers will take the witness stand.

Beavers did not say anything to reporters when he arrived this morning at the Dirksen Federal Building.

Federal prosecutors claim Beavers, a former police officer and Chicago Alderman, took $225,000 from campaign funds he controlled, spent the money on personal things, and did not pay taxes on the money over a 3-year period.  They claim Beavers also did not pay taxes on $69,000 he put into a retirement fund, which doubled his monthly pension.

Prosecutors plan to show Beavers gambled with some of the campaign cash at Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Indiana.

Beavers says he paid back the campaign money, which he had always intended to do, and amended his tax returns.  He accuses the FBI of only coming after him because he refused to wear a wire and record a fellow Commissioner.

Federal Judge James Zagel has ruled that if Beavers wants to tell the jury that he tried to make amends and about his accusation against the FBI, he must take the stand.  Before court began today his attorney would not commit to whether Beavers would testify.

The trial is expected to last about two weeks.

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