The federal tax evasion trial of Cook County Commissioner William Beavers has been delayed until the end of January because one of his attorneys is ill, a judge decided today.
Beavers’ legal team had asked for opening statements to be delayed until Monday because attorney Victor Henderson is suffering from acute bronchitis. But U.S. District Judge James Zagel raised concern that even a week’s delay would bring the projected two-week trial’s end too close to the Christmas holidays for jurors who might have other obligations.
“People might be distracted,” Zagel said. “Christmas takes a lot of preparation … There is nothing worse than a juror who is distracted.”
Zagel also noted that the speed of Henderson’s recovery is still an “unknown factor.”
Zagel set trial for Jan. 31.
Though Beavers had five attorneys to defend him in court, Henderson is the team’s tax expert, said Sam Adam Jr., who is also representing Beavers.
Beavers, asked about the delay after court, said he was a bit disappointed that he wouldn’t be able to soon put the trial behind him.
“I want to go to Gibson’s and get me a steak,” said Beavers, looking forward to what he expects to be an acquittal.
The delay, however, will allow Beavers’ attorney, Adam Jr., to more fully explore his run for the 2ndDistrict Congressional seat recently vacated by the embattled Jesse Jackson Jr., who is himself under investigation for alleged campaign fraud.
Asked by reporters about his potential run, Adam said he said he will now be able to spend the next 10 days exploring the idea with his family and by speaking to residents of the district. But he said he was not as concerned about talking to party leaders, prompting Beavers, a powerful force in Chicago politics and also a former alderman, to nudge his way to the microphone.
“I’m the top vote-getter in Cook County,” he quipped. “He’s gonna talk to me.”
Beavers is accused of taking more than $225,000 from campaign funds he controlled, spending the money on personal expenses and then failing to pay income taxes on a portion. He is alleged to have taken almost $69,000 in campaign contributions and placed it in a city retirement fund to more than double his monthly pension in 2006 -- all without paying taxes on the money.
Beavers has long argued that he returned the $69,000 and also amended his tax returns to reflect his spending of the campaign funds. He has also accused the U.S. attorney's office of prosecuting him only after he refused to cooperate against other elected public officials.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun