CHICAGO (AP) — A powerful Chicago politician fond of playing slot machines spent thousands of dollars from his campaign coffers at a casino and then falsely declared he'd spent it on authorized campaign expenses, a prosecutor told newly seated jurors Thursday.
The accusations came during the sometimes dramatic openings at William Beavers' trial, where a defense attorney fired back later that the 78-year-old Cook County commissioner viewed the money as loans and eventually paid most of it back.
"He didn't violate anything — except being the best darn commissioner he could be," Beavers' lawyer, Sam Adam Jr., told jurors as he paced the floor, pointing and shouting.
The trial is focused on dry tax and accounting issues but has drawn a spotlight because of Beavers' you-can't-touch-me persona. The Democrat likened a then-chief prosecutor in his tax case to a Nazi and bragged about telling investigators to kiss his posterior.
Beavers is best known for years earlier offering a favorable estimation of his influence by calling himself "a hog with big nuts."
Standing by boxes full of banking documents and clicking on a remote, prosecutor Sam Cole displayed three separate, $2,000 checks on a courtroom screen that Beavers wrote to himself withdrawing $6,000 from his campaign fund on April 9, 2007.
On that day, Beavers was at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Ind., using the cash to feed his gambling habit, Cole told jurors. But on an election board form later, Beavers declared the $6,000 went toward campaign expenses.
"Ladies and gentlemen, that's a lie," Cole said. "It was taken out for gambling money."
He said Beavers especially enjoyed playing slot machines.
Beavers, dressed in a dark suit with a yellow tie and matching pocket square, sat at the defense table listening through headphones linked to a courtroom sound system.