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Beavers Deflects, Pleads Not Guilty To Tax Fraud Charges

By Chuck Sudo in News on Mar 3, 2012 4:00PM

Cook County Commissioner William Beavers was formally arraigned on charges of tax fraud Friday afternoon. Beavers pleaded not guilty to the charges, which was expected. What wasn't was his verbal assault on federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald after.

Beavers blamed Fitzgerald's hard-charging investigative style with facilitating the suicides of former Chicago School Board president Michael Scott, former Rod Blagojevich ally Chris Kelly, and Orlando Jones, a former Cook County aide and godson of late County Board President John Stroger. Beavers accused Fitzgerald of using "Gestapo-like tactics" in an attempt to further his career.

“Let me tell you about this federal prosecutor,” an emotional Beavers said in the lobby of the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse after his arraignment. “This is like a wild man on a train, and somebody needs to stop him. He has caused three deaths: Michael Scott, Orlando Jones and Chris Kelly with the Gestapo-type tactics that he used to try to make them tell on their friends.”

All three were all under federal investigation at the times of their deaths, but only Chris Kelly was directly investigated by Fitzgerald's office. Michael Scott shot himself along the banks of the Chicago River in 2009. He was under financial duress at the time of his suicide and an investigation by Chicago Public Schools' Inspector General showed he spent school system funds on parties, catered lunches and a sweep for listening devices in CPS offices. He was also subpoenaed in a federal grand jury investigation into how some students were selected for the system's magnet high schools.

Kelly overdosed on aspirin, and ingested some rat poison, in his 2009 suicide. Orlando Jones, who was being investigated by the FBI for an alleged contract scheme in Las Vegas, shot himself on a Michigan beach in 2007.

“He’s on the short list for the FBI [director] — that would be the worst thing that could happen,” Beavers said of Fitzgerald. “He would be worse than J. Edgar Hoover.”

This is the second time Beavers has tried to deflect attention away from himself since he was indicted on tax fraud charges Feb. 23. In the moments following the indictment, Beavers said he was only indicted because he wouldn't wear a wire on fellow county commissioner John Daley. Daley said at the time he didn't know why Beavers would try to drag him into the mess.