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Former Cook County Commissioner William Beavers after he was sentenced to six months and fined $10,000 for tax evasion. | Ashlee Rezin/for Sun-Times Media

William Beavers’ tax fraud conviction upheld

Former Cook County Commissioner William Beavers’ tax fraud conviction has been upheld by a federal appeals court.

In a widely-expected ruling published Monday, the 7th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals found that Judge James Zagel made no significant errors in his handling of the gruff-voiced 79-year-old’s trial last year.

Even if the appeals court had ruled favor of the self-proclaimed “hog with the big nuts,” it would have had little effect: Beavers finished serving his six month prison service in May.

Beavers was handed the prison term last year after a jury found him guilty of failing to declare as income cash he took from his political campaign fund and county stipend, and used to bankroll huge gambling losses.

His lawyers later challenged a series of what they said were “biased” rulings by Zagel, and claimed Beavers was denied a fair trial because he had no fellow black men in his jury pool.

But the 7th Circuit telegraphed its intention to reject those arguments during oral arguments in April, when a bewildered Appeals Court Judge Richard Posner told Beavers’ attorney Sheldon Sorosky “I don’t know what you’re saying.”

In Monday’s ruling for the 7th Circuit, Judge Joel Flaum wrote that Beavers’ attorneys failed to properly object to the lack of black men in the jury pool at the correct time, and that Zagel had been right to reject much of the evidence from Beavers’ “expert” tax witness.