Whatever happens, former Cook County Commissioner Bill Beavers is due to get out of federal prison late next month.
But the gruff-voiced 79-year-old tax fraudster, former alderman and Chicago cop probably shouldn’t expect to get out any sooner than that, based on the unimpressed reaction Thursday morning of a panel of federal appeals court judges.
“I don’t know what you’re saying,” a bewildered Appeals Court Judge Richard Posner told Beavers’ attorney Sheldon Sorosky, as Sorosky argued for Beavers’ conviction to be tossed out before the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Beavers was found guilty last year of failing to declare as income cash he took from his political campaign fund and county stipend, and used to bankroll huge gambling losses. Now, he is arguing that he was denied a fair trial by U.S. District Judge James Zagel; Sorosky said Zagel made a series of “biased” key rulings against Beavers.
But the stakes of Beavers’ appeal were reduced dramatically in November when the 7th Circuit refused to delay the start of his six-month sentence while it heard his case.
And though the court has yet to rule, any lingering hopes that he’ll be released early from the federal prison in Rochester, Minn., seemed to be snuffed out by the pointed questions that Posner, as well as judges Ilana Rovner and Joel Flaum, zinged Sorosky with Thursday.
During one exchange, Posner asked if there were evidence to support Beavers’ claim that he would have paid back missing money if he hadn’t been visited by the FBI.
After a lengthy pause, Sorosky replied, “I don’t think there is any.”
“Well then, why would you expect the jury to believe that?” Posner shot back.