Lawyers for Cook County Commissioner William Beavers rested their case Wednesday in his fight against federal tax fraud charges, the Sun-Times is reporting.
Beavers, however, did not take the stand — something he had vowed he would do.
Early Wednesday, Beavers had a major roadblock when the judge overseeing his trial halted the testimony of a key defense witness he described as “untrustworthy” — outside earshot of the jury.
Beavers’ legal team had based much of his defense around the expert opinion of accountant Barry Gershinzon. But not long after Gershinzon took the stand as the first defense witness Wednesday morning, Judge James Zagel began to repeatedly sustain government objections to the accountant’s testimony.
After ordering the jury out of the courtroom and hearing Gershinzon explain his views in more detail, Zagel said that he was “deeply concerned about (the accountant’s) reliability as a witness,” adding he found Gershinzon “untrustworthy.”
Beavers’ attorneys were relying heavily on Gershinzon’s opinions that Beavers did not have to pay taxes on a $68,000 boost he gave his pension from campaign funds; that withdrawals he took from his political campaign funds for personal expenses including gambling were loans, not income he should have paid taxes on; and that it was the county’s fault, not Beavers’, that he didn’t declare $1,200 a month stipends as income.
But Zagel said he believed Gershinzon, when answering questions in court, was incapable of setting aside what Beavers told him. Any such testimony would have to come directly from Beavers or it will be hearsay, the judge has previously ruled.
“It is my judgment that he cannot let go of what the defendant told him as a determining factor,” Zagel said.
Defense attorney Sheldon Sorosky then complained that the judge was essentially denying Beavers his right to a defense.
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