Shortly after embattled Cook County Commissioner William Beavers pleaded not guilty to tax fraud charges Friday, he lashed out against U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, the prosecutor whom Beavers claimed is a "wild man" responsible for the suicide of three men.
Beavers addressed reporters in the lobby of the Dirksen federal building after his brief arraignment hearing Friday and accused Fitzgerald of using "Gestapo-type tactics" in alleged investigations involving three men who later killed themselves, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
"Let me tell you about this federal prosecutor. This man is like a wild man on a train, and somebody needs to stop him," Beavers said of Fitzgerald, according to the Sun-Times. "He has caused three deaths -- Michael Scott, Orlando Jones and Chris Kelly -- with these Gestapo-type tactics that he used to try to make them tell on their friends."
(Scroll down to watch Beavers discuss Fitzgerald.)
The Chicago Tribune reports, however, that only Kelly, once an advisor and fundraiser for former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, was known to have been under federal investigation in Chicago. Kelly took his life in the fall of 2009, days before he was set to begin a prison sentence of up to eight years for fraud convictions.
A Fitzgerald spokesman declined to respond to Beavers' "wild man" comments, according to the Tribune.
Meanwhile, Beavers, 77, reiterated Friday, according to the Associated Press, that he "does not owe the government any money; no taxes. And I do not owe my (campaign) committee any money, is that understood?"
His defense attorney Sam Adam Jr., who was on Blagojevich's defense team for a time, added of his client that "he is out here telling the truth and he will be vindicated," CBS Chicago reports.
Beavers, a long-time proponent of Chicago's Democrat-dominated "machine-style" politics, was indicted late last month on allegations that he paid himself $225,000 from his campaign funds without reporting that income. He also allegedly obstructed the Internal Revenue Service's investigation into the matter.
The commissioner and former Chicago alderman has claimed that he was indicted because he refused to "wear a wire" on colleague and the former mayor's brother John Daley, who has denied that he is under federal investigation.
Last week, Beavers said that he did not "give a f**k" about Fitzgerald.
If convicted, Beavers faces a sentence of up to three years in prison, plus a $250,000 fine for each of the four charges he faces. He is next due in court April 6 and has vowed to continue to serve on the Cook County Board, according to ABC Chicago.
WATCH Beavers address the tax fraud allegations he faces: