Atlanta’s former chief financial officer Jimmie “Jim” A. Beard has been indicted on eight federal charges, including wire fraud, theft from the government, possession of machine guns, making a false statement and obstructing federal tax laws.
A grand jury charged Beard, 56, on eight federal charges, including wire fraud, federal program theft, possession of machine guns, making a false entry on a U.S. Government application, and obstructing the internal revenue laws.
Beard served as the CFO of Atlanta from November 2011 to May 2018. As CFO, Beard directed and managed the Department of Finance, where his “primary responsibility” was “the oversight and management of the City’s financial condition.”
In June 2012, Atlanta issued Beard a credit card for official Atlanta business-related purchases. The city required Beard to annually complete a Financial Disclosure Statement under penalty of perjury. In March 2014, Beard filed a Financial Disclosure Statement, on which Beard alleged that in 2013, he was not “self-employed or employed by any corporation, partnership, proprietorship, [or] other business entity besides the City of Atlanta.”
According to U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak, between August 2013 and March 2018, Beard “devised and executed” a scheme to defraud to obtain money and property from Atlanta for private use, including using city funds to pay for personal travel expenses for himself and companions and purchase two machine guns.
Beard ordered two custom-built machine guns that he caused to be delivered to Atlanta City Hall, after which Beard illegally took possession of the machine guns for his personal use – even though it was illegal for the machine guns to be possessed by anyone other than law enforcement and military personnel.
Beard then had the city of Atlanta issue a $2,641.90 check to pay for the machine guns. In connection with the purchase, Beard completed and submitted a U.S. Department of the Treasury tax exemption form, in which he falsely certified that the machine guns were for the exclusive use of the Atlanta Police Department.
Beard also used the money to pay for travel to conferences or meetings for which he would be reimbursed Beard.
Beard kept the money and did not return the reimbursement funds to Atlanta.
According to Pak, Beard also paid for travel that Beard subsequently claimed to the IRS were travel expenses related to his sole proprietorship consulting work that Beard never disclosed to Atlanta on any Financial Disclosure Statement.
“Jim Beard allegedly abused his position as one of the most powerful executives in the City of Atlanta to commit federal crimes for his own gain, including stealing tens of thousands of dollars of the public’s money, possessing machine guns that members of the public cannot have, and obstructing an IRS audit,” Pak said. “Those in government leadership positions have an obligation to set the organization’s culture for ethical conduct. As alleged by the Grand Jury, Beard fundamentally betrayed that obligation.”
In total, Beard allegedly defrauded the city of Atlanta out of tens of thousands of dollars.