Ex-Top Atlanta Official Pleads Guilty to Stealing City Funds for Personal Use

On April 8th, the former Atlanta chief financial officer (CFO) pled guilty to using public funds for private trips and firearms while attempting to evade federal income tax authorities.

In Atlanta federal court, Jim Beard (60) admitted to stealing from a government program and obstructing taxes.

The sentencing hearing for Beard is set for July 12 before U.S. District Judge Steve Jones. Federal standards indicate that Beard will likely get a significantly reduced term, even though he faces a maximum of thirteen years in jail.

From 2011 to 2018, Beard oversaw Atlanta’s financial resources as the city’s chief financial officer, working under Mayor Kasim Reed. In an anti-corruption investigation of Reed’s government, Beard becomes the tenth person to be found guilty. Bribery in connection with municipal contracts was the primary basis for the convictions of most others. Reed has evaded prosecution on all counts.

According to his plea deal, Beard admits that while in office, he misused municipal funds to fund personal travels and unlawfully purchased two machine weapons for himself.

Although Beard admitted to theft of $5,000 from the city, federal prosecutors said he took thousands of dollars.

Among his expenses are $1,200 for a Chicago hotel for his stepdaughter and the $648 cost of plane tickets to a New Orleans music festival. He claimed the money as a tax deduction for his consulting firm.

Beard acknowledged purchasing two machine guns built to order from Daniel Defense in Georgia for $2,641.90, using a municipal check. Even though individuals are prohibited from carrying machine guns in the United States, Beard maintained the firearms until 2017.  He then gave them to the police department office that oversees the mayor’s security.

On his tax forms, Beard deducted $12,000 worth of business travel expenditures he never paid for in 2013. He also claimed $33,000 in loss from his consulting firm.

Additionally, Beard bilked the city out of almost $1,000 in travel costs to a meeting in New York with a bond regulating body, only to have the same organization pay him back $1,276.52.

Beard gives up his right to own firearms and will reimburse multiple parties.

The sentencing hearing for Beard is set for July 12 before U.S. District Judge Steve Jones. Beard faces a maximum of thirteen years in prison, but according to federal standards, his sentence will probably be much less.