The former chief financial officer for the City of Atlanta is in hot water this week for allegedly possessing illegal machine guns.
Jimmie “Jim” A. Beard, who served under Mayor Kasim Reed for approximately six and a half years, is facing a slew of charges that include wire fraud, theft from the government, making a false statement, obstructing federal tax laws, and possession of machine guns, according to federal prosecutors.
“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,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak in a statement released Wednesday.
“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,” he continued.
Beard allegedly ordered two custom-built machine guns to be delivered to Atlanta City Hall and paid with them using taxpayer funds to the tune of $2,641.90. On a U.S. Department of the Treasury tax exemption form, the CFO claimed they were for the exclusive use of the Atlanta Police Department.
However, investigators claim that Beard kept them for personal use.
Unless one is a federal firearms licensee (FFL) and a special occupational taxpayer (SOT) it is a federal crime for a civilian to possess a machine-gun made after 1986. (For a civilian to lawfully possess a machine gun made prior to 1986, it must be registered under the National Firearms Act.)
Beard, who has been under the microscope for well over a year, has denied any wrongdoing during his stint as the city’s chief financial officer.
“After over a year of overturning every rock and sorting through every haystack, the government has been unable to uncover one single piece of evidence against Mr. Beard,” Scott Grubman, an attorney for Beard, told local news affiliate 11Alive in June of 2019.
In addition to the machine gun allegation, Beard is accused of defrauding the City of Atlanta in the following ways:
• Beard’s City of Atlanta credit card was used to pay more than $3,800 for hotel rooms at the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Chicago for use by Beard’s step-daughter while attending the Lollapalooza Music Festival in 2015 and 2016, though Beard was not even in Chicago.
• Beard’s City of Atlanta credit card was used to pay more than $1,350 for a hotel room at the St. Regis Hotel in Atlanta, including $200 per night for an upgraded room, $70 for private dining, and $80 for rose-petal turndown service, even though: Beard lived in Atlanta; Beard’s wife flew from Florida to stay at the hotel with him; and Beard’s work calendar listed the notation “Do Not Schedule – PTO,” (a common initialism for “Paid Time Off”) during one of the days that Beard and his wife stayed at the hotel.
• Beard kept thousands of dollars paid by third parties to reimburse Beard for travel related expenses to attend conferences and meetings, even though the City of Atlanta paid for Beard’s travel, and Beard never filed Travel Disclosure Reports to notify the City of Atlanta that the reimbursements had been paid.
All in all in appears Beard has some explaining to do. Presumably, he’ll have his day in court soon. Stay tuned for updates.