Prosecutor: Former Atlanta CFO stole money, had machine guns

City of Atlanta

ATLANTA — The former chief financial officer for the city of Atlanta has been charged in a federal indictment with crimes stemming from his time in office, including allegedly stealing tens of thousands of dollars from the city for personal expenses, federal prosecutors announced Wednesday.

A grand jury on Tuesday indicted Jim Beard on eight federal charges including wire fraud, theft from the government, possession of machine guns, making a false statement, and obstructing federal tax laws, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak.

Beard served as the city’s chief financial officer, managing Atlanta’s financial resources, from 2011 to 2018. An attorney listed as representing Beard in online court records, Scott Grubman, did not immediately return a message left with his office.

“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 in a statement.

Investigators say that, between August 2013 and March 2018, Beard used his position to defraud the city and obtain money and property for personal use.

In one instance, Beard is accused of using his city-issued credit card to charge more than $3,800 for hotel rooms in Chicago for his stepdaughter while she attended a music festival.

In another, officials said Beard ordered two custom-made machine guns, illegally took possession of them and then falsely certified they were for the Atlanta Police Department. It is illegal for anyone other than law enforcement or military personnel to have that type of weapon.

Beard is also accused of pocketing thousands of dollars in travel and conference expenses reimbursed by third parties that should have gone to the city.