Jim Beard

ATLANTA – A former city of Atlanta chief financial officer (CFO) has pleaded guilty to federal program theft and obstructing an IRS audit.

Jim Beard, 60, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., oversaw the city’s Department of Finance from 2011 until 2018. At least as early as 2015, he devised and executed a scheme to use his authority as CFO to obtain money and property from the city for his own use, including to pay for thousands of dollars in personal travel expenses for himself, his family, and his travel companions, and to buy and possess restricted machine guns.

According to court records, Beard also submitted a 2013 personal income tax return to the IRS in which he claimed he operated a personal business that incurred more than $33,500 in alleged losses in 2013.

In 2015, while being audited in relation to those purported losses, he provided to the IRS receipts for airfare and hotels that he falsely claimed were personal business expenses. The expenses were actually paid to Beard while working for the city and using a city-issued credit card.

Beard faces a maximum of 13 years in prison. A judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Monday’s announcement of Beard’s guilty plea came from Nicole Argentieri, head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, and U.S. Attorney Ryan Buchanan for the Northern District of Georgia.

The FBI and the IRS investigated the case. Sentencing is set for July.