Former ATL CFO corruption trial delayed to May 15

By David Pendered

Jan. 24 – The federal corruption trial of a former CFO for the City of Atlanta has been postponed again, this time from Feb. 12 to May 15. Defendant Jim Beard requested the 90-day delay.

Beard faces an eight-count indictment that a federal grand jury handed down on Sept. 15, 2020 in U.S. District Court in Atlanta. Beard served in the administration of then Mayor Kasim Reed.

Jim Beard, former Atlanta CFO

The defense team sought the delay to review 11,184,314 files released to them by prosecutors in June 2023. It took more than 32 days to download the files from a drive, according to the motion to delay the trial.

Prosecutors didn’t oppose the motion to continue. They did note that the defense lawyers have had since October 2020 to review materials. Neither Beard nor the defense team did that, according to the prosecutors’ motion, which reads:

  • “As part of that production, three subsequent productions, and a pre-trial letter, the United States identified documents in its possession from several separate investigations and cases relating to the City of Atlanta. (Id.). Rather than produce the records – which are not subject to Rule 16 and contain no apparent Brady material as to Beard, but include sensitive materials – the United States made the records from those cases and investigations available to Beard for inspection and review. (Id.).
  • “For three full years, those records have been available for review at the U.S. Attorney’s Office – not the FBI’s office – in electronic and searchable format where Beard may review them unsupervised. (Id.).
  • “Beard has not availed himself of the United States’ offer.”

One indication that the trial may be imminent is the juror questionnaire the judge released Jan. 8. The form has 67 questions, including one asking if a prospective juror could be impartial. This question begins with a recitation of charges:

  • “This case involves allegations that former City of Atlanta Chief Financial Officer Jimmie “Jim” Beard used his City of Atlanta credit card to pay for personal expenses, including the purchase of two machine guns.
  • “Mr. Beard is also alleged to have submitted false records and information to the IRS during an audit of Mr. Beard’s taxes. Mr. Beard has been charged with wire fraud, federal program theft, possession of machine guns, making a false entry on a firearm application, and obstructing the internal revenue law.
  • “Mr. Beard has pleaded not guilty to all these charges.”

U.S. District Court Judge Steve C. Jones set the trial date of May 15 in an order dated Dec. 18.