City receives $84,000 from insurance company for ex-CFO’s improper spending

Former Atlanta CFO Jim Beard

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Former Atlanta CFO Jim Beard

Former CFO Jim Beard used city-issued credit card improperly on travel, restaurants

An insurance company wrote the city of Atlanta a check for $84,000 earlier this month to pay restitution ordered against former Atlanta Chief Financial Officer Jim Beard for improper use of his city-issued credit card.

Beard, who was CFO for most of former Mayor Kasim Reed’s two terms in office, was accused in 2019 by the Atlanta Ethics Division of making nearly $150,000 in improper charges to his taxpayer-backed credit card from 2014-18.

The Atlanta Governing Board ultimately ordered Beard to pay back more than $100,000, finding a portion of his expenses were related to city businesses, or were already repaid.

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Atlanta Ethics Officer Jabu Sengova told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Beard appealed the Governing Board’s administrative ruling in the Fulton County Superior Court, Georgia Court of Appeals and the Georgia Supreme Court.

But Sengova said Tuesday that Beard lost those appeals, and the Ethics Division received $84,537 in March from the SureTech Insurance Company on the appeal bond, which satisfied the restitution in the case.

“We’ve never been able to collect on a sanction of this amount in the history of the ethics office,” said Sengova, who credited attorney Tres Indermark for representing the city in this matter.

The amount given to the city was a little more than the amount Beard was ordered to pay in restitution, which was $84,322, Sengova said. She said the Governing Board’s attorney delivered the check to the Ethics Division on April 5, and the check was deposited into the city’s General Fund account.

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“We do not anticipate collecting the remaining $18,485 in sanctions and the Beard matter is hereby now closed,” Sengova said via email.

The Atlanta Ethics Division filed its complaint after the AJC and Channel 2 Action News reported in 2018 that Beard, Reed and members of Reed’s cabinet racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in questionable charges on airfare, luxury hotels and high-end restaurants across the globe.

Federal investigators have also scrutinized travel and other spending records at City Hall as part of a multi-year corruption investigation. Beard is now under federal indictment for fraud and weapons charges, and has pleaded not guilty.