Former Atlanta CFO asks judge to vacate ethics fine

Former Atlanta Chief Financial Officer Jim Beard is appealing what is believed to be the largest combination of fines and restitution ever issued in the history of the city’s ethics office.

In December, the city’s Board of Ethics and Independent Compliance ordered Beard to pay a $18,700 fine and $84,322 in restitution for improper purchases made with his city-issued credit card during his tenure as chief financial officer.

Beard’s lawyer, in a state court petition dated Wednesday, argues that the ethics board didn’t have jurisdiction over the matter because Beard wasn’t charged with the violations until seven months after he left office.

The petition asks the court to vacate the ethics board’s decision.

The petition also says that the city destroyed key documents that would have allowed Beard to defend himself when it erased the information from his computer’s hard drive to re-purpose it.

The ethics board rejected both arguments last year, saying that if Beard’s attorney was correct, any employee could avoid being held accountable for ethics violations by simply resigning. The board said the documents on Beard’s hard drive had been retained in the city’s cloud software and he could obtain them through a public records request.

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