ATLANTA - Court records show the FBI has been questioning family and friends of former City of Atlanta Chief Financial Officer Jim Beard.
Beard's attorney called the actions harassment and intimidation.
In 2019 we reported about the federal investigation of Mayor Kasim Reed's Chief Financial Officer Jim Beard. A federal subpoena requested records relating to guns linked to Jim Beard: a Glock 19 "assigned to Beard," as well as a Glock 43, AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, and a "Micro T-2 Sight"
"I have no earthly idea why those weapons were purchased," Councilman Howard Shook said at the time.
Now, according to a motion filed by Beard's attorney Scott Grubman, the FBI has "interviewed Mr. Beard’s minor son," his "22-year old step-daughter," as well as "numerous of Mr. Beard's friends," The FBI also seized "Mr. Beard’s wife’s cell phone."
Jessica Gabel Cino is a lawyer and a criminal justice professor at Georgia State University.
"This is a highly aggressive tactic to take especially involving someone’s children," said Gabel Cino.
Gabel Cino thinks prosecutors may be looking for the weakest link in the investigation.
"Now, they are going scorched earth mentality with family, friends, and children. I've had clients say that's where they draw the line in the sand. When prosecutors harass family members, they say 'Maybe I'll give them information,'" Gable Cino said.
In his motion, Beard's attorney said the FBI actions demonstrate a "clear pattern of harassment and intimidation designed not simply to seek the truth, but to destroy a life."
In 2018, the FOX 5 I-Team examined Beard's travel finding a disturbing pattern. We found he paid for first-class style plane tickets like a $9,519 flight to Beijing, and $14,732 business class flight and hotel to Amsterdam for two city employees.
He also had lavish hotel expenses, like $10,277 for the Shangri La in Paris.
In 2018, Beard repaid taxpayers for the Paris hotel after local news organizations requested the records through the open records.
The City Ethics Board investigated Beard's spending habits and ordered Beard to pay $18,700 fine and $84,322 in restitution for improper expenditures using a city credit card.
A federal grand jury later requested those same travel records. And according to the latest filing, the FBI has tried to talk to Beard's family.