Augusta, GA. – Augusta Fire Marshal Jason Beard is under fire.
The man hired to enforce fire safety codes is accused of using his position to extort money.
This seven page indictment claims, from June 2014 to January 2015, Beard demanded cash payments from nightclub owners and managers. It accuses him of threatening to enforce public safety and fire regulations in their overcrowded nightclubs if they didn’t pay up. The indictment reads that if these club owners paid, Beard would allow them to stay open beyond capacity, putting lives in danger.
The indictment gives only the initials of two people Beard is accused of doing this with. The U.S. Attorney’s Office says someone with the initials E.K. paid Beard six different times. Beard is accused of trying to extort money from a person with the initials H.G, Jr.
The indictment doesn’t list the names of the clubs. Beard faces seven counts of extortion and attempted extortion. If found guilty, he could get up to 20 years, per count, in federal prison.
There is no word on when Beard is expected to be in court.
The Augusta Fire Departmen, though, is moving on. Captain John Caran is taking over duties as Fire Marshal, but he is not the interim Fire Marshal. The department is waiting on the city’s Human Resources Department to make a decision on Beard’s employment status.