Former Augusta Fire Marshall set to begin serving Federal Court ordered sentence by end of June

Photo of Chief Jason Beard, with the Augusta Fire Department, who is on paid leave pending an external investigation.
Photo of Augusta Fire Chief Chris James

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Augusta-Richmond County’s former fire marshal Jason Beard was sentenced in federal court on Tuesday.

Augusta-Richmond County former Fire Marshall, Jason Beard, was sentenced in federal court on Tuesday.
Augusta-Richmond County former Fire Marshall, Jason Beard, was sentenced in federal court on Tuesday.

Beard will serve 3.5 years in prison and pay a $10,000 dollars fine. Plus a $100 fine for every count, totaling $700.

On October 8, 2015, he was indicted on six counts of extortion and one count of attempted extortion. Beard was fired on October 22, 2015.

Inside the courtroom, Judge Randy Hall said the decisions that public officials make set an example for Richmond County. Judge Hall said he doesn’t know why public officials stray away from the oath they take vowing to protect the citizens they serve.

After his sentencing Beard walked out of the courthouse, surrounded by his family, as a free man for the next 30 days. Lawyers for the state told the judge that Jason Beard showed no remorse during his trial. Yet on Tuesday, Beard was apologetic saying he believed his actions would not cause any harm to the citizens of Richmond County.

The Former Fire Marshall was investigated by the F.B.I. for accepting payments from nightclubs in the Augusta area. Prosecutors say Beard allowed the nightclubs to exceed the maximum capacity as long as the owners continued paying him off.

When he was interviewed by the F.B.I. Beard says he cooperated. He says at the time Richmond County was facing a shortage of manpower when it came to Fire Marshalls. But he said he didn’t feel there was any type of danger in the nightclubs.

On Tuesday, state lawyers said during F.B.I. interviews Beard admitted to investigators his decisions were quote “stupid and boneheaded.”

After learning of Beard’s sentence, the Augusta Fire Department released a statement saying,“Throughout the investigation and trial, members of the Augusta Fire Department have cooperated with law enforcement and the court system to the best of their ability. Since then, the Augusta Fire Department has recovered from this chapter and moved forward to provide the best protection for the citizens of Richmond County.”

WJBF News Channel 6 also reached out to Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis for comment on the former Fire Marshall’s conviction, Mayor Davis refusing to make a statement.

The judge said Beard’s actions that led to his convictions did not result in any accidents. He then ordered the former Fire Marshall to serve 42 months in prison and pay more than $10,000 dollars in fines.

Jason Beard will have to voluntarily surrender on June 30, 2016 by 10 p.m. to begin serving his sentence. Upon his release, Beard will be under a 3 year supervised release. Part of his probation is having a daily curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. He will be subject to urine test, cannot violate any laws, or own weapons.

Beard does have a right to file an appeal within 14 days.

Count on WJBF News Channel 6 to bring you the latest on this developing story. 

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