Alumni Treasuer sentenced to 24 months in Mizzou embezzlement case

Kirksville businessman Burt Beard received a 24-month sentence Monday in U.S. District Court in Jefferson City following his guilty plea in a bank fraud case.

Kirksville businessman Burt Beard received a 24-month sentence Monday in U.S. District Court in Jefferson City following his guilty plea in a bank fraud case.

Beard admitted in September to embezzling $380,000 from a University of Missouri fraternity while he was serving as volunteer treasurer.

The U.S. government had sought a 33-month sentence for Beard, while Beard’s attorney recommended a sentence of 12 months and one day.

U.S. District Judge Stephen R. Bough came down in the middle, ordering a 24-month sentence, three years probation and an order of restitution for $380,502 to the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Club of Missouri.

“I would like to thank the Kirksville community for the love and the support they have shown my family during this difficult time,” Beard told the Daily Express in a statement.

“I will stand up and take my punishment with dignity and there will be a day when I return to Kirksville and hope that I can repay the generosity and love that I have been shown in the past.”

Beard will report for his sentence March 5. The United States Bureau of Prisons will determine where he will be incarcerated. Judge Bough recommended Beard be sent to the Federal Prison Camp in Marion, Ill.

Beard, one of the owners of Beard’s Decorating Center, admitted in September to defrauding the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at the University of Missouri of more than $380,000. Acting as volunteer treasurer, he wrote himself more than 150 checks from 2008 to 2014, claiming they were “reimbursement of personal loans to SAE for direct payment to vendors by himself.”

When a new slate of officers was elected in fall 2014 and the transition began from Beard to a new treasurer, evidence of the fraud began to emerge. The new treasurer attempted to verify banking activity and found several inconsistencies.

The fraternity then hired a forensic accounting company and an investigation followed. Beard was unable to substantiate the loans he claimed he made to the fraternity. The company attempted to track down vendors Beard claimed he had worked with, but was unable to find most of them. Others were out of state or did not sell the products or services that were claimed.

In a filing in early January, the government recommended Beard be sentenced to 33 months incarceration.

“Beard has no criminal history,” the documents state. “However, the current offense took place over at least seven years, which was as far back of an inquiry as the bank records allowed.

“Additionally, Beard’s personal history and characteristics do not support any mitigating factors.

“The Government believes that a sentence of 33 months will deter Beard from embezzlement or theft in the future.”

In a filing a few days later, Beard’s attorney, James R. Hobbs, requested a sentence of 12 months and one day.

“Mr. Beard’s remorse for his actions is palpable. He knows the harm he has caused to his former clients, family, loved ones and friends,” the filing states. “He has not, however, allowed the emotional weight of his situation to win out over his resolve to be productive in his community.”

The filing referred to letters of support written to the court about Beard. While the filing does not specifically identify the authors, it refers to them as Beard’s wife, the executive director of the United Way of Adair County/Northeast Missouri, Beard’s minister, and a friend who is a Truman State University professor.

Editors note: My fraternity Phi Kappa Theta has a chapter at the University of Missouri

http://www.kirksvilledailyexpress.com/news/20180122/beard-sentenced-to-24-months-in-mizzou-embezzlement-case

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