Columbus Man Sentenced To Federal Prison On Gun Charges

(COLUMBUS) – A Columbus man was sentenced to 41 months in federal prison after being convicted of charges including illegal firearms dealing.

The U.S. Attorney’s office in Indianapolis announced this week that 58-year-old William Beard sold or transferred more than 320 unlicensed firearms.

“Beard’s illegal activities introduced hundreds of firearms into the underground gun economy,” said Minkler. “At least twenty three of those guns were recovered from crime scenes in Indianapolis neighborhoods. This office will continue to investigate, arrest and prosecute those who illegally put guns on the streets of our district. Mr. Beard found that out today”

Starting in early 2013 and continuing through October 2017, Beard engaged in systematic unlicensed firearms dealing that resulted in the illegal sale or transfer of over 320 guns. Beard profited significantly from those illegal sales. 

On numerous occasions, Beard engaged in “multiple sale” transactions in which he bought multiple firearms on the same day or within several days of one another.

Over the course of four years between 2013 and 2017, Beard sold guns at locations including gun or trade shows and not once conducted a background check or completed the required ATF paperwork, required of a federal firearms licensee, according to a press release from U.S. Attorney Josh J. Minkler.

Investigators report 23 of the weapons Beard sold have been recovered from crime scenes including armed robberies and warrant searches for drugs.

Beard was convicted of charges of unlicensed firearms dealing and falsification of records in bankruptcy. Authorities say when Beard filed for bankruptcy, he failed to disclose his income from selling and trading the firearms and did not include the information that he had been indicted in federal court.

“Selling firearms illegally is just as much a crime as using them illegally,” stated Roland Herndon, Special Agent in Charge of ATF’s Columbus Field Division. “William Beard bought hundreds of firearms, and then sold them without a license. Several of those firearms later showed up in crimes. By diverting firearms from legal to illegal commerce, by helping certain individuals avoid records and background checks, Beard is responsible for fueling violence in our community. Now he will not be able to purchase firearms, and his role in feeding the violence is at an end.”

According to Assistant United States Attorneys Kendra Klump and Amanda Kester, who prosecuted this case for the government, Beard must also serve 2 years of supervised release following his sentence.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.