Former board of elections director Bishop labeled fugitive after failing to turn herself in


Nearly two years after word broke that Macon County’s Board of Elections office was under investigation for embezzlement, charges were officially filed on Monday. On Wednesday, Macon County Sheriff Robert Holland declared former Board of Elections Director Kim Bishop as a “wanted fugitive” after she failed to turn herself in to the Macon County Detention Center after warrants were issued and charges were filed against her.
A True Bill of Indictment and Order of Arrest was issued on Monday for five counts of felony attempted embezzlement by a local employee.
“We have communicated with her attorney and originally gave them a deadline of yesterday and another for this morning,” said Sheriff Robert Holland. “Because they did not adhere to our request, the decision was made to release indictments and list her as ‘wanted.’ Bishop has cooperated with the investigation that has been ongoing for an extended period of time. The suspect has children and she is not considered to be a threat to the community. For those reasons, we allowed her the opportunity to make the appropriate arrangements to turn herself in. While we usually don’t serve indictments in this manner, it is not uncommon to do so when investigations involve suspects with children. We do not want to cause any unnecessary drama for the children involved. We did our part, now it is up to her and her attorney to do theirs. I made her attorney aware of the fact that they had until 11 a.m. on Wednesday. We informed her attorney that if she did not show, she will be considered a wanted fugitive and that we will make every effort to make the arrest.”
In January 2014, shortly after Derek Roland was hired as the new county manager, a tipster alerted him of inconsistencies in funding reports at the board of elections. Roland immediately contacted the Sheriff’s Office who recommended the elections office be locked down the office and a call be made requesting assistance from the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations.
After a thorough investigation, the SBI found a paper trail indicating more than $50,000 had been embezzled on the course of a few years and nearly 40 checks of county dollars that Bishop authorized and distributed. According to investigation reports, Bishop wrote checks to pay for contracted workers or part-time employees who were never actually in county records as being employed.
Bishop was promptly removed from her post as director and Debbie George, who has worked for the Board of Elections since 2003, was appointed as her replacement. During the investigation, Bishop didn’t comment on specifics of the case but said she wasn’t aware of why she was removed or what they were investigating.
The case landed on the desk of District Attorney Ashley Welch nearly a year after the initial investigation was launched, and after another year of investigation, interviews, and evidence gathering, charges were filed on Tuesday.
The investigation escalated further last year when the Federal Bureau of Investigation became involved. Generally, the FBI rarely becomes involved in SBI cases. In 2014, the SBI opened 2,528 cases and the FBI only became involved in 79 of them, 13 of which involved embezzlement or other types of financial crimes.
“I know it seems like this has been a long investigation, and that is because it has been,” said Sheriff Holland. “The SBI, assisted by the MCSO, were very thorough in their investigation. While some might want to simply see people arrested for the crimes they are accused of, I, on the other hand believe in thorough investigations. I’m confident our prosecutor will indeed receive a thorough investigation to prosecute with an outcome that will show investigators professionally conducted a complete and in-depth investigation.”
Commission Chair Kevin Corbin noted that throughout the investigation, county officials have been contacted several times about the investigation.
“We are glad to see this process moving forward and commend the Sheriff’s Department, the State Bureau of Investigation, and the District Attorney’s office for their in depth, thorough investigation,” said Corbin. “It has been frustrating for us not being able to answer questions asked by us, but the reality is that from the time the county was made aware of the situation until the True Bill of Indictment was issued, it was out of our hands.”
Once arrested, Bishop’s first court date on the matter is scheduled for 10 a.m. on March 21.