ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Kimberly Michelle Bishop, the former director of Macon County’s Board of Elections was sentenced late yesterday to six months in prison for embezzling public funds, announced Jill Westmoreland Rose, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Bishop, 44, of Franklin, N.C., was also ordered to serve three years of supervised release, the first six months of which to be served under home detention, and to pay $68,705.26 as restitution.
U.S. Attorney Rose is joined by John A. Strong, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Charlotte Division, and Tom Ammons, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) in making today’s announcement.
“Bishop abused the trust placed in her by the public. As a director on the Board of Elections, Bishop stole public money to enrich herself and her lifestyle. She is now a federally convicted felon, a title she earned through her greed and theft. Federal laws are very effective in addressing this type of corruption - let this be a message to other elected officials who may seek to violate the public’s trust through illegal activity,” said U.S. Attorney Rose.
“This was a complex investigation that took teamwork, from both the SBI and FBI, to accomplish a positive outcome. We have built a strong relationship with the FBI, and enjoy the partnership developed with investigating public corruption cases. Our goal for this investigation was to ensure that justice was served so the community knew this type of behavior by a leader within the county would not be tolerated,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Ammons.
According to information contained in filed plea documents and the sentencing hearing, from about 2002 to January 2014, Bishop served as director of the Board of Elections (BOE) for Macon County. In that capacity, Bishop had access to BOE’s expense budget and was authorized to initiate check requests to pay for BOE-related services. Beginning in about June 2013 and continuing through January 2014, court records show that Bishop submitted check request forms and caused checks to be issued to four individuals to supposedly pay for their work on behalf of BOE. BOE had not, in fact, approved these four individuals as BOE workers and they were not on the county’s payroll.
Bishop has admitted in court that in order to cash these checks, on some occasions she forged the endorsement signature of the payee and signed her own name on the back of the checks, then cashed them at local financial institutions. On other occasions, court records show that two of the named payees would sign their names as endorsers, cash the checks and split the money with the defendant. In total, Bishop’s embezzlement scheme caused Macon County to issue checks for over $68,000. Bishop pleaded guilty in February 2016 to one count of federal program fraud.
In making today’s announcement U.S. Attorney Rose thanked the FBI and the SBI for their investigation of this case which is ongoing. The prosecution was handled by Assistant United States Attorney Richard Edwards of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Asheville.