GBI probes Columbus Fire Department; search warrants executed | News
COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM)- A probe into possible wrongdoing at the Columbus
Fire Department is now underway by the GBI.
Investigators spent most of the day
interviewing a dozen fire and EMS workers and confiscating public records.
Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson told
News Leader 9 Tuesday afternoon the investigation is ongoing. She did not
elaborate as to why or how long the probe has been going on.
However, News Leader 9 learned through other sources the probe started about a
month ago and investigators are interviewing about a dozen employees with
Columbus Fire and EMS.
An independent source informed us this
is all related to a deadly February 2010 daycare fire, when one-year-old Michael
Duvard was killed.
We also know this investigation is about
record keeping at the Columbus Fire Department.
GBI investigators used three words to
describe the allegations creating, maintaining and disseminating documents.
We do know District Attorney Julia
Slater requested the investigation about a month ago.
They called in 12 key people Tuesday and
asked them questions about the records in questions.
"This is public record and anytime
you're dealing with public records there may be any number of motives for
wanting to alter or change," said GBI special agent Wayne Smith. "I really
don't want to speculate because we don't know that anyone has done anything
wrong at that point."
Fire Chief Jeff Meyer also commented
about the investigation, saying he and the entire department were shocked by
the news. He was in Forsyth, Georgia at the training center when he got the
call Tuesday morning about the GBI.
He says he immediately packed up and came home and says the
department is fully cooperating with investigators.
We have also just learned about the possibility
of department workers falsifying documents relating to work hours and salary.
It's unclear how long the investigation will take.
Meanwhile, the District Attorney's
Office released the following statement:
"On Tuesday, February 12, 2013 GBI agents served a search warrant for
specific records and documentation maintained at Columbus Fire Department
Headquarters in Downtown Columbus, Georgia with the assistance of investigators
from the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit District Attorney's Office. Agents also
began conducting interviews with specific department employees and members of
the command staff.
These actions were taken as part of an ongoing GBI investigation being
conducted at the request of District Attorney Julia Slater. District Attorney
Slater requested GBI assistance after receiving information indicating that
department employees may have committed criminal acts involving the creation,
maintenance and accuracy of official reports and documents.
The search and interviews are part of an ongoing effort to establish what
occurred if criminal conduct was involved. The investigation is active and no
other information is being released at this time."
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