Originally published March 10, 2009.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has talked with the FBI about an inquiry into the Muscogee County Marshal’s Office, GBI Special Agent in Charge Rodney Wall said Monday,
The FBI, though, is not active in the inquiry, Wall said.
The GBI began the inquiry more than a week ago when it was discovered that the stepdaughter of U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany, was working in a program that received federal funding Bishop helped secure. Aayesha Reese was on the payroll for the Junior Marshal Program from September until February, being paid $7,575.
Reese, who lives in Lithonia, Ga., and is the daughter of Municipal Court Clerk Vivian Creighton Bishop, also works full time for the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office.
Reese’s employment status was questioned after a Feb. 19 payroll audit of the Marshal’s Office when the city’s internal auditor, John Redmond, became suspicious that she could work in both locations, almost 100 miles apart.
The auditor later found Reese’s husband, Stephen M. Reese, was on the payroll for the Junior Marshal’s Program from November 2007 until July 2008. More than $7,275 paid to Stephen Reese was deposited into Creighton Bishop’s checking account at Columbus Bank & Trust Co., according to records on file with the city’s Human Resources Department.
The city has turned over its findings to the GBI.
“The FBI is aware of it, but there is not a criminal investigation at this time,” Wall said.
Donnie Green, supervisor of the FBI’s Columbus field office, referred all questions back to the GBI Monday.
Bishop said last week he did not know his stepdaughter was employed in the program until he was told one day after the audit. The Junior Marshal Program, which helps mentor middle school students and is funded by a combination of public and private funds, received a $118,000 federal grant last year.
In a Feb. 24 letter to Marshal Greg Countryman, Bishop asked his stepdaughter be terminated. She is no longer being paid, according to Human Resources Director Tom Barron.
Stephen Reese, reached last week at his job as a security guard at Redan High School in Stone Mountain, Ga., declined to comment. Aayesha Reese has not returned messages left on her voicemail at the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office.
Creighton Bishop has issued a statement saying she has been advised not to comment until the “GBI investigation is concluded.”
The inquiry is in the interview stage and Wall gave no timetable for its completion.