Talbot Co. Interim Sheriff responds to 3 officers, jailer arrest - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Talbot Co. Interim Sheriff responds to 3 officers, jailer arrested

By Mackenzie Patterson - bioemail

TALBOTTON, GA - It shocked Talbot County Interim Sheriff Tom Wimberly to hear that FBI agents arrested 4 law enforcement officials in Talbot County, including 3 of his employees. The arrests on extortion happened Wednesday morning.

"It hit me in the face, and I didn't have an idea what was going on.  You know I saw all the law enforcement out there.  I thought something really bad had happened which it had," said Wimberly.

The Interim Sheriff said he got to work right away making sure that he is not down a hand.  After the arrests, he has 4 deputies on the street, but is looking for replacements for the full-time deputy and part-time deputy he no longer employs.

"I'm in the process of hiring two people and as we speak I've hired one, and I'm going to try to hire another one tomorrow," said Wimberly.

Representatives from the U.S. Attorney's Office, FBI, GBI, and DEA explained that a drug trafficking investigation in 2009 uncovered that Jeff Sivell, Charlie Stephens and Alvin Malone were allegedly abusing their powers.

"An undercover operation in this case conducted by federal agents revealed that these defendants were extorting money from individuals by wrongful use of acts with threat in force, violence, and fear under color of official right," said Michael Moore the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia.

Prosecutors said a fourth suspect is jailer Mike Gamble, employed by the Talbot County Sheriff and working as a processor for Talbot County courts.  He is now facing state bribery charges.

All this news hits close to home for the Interim Sheriff.  One of the suspects, Sivell, is his son-in-law, and Wimberly said he will not stand by him or his other two arrested employees if they are guilty.

"I'm glad to see the FBI come in and do an investigation and give out county a decent name because we're not supposed to be that way," said Wimberly.

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