GBI probes Columbus Fire Department; search warrants executed - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

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GBI probes Columbus Fire Department; search warrants executed

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

A probe into possible wrongdoing at the ColumbusFire Department is now underway by the GBI.

Investigators spent most of the dayinterviewing a dozen fire and EMS workers and confiscating public records.

Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson toldNews Leader 9 Tuesday afternoon the investigation is ongoing. She did notelaborate as to why or how long the probe has been going on.

However, News Leader 9 learned through other sources the probe started about amonth ago and investigators are interviewing about a dozen employees withColumbus Fire and EMS. 

An independent source informed us thisis all related to a deadly February 2010 daycare fire, when one-year-old MichaelDuvard was killed.

We also know this investigation is aboutrecord keeping at the Columbus Fire Department.

GBI investigators used three words todescribe the allegations creating, maintaining and disseminating documents.

We do know District Attorney JuliaSlater requested the investigation about a month ago.

They called in 12 key people Tuesday andasked them questions about the records in questions.

"This is public record and anytimeyou're dealing with public records there may be any number of motives forwanting to alter or change," said GBI special agent Wayne Smith. "I reallydon't want to speculate because we don't know that anyone has done anythingwrong at that point."

Fire Chief Jeff Meyer also commentedabout the investigation, saying he and the entire department were shocked bythe news. He was in Forsyth, Georgia at the training center when he got thecall Tuesday morning about the GBI.

He says he immediately packed up and came home and says thedepartment is fully cooperating with investigators.

We have also just learned about the possibilityof department workers falsifying documents relating to work hours and salary.It's unclear how long the investigation will take.  

Meanwhile, the District Attorney'sOffice released the following statement: 

"On Tuesday, February 12, 2013 GBI agents served a search warrant forspecific records and documentation maintained at Columbus Fire DepartmentHeadquarters in Downtown Columbus, Georgia with the assistance of investigatorsfrom the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit District Attorney's Office. Agents alsobegan conducting interviews with specific department employees and members ofthe command staff. 

These actions were taken as part of an ongoing GBI investigation beingconducted at the request of District Attorney Julia Slater. District AttorneySlater requested GBI assistance after receiving information indicating thatdepartment 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 whatoccurred if criminal conduct was involved. The investigation is active and noother information is being released at this time." 

 

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