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

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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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