Bishop, 44, of Franklin, was also ordered to serve three years of supervised release, the first six months of which to be served under home detention, and to pay $68,705.26 as restitution, according to Westmoreland Rose, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.
“Bishop abused the trust placed in her by the public. As a director on the Board of Elections, Bishop stole public money to enrich herself and her lifestyle. She is now a federally convicted felon, a title she earned through her greed and theft,” Rose stated in a press release. “Federal laws are very effective in addressing this type of corruption — let this be a message to other elected officials who may seek to violate the public’s trust through illegal activity.”
Bishop served as director of the Board of Elections from 2002 to January 2014. In that capacity, she had access to the board’s expense budget and was authorized to initiate check requests to pay for elections-related services. Beginning in about June 2013 and continuing through January 2014, court records show that Bishop submitted check request forms for checks to be issued to four individuals to supposedly pay for their work on behalf of the elections office. However, the board never approved these four individuals as election workers and they were not on the county’s payroll.
Bishop has admitted in court that in order to cash these checks, on some occasions she forged the endorsement signature of the payee and signed her own name on the back of the checks, then cashed them at local financial institutions. On other occasions, court records show that two of the named payees would sign their names as endorsers, cash the checks and split the money with the defendant.
In total, Bishop’s embezzlement scheme caused Macon County to issue checks for over $68,000. Bishop pleaded guilty in February 2016 to one count of federal program fraud.
“This was a complex investigation that took teamwork, from both the SBI and FBI, to accomplish a positive outcome. We have built a strong relationship with the FBI, and enjoy the partnership developed with investigating public corruption cases,” said SBI Special Agent Tom Ammons in a press release. “Our goal for this investigation was to ensure that justice was served so the community knew this type of behavior by a leader within the county would not be tolerated.”