According to the U.S. Clerk’s Office in Asheville, Bishop pled guilty in federal court on Feb. 1 and was released on a $25,000 unsecured bond while awaiting sentencing. Bishop had to attend a status conference on Feb. 5 as part of her plea conditions, but failed a drug test. At that time, United States Magistrate Judge Dennis Howell rejected her previous guilty plea and revoked her bond.
Bishop was then taken into custody in Buncombe County until she appeared in court again Feb. 12 so she could once again plead guilty. She was again released on bond until her sentencing hearing, which has not yet been scheduled.
Kim Bishop resigned from her post as the county’s election director in May 2014 after the county administration was alerted to more than $70,000 of misappropriated funds in Bishop’s office from June 2013 to January 2014.
Bishop allegedly filed payment requests with the county for various outside contractors who were supposedly doing work for the board of elections. However, court records show the contractors never received the checks and Bishop took them and deposited them for herself.
An internal evaluation had Macon County rethinking its checks and balances to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again. For one thing, the signatures of election board members appeared to be forged on the payment requests. The contractors also didn’t submit a W9 tax form prior to the payment being dispersed, and 12 of the 37 checks in question didn’t have a stamp from accounts payable.
Instead of sending checks directly to the contractors, the finance office gave them back to Bishop to distribute. Lastly, the timing of the expenses should have raised some red flags because it’s unusual to need so much contract work during a quiet election year.
After a lengthy investigation, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations turned over a detailed report to District Attorney Ashley Welch at the end of January 2015. Welch then charged Bishop with five counts of felony embezzlement by an agent of local government. Bishop still faces state charges for embezzlement.