Catoosa County Sheriff Gary Sisk said Wednesday it is up to the federal government to investigate FBI Agt. Ken Hillman, not his office. Attorney McCracken Poston responded by saying citizens should continue to push for answers on the handling of the case from the sheriff's office.
Authorities said Agt. Hillman was not charged with DUI at Ringgold's Acoustic Cafe, but was taken to Chattanooga by a Ringgold Police sergeant along with the estranged wife of Chattanooga businessman Emerson Russell and her daughter.
The police sergeant was fired.
Sheriff Sisk said, "The Catoosa County Sheriff's Office received a request on Feb. 22, from local attorney McCracken Poston to "invite the Georgia Bureau of Investigations to look into matters" involving Federal Agent Ken Hillman of the FBI.
"These matters have to do with alleged indiscretions, policy and procedural violations involving Agent Hillman and Mr. Poston's client's soon-to-be ex-wife.
"Mr. Poston did not allege any wrong-doing involving employees of the Catoosa County Sheriff's Office.
"Any issues Mr. Poston may have with Agent Hillman should be addressed with the Federal Bureau of Investigations.
"It is my understanding that they are conducting an internal investigation at his request. Neither the Catoosa County Sheriff's Office nor the Georgia Bureau of Investigations investigate policy and or procedural violations of Federal Agents or get involved in civil divorce cases. I do not feel this is a wise expense of the taxpayers' money when it does not affect the duty of my office."
"The Sheriff's Office will fully cooperate with the FBI's internal investigation when and if the time comes."
Attorney Poston said, "Once again, I am not the attorney of record for Emerson Russell. R. Kevin Silvey is his attorney.
"The matters requested of the Sheriff to review happened long before Agent Ken Hillman even knew the Russell family, and have nothing to do with any divorce action. The matters requested of the Sheriff to review are the decisions and actions of his department on how it conducted itself after a series of traffic stops that involved a federal agent.
"It is a clever ploy to try to cast these issues in the light of a divorce case, but as I said, these issues involve our Sheriff's department's actions, inactions and decisions long before the agent at issue met any of the Russells.
"While the FBI has in fact conducted a preliminary investigation of Ken Hillman, the FBI will have no jurisdiction in the issue of the actions of the Catoosa County Sheriff's Department. Any series of decisions by our Sheriff's Department to authorize multiple suspected DUI stops on the same individual to become courtesy taxi services for the suspect are decisions that the taxpayers of Catoosa County would like to look into. Of course, Sheriff Sisk was a high-ranking officer in the previous administration when these questionable decisions were made. I have no idea if he knew about them at the time, but his reluctance to conduct his office with transparency is troubling.
"I'm sure the Sheriff either knows or has at least done some level of inquiry in his own department. I think he should answer a few simple questions:
"1) Was his department involved in traffic stops of FBI Agent Ken Hillman? When, and what were the nature of those stops?
"2) What was the response of the Sheriff's Department to those stops? Who made the ultimate decisions?
"3) Was a federal agent allowed to 'phone a friend' or was another person allowed to come pick up the agent to keep him from continuing to drive?
"4) Was a federal agent allowed to continue driving after a traffic stop when there was evidence that he should not have been allowed to continue driving?
"The citizens deserve to have confidence in their government, and because of the diversion tactics used today they will now go without the assurances that a review by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation could have given them.
"I am a citizen and taxpayer in Catoosa County. I do not think I am alone in wanting these questions answered."