Ex-president of Bluffton dog park group released from jail

astice@islandpacket.comJune 12, 2013 

A former president of the Friends of Bluffton Dog Parks has been released from the Beaufort County Detention Center on a $15,000 personal-recognizance bond, according to the jail log.

William Grooms, 42, is charged with breach of trust for allegedly depleting the group's account of more than $10,000 over the past year, according to Bluffton police.

Police say Grooms used his signing authority over the group's bank account to steal and spend the money, and that he acted alone.

Friends of Bluffton Dog Parks called an emergency meeting Thursday after discovering the missing donations and voted to oust Grooms. They also removed his wife, treasurer Amanda Mitchell-Grooms, even though members and police do not suspect she was involved.

Grooms became president of the organization in 2011, when members voted in an almost entirely new board of directors, said Abby Bird, a local dog trainer who also sits on the board. The group, which had been attempting to build a Bluffton dog park since 2004, was looking for members with fresh fundraising ideas, Bird said.

Grooms "worked very hard" to get the nonprofit to the next level, said board member Jennifer Megliore. He helped secure space for a future dog park in Buckwalter Regional Park by signing an agreement with the town and Beaufort County soon after becoming president.

Other board members say they are not yet sure whether the group will fold or start fundraising again. Friends of Bluffton Dog Parks is vying once again this year for prize money in the PetSafe Bark for Your Park Contest, which gives $100,000 for a dog park to the town with the most online votes. It was a finalist for the award in 2012.

Check back on islandpacket.com soon for more on this developing story. Follow reporter Allison Stice at twitter.com/IPBG_Allison.

Related content:

Bluffton dog park group's president charged with stealing money, June 12, 2013

Beaufort, Bluffton vie for as much as $100,000 to build dog parks, May 21, 2013

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