Widow indicted on one accessory charge in Bluffton dog-group theft

sbowman@islandpacket.comSeptember 26, 2013 

The widow of a man accused of embezzling more than $10,000 from the Friends of Bluffton Dog Parks should stand trial as an accessory, the Beaufort County grand jury determined Thursday.

Amanda Mitchell-Grooms, 36, will face a charge of accessory after the fact to a felony, and is scheduled to appear in court today. A conviction could carry a sentence of up to five years in prison.

Attempts Thursday to reach her defense attorney were unsuccessful.

Mitchell-Grooms served as the dog group's treasurer during the time about $19,000 allegedly was stolen from the group by her late husband, William Grooms.

Grooms was ousted as the group's president after he was accused of stealing from it and was charged with breach of trust. He committed suicide July 14 at the couple's home in Bluffton.

At the time of his arrest, Grooms admitted stealing the money between June 2012 and June 2013 to pay for his gambling debts but said his wife was not involved, according to a Bluffton police report. Mitchell-Grooms said she had no knowledge of her husband's theft, according to the report.

Mitchell-Grooms volunteered as the group's treasurer in June 2012, the same month Grooms allegedly began stealing the money and a month after he and Mitchell-Grooms were married.

In the report, Mitchell-Grooms said she had trouble accessing the group's bank account to see the balance.

She was arrested June 25 and charged with two counts of accessory to the breach of trust, both before and after the fact. The charge of accessory before the fact was dropped at a hearing July 19. The remaining charge is a felony.

Follow reporter Sarah Bowman on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Sarah.

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