Beaufort box-office manager accused of stealing $98,000

A former box office manager has been charged with stealing more than $98,000 from Beaufort Performing Arts Inc. over the last two years.

Beaufort police arrested Stacy Whitmore on Saturday and charged her with breach of trust with fraudulent intent for writing checks totaling $98,748 to herself from the organization's accounts. Whitmore is being held at the Beaufort County Detention Center on $200,000 bail.

Beaufort Performing Arts was founded in 2003 to encourage cultural and economic development within the city of Beaufort and Beaufort County by using the University of South Carolina Beaufort's performing arts center.

Employees performing an internal audit noticed a number of suspicious checks that had been written by Whitmore from the organization's business account, according to police. The amount of money Whitmore had stolen was significant because the organization's operation budget this year was only about $525,000, according to Alan Runyan, chairman of the board of directors.

The organization's board of directors fired Whitmore and contacted the Police Department to conduct an investigation, which found Whitmore had been writing checks for her own use since August 2006, said department spokesman Maj. Matt Clancy.

Runyan said new measures taken by the board will make it easier to detect fraud.

"The board is committed to its stewardship role," Runyan said.