Home Again - MichelleGwynnJones.com - NewGraceNews.comby B J BECKHAM

Yesterday Anita Woods was returned to New Grace from Jacksonville, Florida and was formally charged with embezzlement for absconding with over $25,000 from the Youth Mission Fund of Shiloh Presbyterian Church in Godfrey. Ms. Wood fled New Grace minutes before Sheriff Ozell ‘Ottis’ Keith obtained a warrant for her arrest.

Anita Woods is a graduate of USC, Columbia with a bachelor degree in finance and received an MBA from Furman University. She became a certified public accountant in 2005. She has been the CFO at the church since 2009.  Ms. Woods was earning $32,000 a year.

Christopher Wright, President of the Church Council told me the church was planning new construction and contracted for an independent audit as part of the loan process.  Shortly after that announcement Ms. Woods called in sick and was unreachable. No connection to Ms. Woods was made until the audit discovered losses and inconsistencies in the Youth Mission Fund. All attempts to contact Ms Woods failed and Jill Bowman, attorney for the church contracted Sheriff Keith.

An investigation uncovered that Ms. Woods hadn’t been seen since she called in sick. All utility accounts had been cancelled and her bank accounts were emptied.  Ms. Woods drove to Columbia, sold her car and boarded a flight for Atlanta where she purchased another vehicle for cash and drove to Jacksonville, Florida. At the time of her arrest Ms. Woods was working as treasurer of Mount Sinai Temple. A temple member recognized her from a television news segment and mentioned her suspicions to Rabbi Davidson, who in turned contacted their local police authority.  Once confirmed, Ms. Woods arrest and return to New Grace was a done deal.

If found guilty Ms. Woods could face up to ten years imprisonment, a fine to be determined by the judge or both.

No money has been recovered thus far.