Indictment helps shed light on darkened case
Wednesday, May 14, 2014 12:00 AM
It has been a long time coming, but sometimes criminal investigations seem to crawl at a pace that is counter to what the everyday person thinks is reasonable. But after much speculation and chatter in the community for well more than a year, a Greenwood County grand jury handed down an indictment in a case involving the disappearance of thousands of public dollars that had been in funds managed by the Greenwood County Sheriff’s Office.
The indictment against former sheriff’s office administrative assistant Sandi Owens is only that, an indictment on a felony charge of embezzlement of more than $10,000 in funds. Owens is entitled to and will receive her due process through the criminal justice system. At issue is the disappearance of thousands of dollars in funds that, the true bill of indictment reflects, was under Owens’ management. More specifically, the indictment alleges some of the funds were transferred and used by Owens to pay for personal expenses, including out-of-town trips, clothing, meals and other unusual purchases not deemed relative to the business conducted by the county sheriff’s office.
The charges are serious. If found guilty, she faces 10 years in prison on the felony charge. And the charges are serious in that they involve the mysterious disappearance of many more thousands of dollars than the $10,000 level it takes to result in a felony charge. For too long, answers regarding the funds’ disappearance have gone unanswered. There was speculation that because the case involved the sheriff’s office, law enforcement charged with investigating the case was turning a somewhat blind eye. But again, investigations take time. Building a case takes time and must be done methodically.
Finally, it seems, answers will begin to come forward. An arraignment will take place and a trial appears likely as Owens’ attorney, Billy Garrett, said his client fully intends to fight the allegations and will enter a plea of not guilty. It is good that the case has moved to this next level. One way or the other, something had to occur that would reopen the mystery and, we hope, result in answers being learned. There is no doubt taxpayers have yet to receive a true accounting of thousands of dollars that were in a public office’s purview. Who is responsible for the disappearance and whether any of the funds were truly misappropriated remains to be seen. And really, all any of us wants is for answers -- honest answers -- to be given and if any criminal wrongdoing was committed by anyone, that justice be served.