Grubbs' online romance leads to embezzlement

GOOCHLAND, VA (WWBT) - We're learning new details on just where all that money went after former Goochland County Treasurer Brenda Grubbs was caught embezzling hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars.

Grubbs pled guilty to twenty felony charges Tuesday afternoon stemming from her arrest.

Prosecutors described Grubbs' online romantic relationship with a man in Nigeria. The man going by the name "Bobby Johnson" convinced Grubbs to wire him nearly a quarter of a million dollars.

Special Prosecutor Jeff Haislip revealed Grubbs sent more than $100,000 of her own money to Nigeria before she ran out, and started sending taxpayer money.

"I can't find any sympathy for the way things went down," Haislip said. "For her personal funds, that's up to the individual to feel sorry or not for her, but for the funds she took from the citizens of Goochland County, I have no sympathy for that."

About $184,000 of taxpayer money was sent to this "Bobby Johnson" in Nigeria. The man claimed he had been shot and needed money for food and surgery.

"He just came up with different reasons for needing money," Haislip said. "It's as simple as that. There was always something"

The two exchanged photos and Grubbs wired him money more than forty times. Grubbs' attorney said in court that she was suffering from depression and this online predator took advantage of her.

There have been a number of concerned citizens that have come to each one of these court proceedings. They say it's time for Goochland County to move on, but they're disappointed they'll have to wait until December to find out what Grubbs' sentence will be.

"The wheels of justice are slow turning", said Ann James, who has attended each of Grubbs' court appearances.

Grubbs could spend a maximum of 410 years in prison. James says Grubbs' deserves a lengthy sentence.

"I don't have any sympathy for that," James said. "She was elected to serve as treasurer of Goochland County, the citizens of Goochland put their trust in her and she faltered."

Prosecutors say it's next to impossible to retrieve the money sent overseas.

Grubbs will be forced to pay roughly the same amount she took back in restitution. Her attorney says she's already gathered tens of thousands of dollars.

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