Woman on trial for arson, fraud PDF Print E-mail
Written by BILL RYAN Sentinel Staff Writer   
Tuesday, 04 June 2013 09:57
Rossford_Biz_Arson.4464_story
Assistant Wood County Prosecutor Aram Ohanian, far left, gives opening remarks as defendant Patricia Groves, far right, and her attorney, Ann Baronas look on. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
A Perrysburg woman went on trial Monday in Wood County Common Pleas Court on charges of aggravated arson and insurance fraud.
Patricia L. Groves, 58, is accused of setting fire to her Rossford business and filing a false insurance claim after the fire. The trial before Judge Alan Mayberry is scheduled to last all week.
According to Groves' attorney, Ann Baronas, the prosecution and the defense agree to many facts in the case. She told the jury of eight women and six men, including alternates, her client did have some problems as they heard from the prosecution. Groves had health issues, was having financial struggles, and there was a fire intentionally set in the building. Baronas said the one key question on which they disagree is "Who set the fire?"
Groves owned the Downey Daisy Home Services business which conducted business out of a downtown Rossford office. The fire was reported the morning of Dec. 20, 2011.
In his opening remarks, Aram Ohanian, an assistant Wood County prosecuting attorney, outlined the case.
He noted problems making payroll, the limited access to the building and Groves' insistence not to call the police or fire department when signs of arson were present the day prior to the fire.
The prosecution noted how the defendant's stories were "changing each time" with different people citing different versions.
He told the jury she had previously collected insurance settlements from two prior fires on property she owned in 2005 and 2007.
The defense attorney said her client had been victimized by people and that Groves was "doing what she needed to do to solve her problems."
Baronas added, "There were many people who wanted to take advantage of her."
The first witness was Sheri Warren, the firm's office manager, who testified how Groves was mostly absent from the day-to-day operation of the business physically, though they stayed in communication on a daily basis.
Warren noted how she found the signs of the first arson attempt on Dec. 19 and how the building's alarm had been disabled.
She also spoke of the unusual calls she received that morning when she found cardboard burned and a large cardboard box soaked in some substance emitting a "kerosene smell" in the office.
She also noted how things had changed recently and how "I had a lot of concerns about her," referring to the defendant.
The aggravated arson charge is a first-degree felony, punishable with up to 10 years in prison; while the insurance fraud is a fourth-degree offense.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 June 2013 17:46
 

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