Man charged with stealing donations for kids with cancer from New Jersey diner

Jim Dolan reporting
April 4, 2014 6:36:38 AM PDT
Police in New Jersey have arrested a man who allegedly stole a donation jar meant to help children with cancer from a local restaurant.

Investigators say 55-year old Michael Groze went to the Jersey Diner on Route 130 in South Brunswick Sunday afternoon and ordered fries and a drink, saying he had a long drive ahead of him.

As he waited by the register, he picked up a donation jar belonging to the Hugs for Brady Foundation and emptied the money into his jacket pockets, according to police.

The donation jar contained approximately $150. The suspect left before the theft was detected.

Groze was charged with theft and released.

The Hugs for Brady Foundation was established to help children battling cancer and assist in research to ultimately find a cure for pediatric cancer.

"I was outraged, I couldn't believe that somebody would stoop to this level and steal from a child that was battling cancer, it's horrible," said Sherrie Wells, who founded Hugs for Brady when her 23-month old son died of leukemia three years ago.

Virtually all of the money raised from the donation contaners goes to research aimed at curing cancer in children. Some is used for buggies. It adds up, $700,000 in the three years since Brady died.

"The donation containers are a huge part of that, we're a blue-collar foundation so literally no donation is too small. The donation containers are a huge part of what we do," said Wells.

But the suspect had other ideas for the money. Keep in mind, he's not broke or hungry. He is seen flipping through a roll of bills as he's plotting his pathetic heist.

Then he pays his own tab, leaving the money on the counter, and then grabs the donation box and walks out the door.

The box may have had enough to pay for a 'Brady Buggy Wagon', that are used to transport hospitalized children who can't walk to their medical appointments.

"When a child is going for a wagon ride, the cancer is behind them and they're just simply being a kid again, even if it's just for ten minutes," Wells said.