Petaluma woman jailed in theft of stepchildren's savings

A Petaluma woman accused of stealing from the college and savings funds of her stepchildren was sentenced Thursday to 90 days in jail and ordered to pay $39,824 in restitution, said District Attorney Jill Ravitch.

At the sentencing, the two children and their father told the court that they felt a "staggering" degree of betrayal, Ravitch said. The sentencing came after Kendall Yvonne Mathis, 44, formerly Kendall Yvonne Joaquim, pleaded no contest to one count of felony grand theft in December.

The charge stems from a period between June 2011 and August 2012 when Mathis stole from her stepchildren's savings accounts and from an annuity meant to pay for the older child's college expenses.

The annuity was created through a settlement over the medical misdiagnosis of the childrens' biological mother, who died from cancer when they were very young, said Deputy District Attorney Robin Hammond. Hammond prosecuted the case. The annuity was designed to provide four yearly payments to cover each child's educational expenses beginning on each child's 18th birthday.

The father related to the court that his dying wife had gained great comfort from the fact that the annuity would give her children the ability to go to college, causing her to smile even when she was in great pain, Hammond said. Mathis had known this, the father added. The crimes Mathis committed against him and his children were also crimes committed against the children's mother, he said.

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