A Petaluma woman was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of stealing inheritance money from her stepdaughter.
Kendall Joaquim, 43, faces three counts of grand theft, identity theft, forgery and using a computer to commit a theft, according to Sonoma County Sheriff's investigators.
Joaquim is suspected of taking a check for $30,000 meant for her stepdaughter's education, cashing it and spending it on personal expenses. The check was part of an inheritance meant for the girl after her mother died of cancer in 2003, according to Sgt. Mike Raasch.
"There was a disbursement from an inheritance and that money was specifically earmarked for the girl's college education and she's in college," Raasch said. "(Joaquim) intercepted the check."
The estranged husband of Joaquim, who was not identified Wednesday, noticed in October that his finances were not adding up. After examining his accounts, he determined that Joaquim had withdrawn money from the accounts of both of his children as well as from his retirement account.
"Once he started figuring out something was going on, he started scrutinizing all of his accounts," Raasch said.
Joaquim is also believed to have taken out a $30,000 loan in her estranged husband's name before using it for her own daughter's college expenses.
The case is still under investigation and officials believe additional charges will be sought against Joaquim.
Joaquim was arrested at her home and booked into Sonoma County Jail. Bail was set at $20,000 and Joaquim later posted the amount and was released.
Staff Writer Kerry Benefield writes an education blog at extracredit.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. She can be reached at 526-8671, kerry.benefield@press democrat.com or on Twitter @benefield.