Woman charged in Sonoma County forgery ring accused of leaving child in car

Jhona Mathews, one of five people arrested Friday on suspicion of participating in an elaborate credit card forgery ring, now faces additional charges after deputies found Thursday that she had left her 3-year-old child alone in a car with syringes loaded with what deputies suspect is methamphetamine, sheriff's officials said.

Mathews, 33, of Walnut Creek was originally arrested Friday by Sonoma County Sheriff's detectives at a Rohnert Park motel. The group is suspected of creating bogus credit cards with stolen information and using them at the nearby Graton Resort & Casino and to rent a hotel room and luxury cars they never returned.

Detectives learned about the credit card ring after arresting Mathews at the casino, where she was trying to withdraw money from an ATM using a fake credit card, sheriff's Sgt. Mike Raasch said.

Mathews was arrested on charges including forgery, theft of credit card information, manufacturing false identification documents, burglary, possession of a stolen vehicle, possession of methamphetamine, conspiracy and vehicle theft.

She posted bail, set at $10,000, the same day.

But when she appeared at Sonoma County court Thursday for her arraignment, a judge said her bail was too low and remanded her back to jail with $50,000 bail, said Raasch.

At that point, Mathews "threw a hissy fit," Raasch said. She told the judge she had left her 3-year-old daughter outside in a car.

The girl had been left alone in the car for 45 minutes to an hour, Raasch said. Deputies found the girl sleeping in the back seat, knocked on the car to wake her, and had her unlock the car, Raasch said. They found syringes loaded with what deputies suspect is methamphetamine, other drug paraphernalia, and a notebook with many credit card numbers written in it, he said.

This is not Mathews' first time in court for credit card fraud. She is on misdemeanor probation in Marin County for an earlier offense related to using a bogus credit card, Raasch said.

Mathews was arrested on suspicion of felony child endangerment and possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia, as well as violating her probation. She was booked back into jail with no possibility of bail.

(You can reach Staff Writer Jamie Hansen at 521-5205 or jamie.hansen@pressdemocrat.com.)

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