Petaluma Stepmother Convicted of Felony Grand Theft for Stealing Childrens’ College Funds (CA Penal Code 487)

One husband’s children lost their mother about 5 years ago to cancer.  Due to a malpractice suit against her original diagnosing physician, the children were left with quite a tidy sum in the form of an annuity that was set up in order for them to pay for college, beginning when they reached age 18.  Their deceased mother was quite firm on this point, she was reassured at the time of her death that her children would receive the educational opportunities they deserved.

Years later, when the first child reached the age of receipt of their annuity and had been accepted into college, this eldest daughter discovered that the money simply wasn’t there.  After a brief investigation, it was found that the stepmother (name withheld in order to protect the privacy of the accused) had not only taken the annuity as cash, but had also wiped out the children’s savings accounts and other funds.  She has been sentenced to 90 days in county jail, 3 years probation, and restitution in the amount of nearly $40,000.

In the state of California, her actions are considered grand theft,  which is a theft of an amount of property or money worth more than $950 (CA Penal Code 487). A conviction on the charge of felony grand theft may result in up to 3 years in prison plus fines and/or restitution to victims.