The Story of Jhona Mathews may make a good book, once it is all told. She has been in the news a lot lately, since September, and as recently as last week. She made another splash Thursday during her arraignment that got her locked up without bail and her 3-year-old daughter placed in Child Protective Services custody.
The San Francisco Examiner has published a lengthy history of Jhona Mathews in a story written by Chris Roberts. He related the tale of this woman born to a teenage single mother with addiction problems. Young Jhona was molested or raped by relatives, even testifying at a trial convicting her step-grandfather. However, while raised by her grandmother, she was successful in school. But when she was 20, her grandmother died, and she was the one who found and tried to resuscitate her. The final tipping point in her future may have been when family members blamed her for the death.
Roberts relates in his story of her beginning the use of methamphetamines, and a series of arrests and new chances for rehab from 2001 to 2010. During this time she had a felony conviction for using a stolen credit card to gain money for her drug habit, and she was soon arrested with a boyfriend for marijuana trafficking, followed by driving a stolen car, and being involved with a counterfeiter, her longtime friend Nicole Dunlap, who bailed her out at the time. Her final try at rehab began in February 2010, at which time she also became pregnant with her daughter.
Perhaps in an effort to clean up her life once again, and raise her baby daughter, she began working for San Rafael’s City Carpets in January 2011. In fact, her LinkedIn account still lists her as an Office Administrator for them, as well as attending the College of Marin in 2012. While she worked at the company, she met Bill McLaughlin, who was on the Board of Directors for the National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in San Francisco.
McLaughlin was apparently taken with the sometimes glamorous 5-foot-8-inch tall woman, and used his influence to get her a well-paying secretarial job at the church early in 2013, and his interest appears to have been more than just charitable. In a lawsuit she later filed against the church, she claimed that her job reporting to McLaughlin also including a sexual relationship with him. Stories of sex on the church grounds, and spankings with a wooden paddle when she was “naughty” were included in her allegations.
Also during the time of her employment, it was also discovered that $100,000 had been embezzled from the church. Mathews’ attorney in the lawsuit, Sandra Ribera, claimed that McLaughlin also used her to help him embezzle the funds from the church, in addition to demanding sexual favors. Sources involved with the small, older facility deny that it would be possible to have any untoward relations on church grounds without being discovered. They also claim that the embezzlement of such a large sum could not have come from the small church, but from the San Francisco Archdiocese, and that Jhona used her position to access and write checks from that account.
While working at the church, Mathews is also said to have diverted mail from her former employer at the carpet company, and used that access to use one of their credit cards at an Office Depot store in Marin County. She was arrested in September of 2013 and served 10 days in Marin County jail for that offense. During this time, she called in sick, claiming pneumonia to explain her absence for her job at the church. Meanwhile, church sources claim that her friend and sometime roommate Nicole Dunlap used Mathews’ keys to get in her office and steal a laptop computer.
It was also during this time period that she and the 30-year-old Dunlap were suspects in a case of stolen credit cards and identity theft against a 79-year-old woman undergoing cancer treatments. The victim was the woman Jhona had replaced at the church, and she found the elderly woman’s checkbook and other personal identification, and used them to purchase items at the Richmond Sears in Contra Costa County. No record of this incident has been released, but it was related by the same source inside the church who was involved in tracking the incidents with Mathews.
When the church leadership in October finally learned of Mathews September conviction for defrauding the carpet company, they fired her from the position. She claimed, however, the firing was in response to her cutting off the sexual relationship with McLaughlin. Her lawsuit was filed on January 29. McLaughlin, who has been accused of several other past financial misdeeds, was also separated from the church, and the leadership has been dealing with the convoluted aspects of this whole matter since.
And while all the dust was settling for this series of incidents, Jhona Mathews was not sitting quietly in the sidelines. She and Dunlap joined up with three men to work a stolen credit card and identity theft operation in Rohnert Park in Sonoma County.
One of the men, Zephyr Carter, had a previous arrest for similar offenses, so the team had some experience with the process. They had set up shop in a Rohnert Park hotel room. They had both stolen and blank cards, a card reader and laptop computers, along with some cash and some methamphetamine and smoking paraphernalia. On Friday night, April 4, Jhona took one of the fraudulent cards to the Graton Casino nearby. Graton is a new resort that opened in November of last year owned by the Federated Indians of Graton in Sonoma County. The facility has no hotel of its own, but features gaming tables, slot machines and poker.
Jhona was sent by the team to the casino to use the ATM machine to get some cash. The fraudulent card was detected, and she was detained by in-house security, who alerted the Sheriff’s office, and a deputy arrested her for the stolen card. A while later another of the team, perhaps Nicole Dunlap, tried the same thing and ended up with the same result. The arrest of the two led to a raid on the room, and the other three taken in custody as well. She and the others were charged with a laundry list of offenses, including forgery, theft of credit card info, altering credit cards, manufacturing false ID documents, burglary, giving false identity to a peace officer, vehicle theft, possession of methamphetamine and paraphernalia, and conspiracy.
Jhona Mathews made her $10,000 bail the same day, Saturday April 5th, and was scheduled for arraignment yesterday at 8:30 am. She showed up for court and faced the judge, who upon reviewing her case and history, increased the bail amount to $50,000, and had her placed into custody. She then told the deputies that her 3-year-old daughter Brooklyn was waiting for her in the car by herself, parked at the courthouse in the south side parking lot as the morning turned to day, and the heat was increasing.
Deputies rushed to the lot and found her car. Mathews’ daughter was asleep in the back seat, and the deputies managed to wake her up and have her unlock the car door so they could bring her out. A search of the car found 3 capped hypodermic syringes filled with what they suspected was liquid meth, additional drug parahernalia, and a notebook with a series of credit card numbers.
Jhona Mathews was booked back into jail with the additional charges of felony child endangerment, possession of meth and drug paraphernalia, and probation violations. An bail enhancement was requested and granted, and she is being held with a no bail hold. Her daughter was turned over to Child Protective Services. The property crime detectives were given the additional evidence of the notebook, and will add that to the evidence already collected from the casino investigation.
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