The woman at the center of a sex and theft scandal at a prominent North Beach church was one of the five Bay Area residents arrested in Sonoma County over the weekend for using fraudulent credit cards at a casino, according to authorities.
Jhona Mathews, 33, was arrested at a Rohnert Park motel room on Saturday, according to the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department.
She and four others ran an "elaborate" fake credit card scam, renting a hotel room and three Mercedes Benz automobiles, and withdrawing "thousands of dollars" from Graton Resort and Casino ATMs using the fake cards, sheriff's deputies said.
Also arrested were San Francisco residents Michael Anger, 32, Robert Serrato, 37, and Nicole Dunlap, 30, and Hayward resident Zephyr Carter, 41, deputies said.
At a Rohnert Park motel room rented by the suspects with a fake credit card on Friday, deputies found several stolen credit cards in different names, cash, a credit card reader, laptop computers and several blank credit cards, Lt. Steve Brown said.
Authorities also found methamphetamine and smoking paraphernalia in the hotel room.
The suspects were arrested on charges including forgery, theft of credit card information, altering credit card information, manufacturing false identification documents, burglary, conspiracy, vehicle theft and possession of drugs and stolen vehicles, deputies said.
Mathews was a secretary at the National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi on Vallejo Street in North Beach for about a year before she was fired last fall.
In January, she filed a lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court alleging, in part, that her former superior at the shrine, 67-year old Bill McLaughlin, hired her for sex and fired her when she rejected his advances.
McLaughlin, a volunteer at the shrine, was relieved of his duties in November.
Shortly after Mathews' termination, the shrine's rector, Fr. Harold Snider, filed a police report alleging that a large amount of money had gone missing from the shrine's bank account. No arrests have been made in that case.
Mathews, a single mother of a young girl, has a history of drug addiction and run-ins with the law.
She served jail time for methamphetamine possession in Alameda County and in San Francisco. In Marin County, she served jail time for buying high-end merchandise from a Nordstrom's with a fake credit card and then returning the items for cash, according to records.
An attorney for Mathews did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the San Francisco Examiner.
Bay City News contributed to this report.