Mom allegedly duped police to kidnap child

A Foster City mother previously convicted of child theft is now facing up to eight years in prison after prosecutors say she duped court clerks and tricked police into helping her kidnap her 10-year-old son.

Unemployed preschool teacher Cynthia May Wood, 49, was in court Wednesday to set a hearing date for March 26, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.

Wood’s arrest by Foster City police March 4 at the home she shares with her boyfriend was the result of a long investigation by the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office, Wagstaffe said.

The case began August of last year, when Wood allegedly visited the court clerk’s office and checked out the file containing a judge’s 2003 ruling to grant custody of her son to the boy’s paternal grandmother. Prosecutors say Wood altered the order to appear that she was granted custody.

Three months later, Wood allegedly returned to the clerk’s office and received certified copies of the forged order, Wagstaffe said. In December, Wood brought the copies to police in Roseville, where the grandmother was allowing the boy’s father to raise him. Roseville police examined the order and failed to determine it was a fraud. Officers pulled the boy out of school and allowed him to return to San Mateo County with his mother, according to prosecutors.

“The chutzpah to go to the police with a forged document to have a child pulled out of school is shocking,” Wagstaffe said.

After the boy’s father filed a complaint, a Foster City police detective and District Attorney’s Office investigator confronted Wood about the alleged child theft, Wagstaffe said. Wood allegedly confessed that she had altered the order but insisted the judge had authorized her to make the change.

“Caught in her lie, she just makes up a new lie,” Wagstaffe said. “She didn’t think it out that well.”

Wood faces 11 felony charges, including child stealing, violation of a court order, and multiple counts related to the alleged forgery. She pleaded not guilty the day after she was arrested.

It is not the first time she has been in trouble, Wagstaffe said. In 2000, a judge sentenced Wood to 30 days in jail for misdemeanor child theft. Wood pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor in a plea deal that reduced the original charge from a felony.

Wood’s court-appointed attorney Scott Newbould said he is still becoming familiar with the case, but that Wood has maintained her innocence.

“She’s denied any wrongdoing and that’s supported by statements from different family members,” Newbould said.

Woods remains in jail on $250,000 bail.

tbarak@examiner.com

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