Spanaway woman charged with forging divorce pleads not guilty

Staff writerApril 7, 2014 

A Spanaway woman accused of forging a divorce and collecting child support pleaded not guilty Monday to first-degree theft and forgery. Pierce County prosecutors said Jenelle Burke, 34, forged signatures on paperwork she presented to her husband, who then paid her about $9,000 in child support over a six-month period last year.

Burke is also suspected of charging other items to her husband without his knowledge after the faked divorce, including daycare for their three children and cable bills.

Burke’s husband, an Army ranger at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, was deployed at the time and under the impression that his wife was finalizing the divorce. The forgery came to light after the husband’s attorney requested divorce papers from the courthouse and discovered they had never been filed.

The husband had to postpone a wedding he was planning with his fiancé after discovering that he was still married to Burke. The divorce was finally granted in November.

Burke said she forged the divorce paperwork because she was afraid her husband would be angry she had not already completed it and would possibly keep her from their children, according to court documents.

Defense attorney Timothy Healy said he believes Burke will be vindicated of the theft charges because Burke’s husband was paying child support he’d agreed to in the couple’s divorce agreement.

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