KENNEWICK — A Richland business owner is accused of forging a judge's signature on a court document in an attempt to force a tenant to pay money she owed her.
Cynthia Diane Goldberg, 39, appeared Thursday in Benton County Superior Court on suspicion of forgery and second-degree extortion just hours after her arrest.
Judge Cameron Mitchell found probable cause to hold the tearful Goldberg on the allegations. He set her bail at $10,000 and told her that if she gets out of jail and prosecutors file formal charges within 72 hours she must return to court Wednesday.
Goldberg is the sole owner of Blue Ribbon Professional Office Services, according to Washington Department of Revenue business records. She lives in Richland.
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Court documents state that at noon May 12, Goldberg and her maintenance man went to a West Margaret Street home in Pasco to speak with one of Goldberg's tenants who owed her money. Goldberg met the 52-year-old resident at her front door and handed the woman a small-claims court document.
"Goldberg advised (the woman) if she made the payment of the owed money, she would drop the court case," Benton County sheriff's Detective Scott Runge wrote, explaining the reason for arresting Goldberg.
He says Goldberg then made numerous calls to the tenant demanding payment so she could drop the lawsuit.
While investigating the alleged threats, Runge discovered Goldberg had forgedthe signature of District Court Judge Joe Burrowes and of a "nonexistent clerk" on the small-claims form, according to court documents. Goldberg also allegedly filled in a June 4 trial date on the form.
District Court typically stamps a judge's name on small-claims actions in-stead of using the actual signature.
This form had a signature for Burrowes, and misspelled his last name as "Burrows," court documents state.
As of Thursday evening, Goldberg no longer was in custody at the Benton County jail.
-- Kristin M. Kraemer: 509-582-1531; firstname.lastname@example.org