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Woman accused of stealing from foundation honoring late teen

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Rachel's Writers is a non-profit offering teens who love writing, just as Rachel did, scholarships and opportunity.

A woman accused of stealing money from a foundation established in honor of a deceased Wake County student faced a judge Tuesday.

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Joann Armstrong, 42, of Raleigh, is charged with felony forgery and obtaining property by false pretense as well as misdemeanor larceny.

Michelle Rosoff hired Armstrong to help her start the non-profit, Rachel's Writers, as a way to honor her daughter who died Labor Day weekend of 2016. The 17-year-old lifeguard was killed while on duty at a community swimming pool when she was electrocuted and drowned. The pool was found to have faulty ground wiring.

Rachel's Writers is a 501C-3 non-profit offering teenagers who love writing, just as Rachel did, scholarships and the opportunity to grow their creative communication skills.

Rosoff said she hired Armstrong knowing her history of arrests; Armstrong has several larceny and shoplifting charges dating to 2014.

Still, Rosoff said she was blindsided when she checked the foundation's bank account last week to find that during the last two months, eight checks had been written out to Armstrong, forged with Rosoff's signature. In total, Rosoff said $3,300 was stolen.

"I just never in a million years thought that she would - that anyone I actually socialized with would ever do something this sick," said Rosoff. "Because that's what it is - it's sick."

Rosoff also accuses Armstrong of taking money out of her deceased daughter's wallet.

"She stole money out of Rachel's wallet which was her last $30 that she touched," Rosoff said. "And that, to me, is more unforgivable than anything else."

Rosoff said even though only $500 remains in the foundation's fund, she's going to work to rebuild her daughter's legacy.

"She was just a great person and everything Joann did is just the opposite of the character of my daughter," she said.

Armstrong is in jail under a $20,000 bond. She's due in court on these charges Sept. 25. She already had another court date this week on an unrelated shoplifting charge.

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