A highly regarded school principal in Fairfax County and her former finance aide have been arrested and charged with embezzlement and money laundering, authorities said.

They were identified by county police as Sonya Swansbrough, 46, the principal at Poe Middle School, and Bethany Speed, 38, an administrative assistant at J.E.B. Stuart High School.

The arrests were linked to allegations that “involved falsifying timesheets for personal financial gain,” a police statement said.

Officials think more than $100,000 may have been embezzled through actions that began as early as May 2010, the police said.

An investigation started after the school system contacted police in late September, according to the statement. The arrests were made off-campus.

Sonya Swansbrough (Courtesy of Fairfax County Police Department)

Police said Brenton Rusnak, 20, of Radford, Va., Swansbrough’s son, was charged with receiving stolen property in connection with the case.

Calling the matter tragic, Sandy Evans, the School Board member for Poe’s area, said Swansbrough “has been terrific” and was a warm, well-liked principal who “cares deeply” about Poe’s students. Evans said she wanted to hear the principal’s side.